Young, Pleasant Valley Fly In
By Mark Spencer
Photos provided by Stella McCray & Tom Kvanvig
While challenged by our usual spring winds, last week’s events at 24AZ will be remembered by participating pilots and their families for some time. Pleasant Valley, A.K.A. Young International, is located on the Tonto National Forest a few miles southeast of Payson. The area is famous for the feud involving the Tewksbury and Graham families, and the little town of Young is steeped in this history. Our fly in campouts and events here are always made special by the local community members who even bring cars out for our use in getting back and forth from town over these weekend events. Local Chuck Freegard has been part of this crowd with his old Scout providing many memories for us. Chuck has also been gracious enough to be sure to haul another local resident’s (Barry Dille’s) port-a-john out to the airstrip for us. Barry also comes out on occasion to provide us with fireside guitar and singing, what a treat that is!
This year’s spring fly in really took the cake thanks to locals, Vern and Kathy Voorst’s, efforts in arranging a full Saturday of activities for the pilots and their families in attendance. This even included rounding up transportation for the more than twenty pilots, friends, and family that attended! This was no small task as Vern and other locals learned the hard way how fickle we pilots can be, thanks to the ever present challenge of spring weather and for this year the sudden rescheduling from our initial date to last weekend thanks to a severe low pressure passing through the state earlier in the month. Even the new date was challenged by high winds on Friday, forcing most pilots to arrive on Saturday morning.
This drove our breakfast time too late in the morning for James Bruzzi, owner of the Bruzzi Vineyard and Winery, to fulfill his plan to provide a breakfast at the winery since his wine tasting room had to be open by noon. Thankfully Scott and Pam, owners of the Antlers Restaurant, jumped into action and, with almost no notice, managed to open early to serve the entire gang what could only be described as a five star breakfast!
From there it was off to the town’s small museum where much was learned about Pleasant Valley’s history and the famous feud that lasted for a decade, ending the lives of more than any other civilian conflict in American history. In fact, nearly every male member of both the Grahams and Tewksburys were killed. Right out back of the museum, a building that was once the town church, is the cemetery where many of the Grahams were buried.
By 1:30 it was off to the Q-Ranch and Pueblo by way of a roughly 30 minute drive over a sometimes rough road, where owner Johnathan Rogers awaited to show off this incredibly historic site where both ancient pueblo culture and 19th century ranching met. I should point out that Johnathan made a trip up from the Valley just to accommodate us! Along with Johnathan was a very knowledgeable archaeologist who helped the group interpret various aspects of the ancient ruins located at the site. In 1893, Col. Jesse Ellison started a cattle ranch on the site and his wife’s brand, the letter Q, gave the ranch its name. Hand cut log buildings from the 1890s are still on site, but the real thrill was indeed seeing the very large ancient Indian ruins on the property. This site contained a 220-room, apartment-like dwelling of sandstone masonry—the third largest of its kind—known as the Q Ranch Pueblo, dating from 900-1400 AD.
Today the ranch serves as, among other things, a Bed & Breakfast, and one that I think several of the attendees might take advantage of in the future.
We hope that Mr. Rogers might allow us back at our annual Labor Day Weekend fly in at Young, so mark your calendars!