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Tim Ehrhardt

Stories by Tim

The Houstons

Houston Mesa Road. Houston Loop Trail. Houston Pocket. Houston Brothers Trail.

Early Payson Mining History

In the 1870s folks were starting to come into Tonto Basin and what we now call Rim Country.

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Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad

A tunnel under the Rim is all that is left in the Payson area of the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad.

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Old-Time Soakings

Every winter it seems like there’s at least one set of good rains that soaks the region while also causing rivers to rise and road crossings to be treacherous.

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Moonshiners in Rim Country

The Payson area was known for its moonshine back in the day. The moonshine was called “Payson Dew” and it had a good reputation that went far beyond the region. Here’s a look at this moonshine and the people behind it.

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Harvey Granville Bush and The Bush Highway

The 1920s were a roaring time in America. Times were good and the automobile was growing in popularity.

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Payson in the 1950s

The 1950s were a period of growth and change in the Payson region that would lay the groundwork for much more future growth.

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The Andrew T. Hammons patent and Payson Ranchos

In the northern part of Payson is 142.85 acres that were patented in 1920 by Andrew T. Hammons.

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What is Zane Grey Country?

If you have been around the Payson area much, you’ve probably seen the term Zane Grey Country.

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What Tonto Natural Bridge was likeBack in the Day

Tonto Natural Bridge was settled by David Gowan in the 1870s and later patented by a nephew of his, David Gowan Goodfellow.

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Remembering zane grey’s last trip to rim country

In 1929 Zane Grey made what would be his final trip to Rim Country.

Celebrating the Homestead Act and homesteads of Rim Country

The Civil War was raging 150 years ago, yet in the midst of it, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law something that would forever change America.

Fall hikes and history

The weather of the past week has made it clear: fall is nearly upon us. For those who love to hike, it’s time to think about where we want to go to enjoy the wonderful fall colors.

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Rim Country Chamber of Commerce history

Let’s take a look back at when a chamber of commerce was formed in Rim Country, as well as the circumstances that led to its need.

Zane Grey movie shot in Payson area

In 1918, western author Zane Grey visited the Payson area for the first time. Soon he wrote a number of books about the area. Meanwhile, silent movies were going strong in Hollywood and it was only natural that some of Grey’s books would be turned into movies.

How the Payson area has been viewed over time

I love old newspaper clips. One of my favorite things to look at it is how people have viewed the Payson area historically. So let’s take a look at some old clips. The 1870s were the beginning of non-native settlement in this region. At the time Prescott to the west was a particularly major player in the state — it had been the territorial capital from 1864 to 1867 and would be again from 1877 to 1889.

The 1961 Roberts Fire

In 1961 this region was hit by two significant wildfires, both of which had fatalities, and both of which were located in the heart of the area Zane Grey frequented. The Roberts Fire was human caused and started June 15, 1961. Just after it was brought under control, lightning started the Hatchery Fire.

The 1961 Roberts Fire

In 1961 this region was hit by two significant wildfires, both of which had fatalities, and both of which were located in the heart of the area Zane Grey frequented. The Roberts Fire was human caused and started June 15, 1961. Just after it was brought under control, lightning started the Hatchery Fire.

Another look at some Sunflower mining history

The recent Sunflower Fire is in an area with a rich mining history, some of which probably burned during the course of the fire. Let’s take a look back. The mines in the Sunflower area are probably best known for their production of mercury. But there were other minerals mined, as this clip from the July 26, 1908 Bisbee Daily Review shows.

Flowing Springs History

A little bit outside of Payson via Highway 87 and a Forest Service road is the Flowing Springs subdivision. It sits around the East Verde River and is a beautiful spot with a lot of history. Let’s take a closer look at it, including how Arthur Neal patented it in the 1910s. In the 1880s it was known as the Sidella Place, named for Henry Sidles. He settled there in the late 1870s and the 1881 Yavapai Assessor’s rolls have the following entry for Sidles: “Possessory right to 160 acres of land and improvements on East fork of Verde Known as H. Sidles ranch; 2 Horses $60.00; 20 Cows $300.00; 20 Calves $80.00.”

Camp Tontozona

A campaign to raise funds for a return to Camp Tontozona was announced by Arizona State University officials last week. If $150,000 can be raised by June 1, the football team will be at Camp Tontozona from Aug. 14 to Aug. 18 of this year. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind this place that is so special to many Sun Devils. Camp Tontozona existed before football came.

