Desert Messenger

April 19, 2017

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April 19, 2017 15 READER'S OASIS BOOKS 690 E. Main - Quartzsite (one block east of Family Dollar) 928-927-6551 QUARTZSITE COMMUNITY THRIFT STORE 177 W. Main St. (end of Showplace Lane) Behind Silly Al's Pizza SUMMER HOURS April thru October Thurs. Fri. Sat. 9am-1pm Call us and schedule a donation pickup 928-927-6039 or 928-916-7338. 100% of our proceeds remain here in Quartzsite! WINTER HOURS November thru March Mon- Sat 9am-1pm QUARTZSITE COMMUNITY THRIFT STORE of the Rim into the forest. Basalt lava fl ows create jagged outcrops throughout the landscape, and an abundance of fl oral and faunal spe- cies from both mountain and desert environments fl ourish together on these high plateaus and steep slopes. The Tonto Apache farmed and hunt- ed this land, and its natural wealth was well known amongst the natives who lived in the forests and deserts between the adolescent towns of Flagstaff and Phoenix. One par- ticular location of travertine cliffs and caves was exceptionally fertile and beautiful. It was this place that a Scotsman named David Gowan stumbled upon in 1877. Gowan, a gold prospector exploring for gold in the Mogollon Rim area, fi rst laid eyes on the enormous natural bridge while searching in a canyon for water. This wonder he saw was a natural tunnel of white quartzsite and limestone 183 feet high, 150 feet wide and 400 feet long. The interior of the tunnel was decorated with travertine terraces, caves, pools, and various formations covered in moss. Stalactites and stalagmites were abundant, and a waterfall tumbled gracefully from the top of the open- ing. Hanging gardens of mosses and ferns decorated crevices in the cliffs while swatches of ochre and gray colored the faces. It was a breath- taking sight. Gowan continued to explore the area, and often used the caves within the tunnel to hide from the Tonto Apache. After deciding he wanted to live there, he persuaded his fam- ily to relocate to the forest near the natural bridge. He claimed the ROCKS FROM PAGE 14 land through squatter's rights, and negotiated with the Tonto Apache for a small swatch of their land located in and around the natural bridge. Through long and arduous commu- nication, and Gowan's very respect- ful diplomacy, the Apache eventu- ally gave in. Gowan and his family became the fi rst white inhabitants of the Tonto wilderness, a good twelve miles north of Payson, AZ. They lowered their belongings down into the canyon using burros and ropes and began to build a homestead on 160 acres of rugged forest land. Soon the family had built a cabin and planted walnut, apricot, peach, apple, cherry and pear trees. They farmed the land, hunted game, and searched for gold on their land around Natural Bridge until about 1948. In the early 1940's the Gowans tired of their isolated paradise home, and began discussing its potential as a tourist attraction. Meanwhile, back in 1908, a starving writer named Zane Grey had come from Ohio to visit the Grand Canyon and fell in love with the wild beauty of the Mo- gollon Rim. By 1918 he had moved to Payson and purchased plots of land near Tonto Creek. There he began his prolifi c career as a writer of Western novels. Though he came to Payson as a starving writer, before long his tales of the western frontier elevated him to the status of "The Father of the Western Novel". The heart of Zane Grey's Arizona was the Rim Country and the Tonto Ba- sin, and virtually all of his 64 novels, over 300 short stories, 10 non-fi ction westerns, as well as hunting and fi sh- ing articles and books were enor- mously successful. By 1940 over 100 movies had been made based on Grey's books. America had also fallen in love with the wild and rug- ged Arizona so beloved by Zane Grey. In the 1940's David Gowan began marketing his Tonto Basin paradise looking for someone with the exper- tise, willingness, and resources to de- velop it. During his trips to Phoenix to fetch supplies, Gowan spoke of his "Natural Bridge" located in the heart of Zane Grey's famous rim country. One local reporter, considering it a news item of international impor- tance, dispatched a story about it. A businessman from Flagstaff named Goodfellow heard of the opportunity and loaded his wife and family with their belongings onto a wagon pulled by a team of horses. Six days later they arrived at the Natural Bridge. They, too, fell in love with Zane Grey's wild and rugged Tonto Basin. The Goodfellows converted some of the rocky land near the Gowan homestead into farmland, built a home and proceeded to work on developing the Natural Bridge for visitors. They constructed a primi- tive road into the location, built six small guest cabins, and eventually a ten-room lodge with running water. At this time, the town of Payson was very isolated from the growing metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Flagstaff, with a trip from Phoenix to Payson through the rugged moun- tains taking eight to twelve hours. During the 1930's an effort to build a paved road from Phoenix to Payson began. This quick, direct route, known as "The Beeline", was fi nally completed in 1958, and opened up Zane Grey's rim country and David Gowan's Natural Bridge to the world. By the 1960's, the Goodfellows had built a paved road into down into the canyon and had installed ladders down to the bottom of the Bridge. The resort became a popular place for locals to visit and hold special events like weddings. It became a park in 1969, but remained privately owned, until the State Parks Board purchased it in 1990 and it became Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. If you are visiting the Rim Country this summer, make a point to stop at Tonto Natural Bridge. Located just off AZ Highway 87, it is easily accessible in just a short drive from either Phoenix or Flagstaff. Spend the day hiking the several short trails and visiting the Gowan cabin, and then head to Payson to enjoy camp- ing and exploring in Zane Grey's famous hometown. For photos of Tonto Natural Bridge and to access our other articles and photojour- nals, please visit our website www. We also have rocks, fossils, minerals, and craft supplies as well as lots of great books and resources available through our site. Watch for awe- some kids kits, also, coming soon. To purchase photos, get on our mailing list, or for information about our consulting services email us at And, as always, happy trails! DEADLINE : WED. APRIL 26 TH for the may 3 rd edition Desert Messenger News Email: 928-916-4235

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