Under the Tonto Rim, Code of the West, To the Last Man, are all western thrillers written by Zane Grey, one of the most prolific writers of all time. The inspiration for these and many of Grey's 85 novels, 114 movies, and 215 short stories was the Tonto Rim, also known as "Zane Grey Country."
The son of a farmer, preacher, and dentist, Pearl Zane Grey attended the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship. Despite the fact that he knew more about baseball than chemistry, he eventually graduated from the school of denistry. But Grey's talent was with a pen rather than a drill, and his many trips to his beloved spot under the Tonto Rim both inspired him and gave him the experience he needed to chronicle this exciting new frontier.
The popular Western novelist retreated frequently during the early decades of the 1900s to the cabin he had built near the headwaters of Tonto Creek. Here he would sit in a Morris chair on the porch of his hunting lodge overlooking the Tonto Basin. In longhand, on a lapboard, he would dash off a new western in as little as a month.
His frontier epics were drawn from real life. Plots came from authentic range wars. Settings were created by lowering his manuscript and looking about him. Arizona's Rim Country's pioneering Haught family, some of whom served as guides on his hunting trips and from whom he bought land for his cabin, became featured characters in his novels.
Among the five movies based on his novels that were filmed in Arizona Rim Country. To the Last Man is probably the best known. It stars Nash Berry, Richard Dix and Lois Wilson, and recounts the story of the Pleasant Valley War and the infamous Graham-Tewksbury feud.
Grey's books, which have been translated into over 20 languages, are noted for their vivid imagery, their descriptions of scenery, and for their ability to appeal to readers' senses of smell and sound as well as sight.
While Grey's original cabin burned down in the 1990 Dude Fire, a replica featuring many original artifacts is planned for the Rim Country Museum in downtown Payson.
To this day, his writings serve as foundation to understanding our early western heritage and the frontier life of our forefathers. Zane Grey tours are available at the Chamber of Commerce and various outfitting businesses to visit some of the places Zane Grey depicted in his novels.
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