The Christopher Creek area has been my bailiwick for many years. There is no place that gives me more enjoyment, unless it would be one of the ranches that surround this area. We have made many trips to the historic OW Ranch when Larry and Patty lived there. We recently were introduced to the Bar X Ranch. Then a week ago we had the opportunity to meet Mike Horton and tour the Gillette Ranch. The spread is tucked into the bottom of Haigler Creek Canyon. If you look close, you can see part of the ranch meadow as you descend the Chamberlain Trail a mile or so down from Turkey Peak.
Mr. Horton greeted us at the gate and led us to the homestead. He told us of the time frame of his ownership. Mike bought the ranch in 1979 and, as he put it, “... with just enough to make the down payment and no idea where the money to make future payments would come from.”
A hundred years ago, Vern Gillette cowboyed for Jim Ramer over at the OW Ranch. Vern left the OW after several years of hard work and moved on to another outfit. He was running with Lewis Bowman at the time and between them they were courting the Belluzzi sisters. One day, out of the blue, he ran into Jim Ramer at a bar. Hearing of Vern’s impending wedding, Ramer offered the ranch down in Haigler Canyon as sort of a wedding gift ... no strings attached. The ranch was the birthplace of author, Frank Gillette. In his later years, Frank wrote an insightful book on the area called Pleasant Valley.
Mike Horton showed us the interior of the pine log traditional cabin ... not a dog run layout. There is work being done to return the cabin to its original state. Haigler Creek was running high not 100 feet from the porch. He, also, showed us the two or three remaining trees of the old apple orchard. We want to thank Mike Horton for the rare experience of touring his ranch.
Seven years ago we began this column, not really knowing exactly what we were doing or how to go about it. Fortunately, early on we ran into a story about Del Worcester, a young kid from Ohio, who crashed his plane high up in See Canyon. We spent two delightful days interviewing the Worcester family in Jan Clark’s cabin at Mountain Meadows Bible Camp. We learned enough in those lengthy interviews to fill three weeks’ worth of columns.
Year two of this adventure was the year of the Great Columbine Cattle Drive. A fella named Heber from Young provided the excitement as two cowboys drove a half-dozen head of cows up the road, or through the yards, and across the porch of one resident.
2015 was the year of the big “Too Tall Bill Hamner” retirement party. Everybody in the Creek and a bunch from Yuma made up the 150 celebrants. Bill’s buddies in the Mogollon Band provided the entertainment.
Year four marked the passing of The Creek’s matriarch, Mimi Tidwell. It was the first column of the year, as 95-year-old Mimi chose a full moon on Christmas Day while it was snowing to depart from us.
Each year we give a lot of attention to the annual Independence Day Parade and 2017 was no exception. Nancy Corley was parade marshal and it was the year of Owen Green and the SS Christopher Creek. 2017 was, also, the year Don and Kiki Farmer hauled a dozen bags of trash left behind a campsite on FR 284.
2018 was the year of the huge community effort in repairing “The Carwash” and christening it Mimi’s Crossing. The ambitious undertaking was not much of a challenge for the wealth of talent of folks here in the Creek. What we lacked in talent, we made up for in sheer numbers. Not even a red tag could stop us.
In 2019 one of my favorite stories was the fantasy flight of a hapless turkey buzzard and how he survived a crash landing on the Armentas’ porch roof. Once in awhile a guy has to have a little fun.
Now it’s March 2020 and we begin year eight. It is off to a rocky start. For the first time, this column is a tag-team effort. My painful left wrist sprain has required me to enlist my friend, Karen Thornton, to do the typing. Thanks, Karen.
Last Friday evening we spoke with the young people in charge at Creekside. Aubrey and Adam are from Show Low. Aubrey says this is her dream job. Adam whipped up an exotic snack to show me some of his talents. We wish them good luck.
We’re looking forward to The Landmark opening next weekend ... and that’s another week in the Creek.