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Tim Ehrhardt

Stories by Tim

A little highway history

The highways in Rim Country have gone through constant realignment; realignment that continues as Highway 260 is expanded just outside of Little Green Valley.

The Tonto Creek trifecta

One of the things that I’ve been researching lately is the old Boy Scout camps in the area. In the process I came to a special appreciation of an area that I pass by every day: the area near Kohl’s Ranch.

Archaeology in Rim Country

One thing people ask me about occasionally is area archaeology.

A visit to the Golden Waif/House Mine

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hike to the old Golden Waif Mine, referenced on topographical maps as the “House Mine.” This mine had a major impact on early Payson.

Rim Country mispronunciations

At a recent visit to Diamond Point Shadows I heard folks talking about how Prescott should be pronounced. They pronounced it as many Arizonans do: “press-kit,” instead of how many out-of-staters do, “press-scott.”

Schools, teachers in Rim Country

were the norm. Teachers who traveled long distances and sometimes endured less than stellar conditions were typical. Here’s a look back at teaching in Rim Country.

Remembering Everett Jackson

The Rim Country area lost another great old-timer recently when Everett Jackson passed away.

Missing... and remembering ASU football at Tontozona

A new football season is nearly upon us. Across the country NFL training camps are underway and players at the collegiate level are preparing for a new season.

A railroad on the East Verde?

Today it is the home to a pipeline that has the potential to help supply Payson and the surrounding communities with the water they need from Blue Ridge Reservoir.

‘Payson’ book an insightful picture history

Jinx Pyle and Jayne Peace Pyle’s latest book, “Payson,” provides a wonderful pictorial look at the area. This is published by Arcadia Publishing and is one of many in their Images of America series that is widely distributed around Arizona and the rest of the country.

Remembering the Dude Fire


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Dude Fire, a fire that burned numerous homes and killed six firefighters north of Payson under the Rim.

gardens in rim country

It’s June, which means gardening in Rim Country is in full swing. While nowadays it’s generally performed as a relaxing hobby, it was a far more serious thing long ago.

The capture of an outlaw in Tonto Basin

Back in the day, the Tonto Basin was a pretty wild place, with the area around Mount Reno (now known as Mount Ord) as wild as any.

What’s in a signature?

When I was a kid I loved to go out to spring training games, always with one thing in mind: getting an autograph from someone wearing my favorite team’s uniform.

The Reno Road

The wet winter has led to a flowery spring, particularly between Payson and its bigger neighbor to the south, Phoenix. Many a city dweller will explore the terrain, often going on day trips to enjoy nature’s beauty. But it is easy to forget that such a day trip wasn’t so easy long ago. It’s time for a look at the Reno Road.

Norman Mead and Tonto Trails Magazine

The fairly new Arizona Highlands publication by the Payson Roundup might remind longtime residents of a couple different publications.

Closing the book on ILX Resorts

Sometime in April, Diamond Resorts will likely take over ILX Resorts, including their Kohl’s Ranch property. The company that has long been cursed by locals for a series of bonehead moves, most notably tearing down the old “Cowboy Bar” which was the original lodge, will be no more.

Winter, Spring and other Rim stories

This winter reminds me of what the old-timers have consistently told me about winters here: It hasn’t been like it used to be. Yet to many, it’s obvious that this winter has been different. The totals from our earlier storm were on par with that of the 1967 snow and 1970 flood. The moisture, unlike many recent years, hasn’t stopped coming. In many ways, it’s an old-time winter. How was it back then? Here’s a clip from a conversation I had with longtime Mead Ranch local Royce O’Donnell a couple years ago.

Arizona State Archives and Department of Mines

In Payson the big story when it comes to the state budget is the potential closing of the Tonto Natural Bridge, but for historians and genealogists the threat to history research centers like the state archives has been a point of concern. Recently I did a little research at the Arizona State Archives and at the Arizona Department of Mining and Mineral Resources. Here’s a sense of what is happening there.

History in progress?

The storm that recently hit the state surely made an impact. Outside of Payson where I live, we had well over a couple feet of snow along with rain mixed in. We had power outages — power outages, which weigh a little heavier on everyone after the extended one in December. Commentators have called this a storm for the ages and I’ve read comparisons of it to the flood of 1970, so let’s take a look at where this might rank years from now.

haunting new year tragedy

The year 1965 was less than a week old when tragedy struck Payson: four youths were killed in Payson’s jail. Even 45 years later, it’s an incident that still ranks amongst one of the most tragic in Rim Country.

The Excursion Mine

Southwest of Payson, the land lies mostly still. Yet poking around into the history reveals far more than just a chunk of private land in the midst of Tonto National Forest. It reveals ties to a big local name and a big state name. This is the story of the Excursion Mine.

Payson Commercial & Trust

Many say that the United States has its worst economy since the 1930s. It’s worth noting that even the little town of Payson was not immune to a key widespread problem during the 1930s: bank failures. Here’s the story of Payson’s first bank and how it collapsed during the Great Depression.

Oral histories capture more than memories

There are a number of tools that historians use to help them piece together the past. Old newspapers, old documents and family records are often used. But oral histories sometimes get lost in the shuffle, even though they can be amongst the most valuable. Good oral histories provide a good basis for historians long after the interviewees are gone. This week we look at two major collections of oral histories that have been done locally.

History near the water wheel site

The recent Water Wheel Fire was near three old homesteads, two of which have since been developed into subdivisions. This provides a perfect chance to take a glimpse at the past of this general area.

The 1970 Labor Day Flood

There are two weather events that old timers like to talk to historians about. The first is the big snow of 1967; the second is the flood of 1970. This week we focus on the latter, presented with some great pictures from Hazel McBrayer and family.