1940 Census

On April 2 the 1940 census was released to the public after a mandatory 72-year waiting period. Censuses are a treasure trove of information for historians and genealogists. Not only are people’s names recorded, but a number of other questions are asked and answered, including place of birth and occupation. The 1940 census also asked people where they were five years before; a timely question given the migration that occurred during the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Plenty of other information was collected which sheds further light on the lives of Americans in 1940.

The growth of Payson

From a population of approximately 125 when Arizona became a state in 1912, to over 16,000 today, Payson has grown a lot over the past 100 years. Particularly is the growth in the past 50 years when Payson went from a population of less than a 1,000 to what it is today. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

Key figures of early Payson

Folks like to talk about our country’s Founding Fathers from time to time, yet I rarely hear it discussed on a local level. Here’s my take on Payson’s “founding fathers.”

Historic Rim names not commonly remembered

I was going through some old Payson Roundups out of the 1960s recently when I came across the mention of a few locals in a biographical encyclopedia that came out in 1967. It’s an interesting mix of people, some of whom are so comparatively modern that they got forgotten about. Let’s take a look and learn a little bit more.

Making sense of Arizona’s Centennial

Arizona is now 100 years old, having celebrated its centennial of becoming a state on Feb. 14, 2012. I’ve been asking myself: What does it all really mean? Is this just a historian’s Hallmark moment? Perhaps a way for those of us who care about history to get noticed a little bit more by the general public? Let’s take another look at Arizona’s history. Arizona was established as a territory on Feb. 24, 1863. It became a state on Feb. 14, 1912, a little over a month after New Mexico became a state. We were the 48th state admitted to the union – just Alaska and Hawaii are younger.

Ten occurrences that had an impact

With the Arizona Centennial less than a month away, there seem to be a lot of lists out there, some of which are extremely interesting. So, I thought I’d give it a shot, with 10 occurrences in the past 100 years that have had a major impact of this area.

Early Hunter Creek history

Near Christopher Creek sits the Hunter Creek Ranch subdivision. This gated community has its own water and sewer system, and a certified 100-year water supply. But how did it get its name? Here’s a look at it, including a look at one of the forgotten early settlers of this region. A survey was done in 1905 of some of the Christopher Creek area. Isadore Christopher can be found where the heart of the Christopher Creek area is today, but when looking at where Hunter Creek Ranch is located one finds the Williamson name.

The big snow of 1967

“White Yule Dream Nightmare” was one of the headlines that the Dec. 19, 1967 Arizona Republic carried. The state had been hit by multiple winter storms at that point, starting with one on Dec. 13. By Dec. 19 isolated areas were really struggling. The Arizona Republic had this to say about the Payson area that day. “PAYSON: Gila County sheriff’s officers fear for residents in resort area 20 miles north. May take weeks to open back roads where many elderly retirees are stranded. Groceries are being hauled into isolated sections. The area is low on butane fuel, but electricity, out in spots for up to three days, restored. Two of Payson’s three fire engines are pinned under a collapsed fire station roof and officials are concerned over the new high school gymnasium, where the ceiling has cracked under 3 feet of snow.”

On my bookshelf

With Christmas coming, I thought it might be a nice time to go through some of the books that I keep readily at hand. Perhaps you have someone in the family who loves history and are looking for some ideas. Here’s a sampling of what’s on my shelf. The basic books There are some basic history books on this area that I think everyone should have on their shelf and that I certainly have on mine. They are: “Rim Country History,” published in 1984 by the Northern Gila County Historical Society — A great overview of the area with a lot of individual family histories. The committee of historians behind this book did a great job utilizing what they had and there is a lot of great information in here. A must-have if you love area history.

Thanksgiving stories and more

Yet another Thanksgiving is upon us and I thought it might be a nice time for some Thanksgiving stories from the past, as well as a look at a few resources that I am thankful for as a historian, and which you might find useful. Let’s start by taking a look at a story from Pleasant Valley. Thanksgiving at Ellison Ellison, Ariz., Dec 2, 1899.

Respecting Don Dedera

When researching history you tend to come across a lot of previous writings. There is a wide variety of quality in these writings. Along the way, certain writers stand out. One of the ones that I’ve really come to respect is Don Dedera. Let’s take a look at Don’s terrific career. “Payson: mountain town, supply base for half a county, a mixture of pioneers and dudes — a town with a gas station on one corner, a ranger station on another, a motel on another, and a sawmill in its middle. Payson never was very pretty, and may progress never move the horse pastures off Main Street.”

Bear stories

Fall has arrived in Rim Country and the hunters are out in force. Exotic animals have been on the loose recently in Zane Grey’s hometown of Zanesville, which makes it seem like a fitting time to look back upon some stories of one of the bigger animals around — the bear.

