Christopher Creek is one of the many small residential enclaves in Rim Country. Each has a story of how it came to be and our story goes like this. Sometime in the 1870s, a French trapper arrived in the area. Here he found a stream that flowed six or seven miles from high in the canyon below Black Mesa down to the confluence with another year-round creek to become known as Tonto. He also found two large meadows with tall grasses and fertile soil. Trappers were itinerant by nature, which leads us to speculate as to why he chose this particular place to settle. Perhaps he found this to be a good place for his base of operations. Another possibility may be that the streams under the high mesa were simply becoming trapped out. Could be he just took a fancy to the lower meadow. What we do know is he built his cabin here, planted beans and a garden. He had a home in the canyon. The creek soon bore his name — Christopher.
Fast-forward to the early 1900s and we have new settlers arriving in the area. Frank Gillette tells this story — A Texan, John Bowman, his wife Kate, their full-grown son, Lewis, and John’s mother, Grannie arrived at the edge of the Rim. The descent nearly cost Kate and Grannie their lives. With Kate at the reins, their wagon capsized pitching her and Grannie off the mountain. Kate suffered a broken leg. The year was 1903; there were no emergency services. A small ranch near the base of the Rim belonged to Sam Sharp (Sharp Creek). Sam sent Lewis miles down the trail to enlist the help of Sarah and Henry Haught to splint Kate’s leg and get her to the bottom. She survived and walked with a bad limp for the rest of her life.
It may have been Sam who told Bowman about Isador Christopher’s talk of selling out. It was soon after that John Bowman bought the CI ranch and that gets us back how we got here. For in 1917, John filed for and received the patent rights to what is now Christopher Creek. The Homestead Act was enacted in 1862 allowing settlers to “prove up” on their property. The earliest patents in northern Gila County were awarded to a fellow named Logan in 1887 and 1890, south and west of Payson. Records tell us early patents were awarded around 1908 in Pine, Strawberry and Star Valley. How we got from Bowman’s 1917 patent to what we have today we will have to save until next time.
Friday’s five o’clock soiree at the Landmark is alive and well. These things usually have a life cycle, but this gathering’s popularity seems to be growing. Last weekend there were around 65 folks in attendance. The occasion was a thank you from Samone, Josh and their staff. Boy, did they put out the food: roast beef sliders, fresh from the kitchen, kept coming and coming. Choices of chicken wings, soups, and a french-fry-looking funnel cake were the highlights. Everyone enjoyed the evening immensely. Hats off to the Landmark. They will remain open until the middle of December and poker will be at 6 p.m. Fridays.
Saturday at noon we enjoyed a visit from Marlys, a former owner of the old Landmark going back 25 years. Her daughter, Jackie, brought her up from the Valley. Her son, Pete and his wife, Laura, were there, as were a number of locals who came by to say hello.
Saturday evening, Rhonda and Ron Louch hosted a wonderful sit-down dinner for 10 in the Garage Mahal. Guests included Dave and Carol, Tick and Carla, Pete and Laura, Gorecki and me. All had a hand in erecting their new carport.
This tale starts when Creekside RV resident, Karen Nelson, decorated a tiny pine tree with a short string of Christmas lights. A young bull elk was seen admiring the decorations. The next thing you know, the string of lights were wrapped around the bull’s rack with the solar cell on its back. We can’t wait for the first report of colored lights moving through the woods some night.
Speaking of Creekside RV, thanks to park owner, Dave Combs, for stepping up when the engine threw a rod. He is now a minority shareholder in a log splitter.
Local Christopher-Kohls Fire Department firefighters, Captain Chad Stluka and Ben Perry remain on assignment in Southern California as that state continues to burn.
The fiber optic cable that feeds cell service and internet in this area has had two outages recently. The company line is that squirrels chewed through the cable. Conspiracy theorists say ... that’s another week in the Creek.