An Hour Spent Peering into Zane Grey’s World

The most recent little trip was to Payson, Arizona–with hubby and daughter. We drove northeast on the Beeline. The landscape was dotted with saguaros for the first half of the drive.

Many or most of the saguaros had flowering tips.

We followed behind this truck for awhile :/. At a certain point, the saguaros disappeared as we were at an altitude where they can’t live.

None of us had ever visited Payson before. I had expected a quaint village, fun little shops, that sort of thing. The economy didn’t look very strong, and there wasn’t too much that was quaint.

We tried to find the candle factory, only to discover it was just a gift shop. We had a pretty good laugh about that.

But next door there was a fudge shop where we each picked out a flavor. Caramel pecan, creme brulee, and rocky road. The ceiling was tentlike and they sold little sculptures made out of spoons.

I enjoyed these sculptures. The young man who helped us with our fudge said his father made them.

We drove past these odd old buildings. Notice the new construction behind.

We had each selected something we wanted to see. Daughter = candle factory. Scratch that. Hubby = antique stores. They were out of biz, closed, or not very good. Scratch that. Me = The Zane Grey cabin and museum. Woot–that turned out to be a winner.

Zane Grey, if you don’t know, was a writer of frontier novels and short stories. He was responsible for creating (or helping to create) a very romantic image of the American cowboy. He was also a very enthusiastic and talented hunter. When he was older, he began to have second thoughts about all that hunting and joined the Izaak Walton League to promote conservation.

The cabin is a reconstruction because Grey’s original cabin burned down in a big 1990 fire, but it was fascinating to see it and hear about the writer’s life in Arizona. Did you know that Hemingway ripped him off? I think it was The Old Man and the Sea that took its story from one of Grey’s–an unpublished one that Grey had let Hemingway read before Hemingway wrote his “masterpiece.”

They didn’t let me take pix of the cabin’s interior.

But next door was an old cabin that used to house eight people. We all had a hard time getting our minds around that as the interior is very small. You can’t really tell that from the photo. Apparently the Haught family built (1904) and lived here while they built their “real” house. It took about two years.

After viewing these two buildings, we toured the museum. Our tour guide was an old-fashioned schoolteacher type (you can draw your own conclusions). She did a great job teaching us about the Tonto Apache and the history of the vicinity. This is where I plugged Adrienne Morris’ wonderful novel about just this subject: The House on Tenafly Road. You can read my review here if you missed it: book review.


Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, History, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

41 responses to “An Hour Spent Peering into Zane Grey’s World

  1. My father was a big reader of Zane Grey’s books. I don’t remember much about them but he had a huge collection.

  2. Zane Grey was my Dad’s favourite author

  3. Zane Grey’s influence is so pervasive it’s difficult to measure. He defined a genre that has dominated the American imagination for decades. He was a true master of his art. I’m glad your visit to the museum was worth the while. I’ll have to add it to my list of places to see. 🙂

    • What also intrigues me is that for a writer who has shaped so much of our thinking and the image of what America is and where it came from he might as well have not existed at all if you have “lived” in a college English department. Not sure that makes sense. But after all those years studying and then teaching in one, nobody ever talked about him. I didn’t hear papers about him at conferences. His name wasn’t on reading lists.

      • Well, popular (pulp) genre literature is often considered a lower form in academic circles. I suspect it will one day receive due consideration, but probably not in our lifetimes, though. Zane Grey also deserves to be on reading lists in history and psychology, not to mention film studies.

  4. Great pictures. I was recently in South Carolina and bought one of those silverware statues! Mine has two forks folded as arms, and each one holds a pepper or salt dispenser. I loved it so much I bought one for my mom too!

  5. I’ve heard of Zane Grey, of course, but I don’t think I’ve read any of his work. The fudge shop looked fun (and yummy), and the tour sounds like it was interesting. It sounds like it was a fun trip! 🙂

  6. You took us there!

  7. Thanks, Luanne for the idea on the day trip. Chocolate and writing – sounds like a fabulous day.

    • Except that I had the praline type one and it didn’t have chocolate ;), but then I did steal some of hubby’s rocky road . . . . . Maybe you will do some traveling this summer while school is out?!

  8. Thanks for the tour of Payson! I loved your photos and report, especially re: Zane Grey. I recommend that you should put Zanesville, Ohio, on your list of places to visit.,_Ohio

  9. What a fun trip! I have never read Zane Grey, but my husband likes his work. I think there was something related to him on Catalina Island? Beautiful photos.

