Under the Tonto Rim (The Bee Hunter) (1926)

11 Jun
View to the east from Cedar Ridge, Arizona;  Credit: Trung Q. Le

View to the east from Cedar Ridge, Arizona;
Credit: Trung Q. Le

Tonto Rim was first serialized under the name of The Bee Hunter in The Ladies’ Home Journal, February-May 1925. In 1926 Harper & Brothers, New York published it in book form.

“Grey introduced the state’s magnificence to thousands of his readers through his numerous novels set in Arizona, including: “Call of the Canyon,” “Under the Tonto Rim,” “The Rainbow Trail,” among many others. His descriptive books drew people to the state and yet now he was upset at their presence.  In 1923, the Flagstaff Coconino Sun newspaper had interviewed Grey, who encouraged Flagstaff to develop its tourist facilities. A follow-up interview four years later found Grey pleased with what Flagstaff was doing in regard to tourist accommodations. A few years after that, Grey wrote a letter to the editor saying there were now too many tourists and he wasn’t coming back.

Grey’s Tonto Basin cabin (more like a lodge) was built in 1920-21. True to his word, Grey never returned to it or Arizona, and by the 1950s, the cabin was falling into disrepair. It was purchased by a private party and restored, only to burn to ashes during the 1990 ‘Dude’ forest fire. A few items were salvaged and put on display at a Payson museum. Funds were raised to reconstruct the cabin in Payson’ Green Valley Park in 2003. Grey shunned Arizona due to the increasing tourists, yet the tourists still seek him and his legacy.” (I shall never come back to Arizona)

Bee hunting Missouri

Bee hunting Missouri

Tonto Rim is supposed to be a conservation and social commentary novel (ZGWS). As we see above, Zane Grey was not pleased with all of the effects of  his environmental engagement. But today National Parks can be found Zane Grey’s three favorite states: Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Tonto Rim might also be said to be a comment on what the East defined as politically correct.

When young Lucy Watson leaves home she feels there isn’t anything holding her there. Her younger sister Clara had done a shameful thing in eloping with a cowboy and Lucy wanted away from the stigma of being the daughter of a saloon keeper.

Lucy realized that actually to experience loneliness, to be really cut off from family and friends, was vastly different from the thought of it. She had deliberately severed all ties. She was alone in the world, with her way to make. A terrible blank sense of uncertainty assailed her. Independence was wholly desirable, but in its first stage it seemed hard.

Four Peaks - Arizona - EJ PhotoBefore the time of telephones and air flight distances were more acutely felt, something we rediscover when we visit places where people depend on their feet or some form of animal for transportation.

Lucy has very strong opinions about her sister’s elopement and states that she will NEVER, EVER, EVER marry someone as uncouth as a cowboy or bee-hunter or white-mule drinker (distilling alcohol). Yummy, yummy – she had better hope that her words taste well. Her opinions about what entails a proper way of life will be challenged. She both educates and is educated.

These backwoodsmen are not Bluebeards (serial killers of spouses) or Mormons, though they are strong on gettin’ wives. They are a clean, hardy, pioneer people. Edd Denmeade, for instance now—he’s a young man the like of which you won’t see often. He’s a queer fellow—a bee hunter, wonderful good to look at, wild like them woods he lives in, but a cleaner, finer boy I never knew. He loves his sisters. He gives his mother every dollar he earns, which, Lord knows, isn’t many….

Dance at the Myrtle SchoolhouseEverything is not about work and education. There is also time for play – or courting. The area sets out to show Lucy that they are worth sticking with and she does her best to fit in and try to understand the people of Cedar Ridge.

Lucy discovers that not all cowboys, bee-hunters and moonshiners are as she had thought. And who turns up during the story? Well, you are welcome to find out.


Under The Tonto Rim on Gutenberg









Efficient Hunting of Feral Colonies

Free Dictionary

Hunting Wild Honey

I shall never come back to Arizona

Arkansas Arthropods in History and Folklore: Honey Bees

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Posted by on 2014-06-11 in Books


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