We are continuing to investigate legends that originated along the Crook Military Road, today’s Forest Road 300.
We continue east from the grave of the “bumbling trapper” and the gravel road soon turns to blacktop. The road passes a turnoff to Woods Canyon Lake, a name that holds legends of its own. However the junction with State Route 260 is just ahead, and the place is called Fulton Point, complete with a National Forest Information Center. The altitude here is 7,600 feet. Near the parking lot is the grave of Al Fulton and another legend.
A footpath leads east from the parking lot, and this is the continuation of the Crook Military Road (marked by white chevrons). The trail ultimately ends at Fort Apache in the White Mountains.
With a short walk a sign is seen announcing “Fulton Gravesite 600 feet.” It points left toward “Lake Number One.” This “lake” is more of a wetland area, and across on the other side can be seen Highway 260. It was a camping place for military and pioneer wagon trains because of the presence of water. It was also on the trail used by settlers from Young and Pleasant Valley driving their sheep and cattle to the train at Holbrook.
Fulton’s death occurred in 1888 during the second year of what is called the Pleasant Valley War. Fulton was a young sheepherder in his early 20s, who, with his brother Harry, brought sheep from Texas to Arizona. When they detrained at Holbrook they knew nothing about the murderous feud going on between two factions, the Grahams (cattle ranchers) and the Tewksburys (sheep ranchers). As the Fultons herded their sheep toward Pleasant Valley a violent faction of the cattle ranchers trailed them out of Holbrook, and at this place on the Rim the cowboys stampeded the sheep into a sinkhole. You can go down into it just north of the highway here at the information center.
There are two different stories about how Al was murdered. One says that the cowboys shot him. The other says that he died at the bottom of the sinkhole under the hooves of the stampeding herd of sheep. His brother Harry escaped and in time became a prominent sheep rancher in the Flagstaff area. Al Fulton was buried there on the edge of the Mogollon Rim and the place came to be called Fulton Point. As years passed tourists desecrated the grave, so the Forest Service moved it back into the woods where it is today.
In 1992 someone tried to dig up Al Fulton’s remains but when they came to the concrete slab protecting them the grave robbers gave up. The headstone has been changed several times. But the walk to “rediscover” the Fulton grave is worth it for anyone interested in Rim Country history or who enjoys returning in one’s imagination to the “days of old.”
When you have paid respects to Al Fulton, walk back to the parking lot, and return to SR 260. Turn left and head down off the Rim. You will drive through beautiful forest land as you come down “under the Rim,” passing through such fascinating places as Christopher Creek, Tonto Creek and Kohl’s Ranch, Camp Tontozona, Little Green Valley and Star Valley. The highway leads you back to the town of Payson.