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Gila County Stories - Zane Grey - By Jinx Pyle

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Zane Grey, the greatest storyteller of the American West, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, on January 31, 1872. His Zane ancestors had been vigorous, illustrious pioneers in America's "First West", the historic Ohio Valley, and his boyhood thrill at their adventures would eventually motivate Grey to novelize both his family's own story and the stories of many another pioneer homesteader, farm wife, rancher, cowhand, naive Eastern belle, camp follower, miner, Indian youth, trail driver, railroad man, desperado, buffalo hunter, soldier, gambler, wanderer and poor wayfaring stranger, as the great migration Westward coursed in waves across the continent.

In his youth Zane Grey was a semiprofessional baseball player and a half-hearted dentist, having studied dentistry to appease his father while on a baseball scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. But he wanted above all to write, and taught himself to write with much stern discipline so as to free his innate and immense storytelling capacity. Many a lean year came and went as he waited for a publisher to finally recognize a best-seller when it saw one. For Zane Grey became the best-selling Western author of all time, and for most of the teens, 20s, and 30s, had a least one novel in the top ten every year.

Grey spent a lot of time in his 1922 cabin near Tonto Creek, Arizona in Gila County, writing when not hunting or fishing.

Before he left in a huff over a hunting permit and vowed "To Never Return", Grey had written 24 novels based in Arizona, half of those set in the Tonto Basin.

Grey’s original cabin burned in the 1990 Dude Fire, but local fan Dick Wolfe wouldn’t let Grey’s legacy remain in ashes. As president of the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation, he led the charge to re-create Grey’s cabin, relocating it in Payson as part of the Rim Country Museum. The cabin, complete with Grey memorabilia and decorated to look like Grey’s hunting-fishing-writing camp, opened in October 2005.

“The cabin allows visitors to learn more about Grey and his time here and his place in history,” Wolfe says.

For more information about Zane Grey and his love for Rim Country visit

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