Center of town has moved east

History has taught us that town centers have a tendency to change, both from a geographical standpoint and from a political power point of view. Here’s a look at how the center of Payson and the surrounding area have evolved since early times. When the region was first being settled by white settlers, west of today’s Payson was the hub of activity. If you take Main Street west, past the sewage plant, you’ll ultimately top out on a hill. It feels like a different world, and indeed it was. Welcome to the first origins of the area.

Zane Grey’s lasting impact

Zane Grey was an American author who wrote an extensive amount of fiction centered in the west, and who also traveled the world, telling stories of the exotic places that he visited. Amongst the places he spent a great deal of time in was the area around Payson, an area that did not have main line roadways during the time he spent here. Traditionally, fall was a time for Grey to come and hunt in this area, while also gathering material for his novels. Thus, it’s a good time of year to look at his lasting impact on the region.

Why are we here?

When I was in college at Arizona State University, a professor that I had put it best: Why are you here? The thought worked then and it works now. Why are you here? What brought you to Payson and the surrounding area? Moreover, what in Payson’s past laid the groundwork for you to be here right now?

Charles Collins - crafting history

In my book “Zane Grey’s Forgotten Ranch: Tales from the Boles Homestead,” I talk about Charles Collins, the Globe saddle maker who bought much of the Boles Homestead from Zane Grey around 1930.

A brief look at old rodeos

Soon it will be rodeo time in Payson as the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo has its 127th edition Aug. 18, 19, 20 and 21. Here’s a quick look at how its reputation grew.

The Zane Grey Highway

Type in Zane Grey Highway on Google Maps and you’ll be taken to a section of Highway 260 running from Camp Verde to Highway 87 up on top of the Rim. But that’s not the only part of Highway 260 that’s been referenced as the Zane Grey Highway and there were once bigger plans for the term. Here’s a closer look.

A historical look at the Arizona ‘monsoon’

Forest fires are burning, parts of the forest have been closed to the public and everyone is wondering the same thing: when will we get rain again? Let’s take a look at Arizona’s “monsoon” and some recent area historical weather data. The term monsoon is probably a touch misused when describing Arizona’s late summer weather patterns. Dictionary .com’s first definition of monsoon is: “the seasonal wind of the Indian ocean and southern Asia, blowing from the southwest in summer and from the northeast in winter.”

Fires in Rim Country

June has now arrived, which means a couple of things: one — our summer rains or “monsoons” are just around the corner and two — fire season has arrived in Rim Country. Here’s a look at some of the more notorious fires in Rim Country. If one had to come up with a “big three” of fires in the region it’d be pretty easy: Dude Fire, Rodeo-Chediski and Willow, all three of which consumed a lot of forest land near Payson. Yet there were also plenty of fires before those just as there will be plenty more in the future. “Big” is a matter relevance in many cases, as this clip from the July 6, 1948 Arizona Daily Sun shows.

Getting to know Barry Goldwater

As Arizona approaches its centennial, it’s a good time to look back on one of its most noteworthy native sons.

Sunflower Mine

South of Payson near the road to Phoenix lays an old mining area with many remnants of the past still around. It is the Sunflower area, which was once home to active mercury mines. The mine with the most impressive remnants remaining is the National/Sunflower Mine. Here’s a look at this mine.

Charles Bouquet and his incredible Tonto Basin gardens

Spring has sprung and it’s a good time to look back at one of the most notable early growers in the Tonto Basin: Charles Bouquet, who was noted for his fruit and yet met an early demise.

Weddings in Rim Country

Weddings are often a time for people to gather and renew old-time relationships.

Roosevelt Dam’s Centennial

On March 18, 1911 Roosevelt Dam was dedicated and opened by former President Theodore Roosevelt.

The ‘story’ of Preacher Canyon

Just east of Star Valley sits Preacher Canyon, a wild canyon with a little bit of water in it. Nearby is Little Green Valley, a place with a great history to it. Here’s a look at Preacher Canyon and surrounding area.

Arizona Statehood

Monday, Feb. 14 will mark 99 years of Arizona statehood. As the state nears its centennial, it is a good time to look at Gila County’s early contribution to the state in the form of Arizona’s first Governor and first First Lady, George W.P. Hunt and Duett Ellison.

A mixture of mining

To many they are pretty rocks, the names of which and indicators of, are not understood. But for someone with a skilled hand, dreaming of riches, they can be something far more; the opening to a better life.

Remembering Nan Pyle

How fast we can forget those who have made a significant impact on the community. Nan Pyle is exactly an example of that. While she has been dead for more than 20 years, her impact, while often controversial, still lives on in Payson.

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