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Tuesday, January 5, 2016


 Where I grew up our water was hauled in; First by wagon and then by train so we used it very sparingly. No grass, no pools, so to go swimming we had to drive close to 50 miles to "Granite Dells" just west of Prescott, Arizona. It was a man made pool that was fed by a fresh creek and going there was a very special treat.
A splice of the history of the Dells
The 1899 Prescott Weekly Courier article reported: "Thomas Wing and his son, James, have 500 fruit-bearing trees and thousands of grapevines, all healthy and thriving."

To help water the orchards and crops, James Wing built an irrigation system, which transported Granite Creek water to the Dells ranch.

He began the project in 1885 by building a small rock dam immediately south of the intersection of Granite Creek and Little Boulder Canyon, and later ran a ditch to the original pond that would later become the Granite Dells swimming lake.

The irrigation system featured an elaborate network of flumes (artificial water channels).

"Uncle Jimmy's ditch was a marvelous thing," his descendants wrote.

In a nod to the historic endeavor, the
City of Prescott would later name one of its recreational trails through the area the Flume Trail. A walk along the creek reveals remains of the early system.

In the 1940s, Wing's descendants Morris and Howell Payne made repairs to the deteriorating system by installing metal pipes.

Along with watering the crops, the ditch/pipe system also became the lifeblood of the recreational business that the Paynes developed at the Granite Dells Resort.

I was not old enough to enjoy the dancing and we lived too close to rent a cottage but it was a wonderful place with big trees to picnic under and all those big bolders.
and one tree served as diving platform.

Sherman Payne's father Morris Payne ran the resort (with his brother Howell) from about 1922 to 1971, when he chose to close it because of concerns that he was getting too old to do the increasing amount of upkeep, and he "was running out of grandchildren" to help. In addition, liability insurance costs had skyrocketed.

While the pool opened again briefly from 1978 to 1982, it eventually closed for good.
There was a push to try tp preserve it but to no avail...

We took our daughter and son-in-law there before it became a private community to show where I use to swim and of course in my eyes I was seeing all the above but in truth this is what her eyes beheld...
and in fact the bath house was gone as well.
It is now a private community and this is the entrance...

So much for those days of old that runs around in my memories.



JMD said...

Thank you for sharing this story and the photos. I had no idea. We live in the Verde Valley and I can certainly understand why this swimming area would be such a huge hit. Do you remember how much it cost to go there? Did people bring food to eat? Fascinating.

Tired Teacher said...

Good memories, and the old and new photos show the contrast well. It's sad to see that the swimming lake no longer exists.

Michelle said...

Great memories, for sure!

Mari said...

I love seeing those old pictures, but it sure is sad the way things change.

Tracy Batchelder said...

By the looks of the old photos, you aren't the only one out there with good memories of this place. I'm sure the new community is lovely, but it's too bad no one was able to keep the resort going.

Granny Annie said...

We continue erasing so many fun and exciting places. Is it really progress to do so?

Debbie said...

A great story and some wonderful memories!! Things sure have changed, I enjoyed looking at all the vintage photos!!

Lady Di Tn said...

Thanks for sharing the history and the before and after photos. No water trains in the area of TN. I grew up but I have carried or as we say Toked a lot of water in 2 gallon tin buckets. You quickly learned to carry two at a time. I was in high school before we were forced (our house burned and I was almost a statistic) to rent a house with running water. When I get into a shower, I still say a thankful prayer for running water. Peace

Shilpa Chandrasekheran said...

Awesome post n loved the pics
Happy new year !

Far Side of Fifty said...

I enjoyed this post very much, so sad to see what it has become:(