    • Isn’t it funny how there are writers like Grey who are SO popular and we can go through an entire PhD program in English and not be exposed to someone who has been such an influence on the culture?!
      I didn’t know that about Catalina, but I am not surprised. Apparently, he was a huge hunter and fisherman for years and very well known for his “sportsmanship” (not the word I would use ahem!!!!!).

  10. I’ve heard of Zane Grey, but haven’t read any of his work (yet), Luanne.

    I love the Little Stinker truck! What was it carrying?

  11. Great pictures, Luanne. The shot of the cabin is beautiful. What was it like inside?

    • One large room, very large. One of the things I most remember is that the hunting coats/cloaks were hung very high on wall pegs. You would need a pole to pull them down. The reason is that they were covered with bear grease, etc., and the hunting dogs would go after them otherwise.

  12. I really enjoyed going on this trip with you. Zane Gray was one of my grandfather’s favorite authors, so I’ve always carried a soft spot for him. Wish I could read that unpublished story that Hemingway ripped off.

    • It seems as if they said that it did end up being published, but I can’t remember which Grey story was the “inspiration” for The Old Man and the Sea. I’ve always been a bad aural learner. Much better visual learner.

  13. Thanks for the tour Luanne, judging from the comment Zane Grey was very popular! I quite like that little cabin, looks nice and cosy – though maybe not to live in 🙂

    • It was very cozy, though not as cleverly designed inside as the new tiny houses I’ve been watching on television. The tiny houses remind me of the converted garage that Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton’s mystery heroine) lives in.

  14. Love the photos and the tour…My father read Zane Gray all his youth–and many years before he died, I found a volume of Gray’s fishing stories–for a Westerner and fly fisherman, i couldn’t have given him anything more wonderful! Thank you for the memories, Luanne.

    • Oh, I’m so glad I could remind you of a happy memory, Sharon! I knew Grey was extremely popular, but it’s so interesting to hear how many blog readers have a personal connection!

  15. I’ve been to Payson, lol. And I am so, so jealous of your desert adventures. And your spring cactus bloom pics! We were in the desert last spring and OMG, the colors are amazing. We’re heading back next year. It’s beautiful beyond words. P.S. Zane Grey cabin/museum–I’m doubly jealous. Glad you’re out soaking up the sunshine. (If you have a moment, send a bit up this way, okay? It’s been cloudy, cloudy, cloudy for days.) Cheers and happy, happy.

    • Cinthia, I just saw a horror movie that took place in Alaska. The one about the giant mutant bear that stalks and kills humans? hahaha They said they had 4 hours of sunlight and that was mostly twilight or dusk or somesuch. YIKES. What does someone in Alaska do that has SAD–Seasonal Affective Disorder? Are there drugs for that? Or grow lights?
      That said, I know Alaska has GORGEOUS views, so I am missing out on those. My mom is in Michigan and she said the weather there has also been gloomy, cloudy, rainy, chilly, very little sun and warmth. But y’all think of us come July when it’s 115 degrees and sticky.

  16. I really enjoyed this post because I used to know a man who collected Zane Grey books so I read a few of them. Luanne, they aren’t too bad and I admire that you wished to see his “home.”
    A post or so back, I was late to comment but wrote a heartfelt response about elephants. I liked your MIL’s elephant collection and feel bad that people were so cruel to such gentle giant as the elephants. You only missed one other late comment. The teacher tour guide reminds me of myself, trying to teach, pass on wisdom and hope I can make a small contribution to this big, wide world. 🙂

    • Aw, thank you, Robin. I loved your comment on the elephant post. Your comments are always insightful and thoughtful!!! The tour guide was wonderful. She conjured up images of wooden desks with inkwells and #2 pencils and chalk on the side of my hands.
      I read some of them, too, but I was a kid and trying to be “cool.” They seemed grownup to me.

      • The inkwells and how they were built into desks was a cool feature. I only remember a few of these desks remaining in schools as an elementary student, Luanne. I remember #2 pencils leaving a great scent of “wood” when I emptied the sharpener into the trash! Chalk from the erasers banging together outside was fun, too. Walking down the memory lane and responding to a post from 6 days ago! 🙂

        • I remember my 5th grade desk VERY well and it had an inkwell, they all did. And 6th grade, too. Some kids used to stuff trash in the ink well, but I thought that was a nasty habit. I went to different schools before that–newer ones–and I remember 4th and 3rd grade were formica topped plain desks.

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