The Summit Mine

Just a little bit outside of the Country Club Vista subdivision in northwest Payson lays a rather interesting spot.

August Pieper and his brewery


Payson became a town in 1882 and obtained its first post office and held its first rodeo in 1884. On the heels of this, in 1885 it appears that Pinal Brewery made its way in some form to Payson. A deed dated July 12, 1885 shows a transaction between Charles Bohren (Grantor) and Fred Rechenmacher, August Pieper, Frank Bissig, and Carl [sic] Soyer (Grantees). It states that the grantees are “partners doing business under the name Pinal Brewing Co.”

Patriotic partying in Rim Country

Payson and the surrounding area have long had a reputation as being quite a party place. With the 4th of July falling on a Saturday this year, it provides a perfect opportunity to look back upon some of the festive times had in this area.

The deadly fires of 1961

With a slate of cool temperatures recently, it’s easy to forget that June usually heats up, and as temperatures rise, the risk of a major fire increases. There have been some wicked fires in years past. There was Rodeo-Chediski in 2002 and the “angry Dude” in 1990. But when you look for a combination of multiple fires and air fatalities, 1961 was a year for the ages.

The way Rim forests have changed

The way that our forests are handled has changed through the years. The U.S. Forest Service is not much more than 100 years old and quite a lot has changed from the time it was created.

Tonto Natural Bridge and its long road to becoming a state park

The fight for Tonto Natural Bridge to be open to the public is not a new one. As recently as the late 1980s this wonder of nature was private land. Here’s a look at the bridge and how it became an Arizona State Park.

Payson, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory

Payson was part of Yavapai County? It may have been a long time ago, but it is true. Up until 1889, Payson and most of Rim Country was part of Yavapai County, with the county seat in Prescott. Here’s a look at how things were in those days and how Payson ended up being in Gila County.

Davey Gowan and the Gowan Mine

Tonto Natural Bridge has been in the news quite a bit lately. Davey Gowan is closely associated with the bridge, but the bridge and surrounding area was not the only thing that Gowan worked on in Rim Country. He also discovered a mine that he named for himself.

Who was Lewis Edwin Payson?

On March 3, 1884, Green Valley opened its first post office. Soon thereafter, Green Valley became known as Payson, in honor of the man who helped them get the post office, Lewis Edwin Payson.

Early mining in Payson had a big impact

One of the biggest “forgotten” stories in Rim Country is the impact that mining had early in Payson’s history. The area is known for its ranching, and certainly it became a big part of the economy. Mining though was a key thing early on. The early settlers found lots of promise on the surface, though as time went on it never materialized as much as hoped. Here’s a look at some of the early happenings.

Answering the McLane Road question

A 1978 Payson Roundup carried the following headline: “Old Main merchants question naming of McLane Road.” At the time the merchants were asking the Payson Town Council to rename the road “Old Payson Trail.”

A sampling of brands from 1908

One of the neat items available online through the Arizona Memory Project is a brand book from 1908. This book has brands from all around the state and covers brands recorded from April 28, 1897 to July 13, 1908. Here’s a look back at some of those brands and a brief look at the people who had them.

Bert Slater, founder of the Roundup

Bert Slater, originally from Illinois, started the Payson Roundup in 1946. About a year or so before he died in 1957, he wrote his story of the paper. Here’s what he said:

bootleggers in rim country

In the late 1910s, 1920s, and early 1930s, Rim Country became host to a number of bootleggers as prohibition took effect. Some were locals who had been born and bred here; others came from across the country. The moonshine was known as “Payson Dew” and gained a positive reputation with many. Today we look at a few producers of these goods.

Reunions have a variety of values

Recently I had my 10-year high school reunion. It was probably the first time that the magnitude of the whole “reunion” thing hit me.

It’s the Zane Grey time of year

We’re now in October, which brings us many things in Rim Country: cooler temperatures, changing colors, possibly the first frost. It’s also the month of the year that’s probably most associated with Zane Grey. After all, October was often the month that Grey spent time here, hunting various animals under the Rim and researching for his many novels. So I thought that this might be an appropriate time to once again discuss Zane Grey.

Rim Country History

LEONA FUEL and her Payson correspondent columns of 1929

The year 1929 was the end of the Roaring ’20s and also the end of Zane Grey’s time in Rim Country. During that time the Arizona Republican (today’s Arizona Republic) ran weekly correspondent columns from around the state. Payson’s column was written by Leona Fuel, a Payson schoolteacher. This week, we look at bits and pieces of the Payson scene as written by Fuel.

The election of 1900

The primary elections and presidential conventions have come and gone and the general election draws closer. This week, I thought it might be fun to go back to the fall of 1900 and look at how the area responded to that election.

The election of 1900

The primary elections and presidential conventions have come and gone and the general election draws closer. This week, I thought it might be fun to go back to the fall of 1900 and look at how the area responded to that election

A piece of history from 1885


Recently I came across a postcard sent from Payson in 1885. This is quite a find.

The places of my childhood

I've been coming up to Rim Country ever since I was born, some 28 years.

Looking back at Rim Country gardening

Our second "spring" is here, as the monsoon rains have spurred on gardens throughout Rim Country

New book gives deeper view of Zane Grey


Believe it or not, my book related to Zane Grey is not the only new one on the market. Candace Kant, who did a brilliant job with "Zane Grey's Arizona" in the early 1980s, has just released another book about him. It's entitled "Dolly & Zane Grey, Letters from a Marriage." I got the book recently and made a very quick read of it. For anyone looking to get a more in-depth feel of Zane Grey's life, this is a great book.

Christopher Creek's uranium mine

A lot of people in Payson don't realize it, but in Christopher Creek they sure do.