|A sprayer and the Brown house in 1984|
The speaker for our February meeting was Kathy Pendley Shaw. Kathy is the granddaughter of Frank Pendley who first homesteaded 58 acres of land in Oak Creek Canyon's Slide Rock. The Slide Rock Park today has more than 250,00 visitors each year. Many of the original buildings and trees (Arkansas Black Heritage Tree) remain there and are cared for by volunteers. He planted 13 varieties of apples, and raised 9 children. When he retired Kathy's father Tom continued to care for the trees each summer. The park now has 16 varieties of apples, peaches, apricots, and pears. Kathy continues to volunteer by caring for the trees with the Friends of Slide Rock. Their next volunteer day for pruning is on Feb. 25th from 9am-12pm. Contact Kathy if you want more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
From the park web site:
This history is from the book Arizona State Parks: The Beginning Edited by Charles R. Eatherly. Filled with fascinating histories and stories, this spiral bound book is available from our Gift Catalog. Your purchase will directly support Arizona State Parks. http://azstateparks.com/Parks/SLRO/history.html
Frank Pendley homesteaded the land immediately south of Slide Rock in the early 1900’s and developed a large apple orchard along with vegetable crops. Tom Pendley, his son, continued to operate and manage the property, and in the 1980’s it was one of the largest parcels of land in Oak Creek Canyon in private ownership. In 1982, the family decided it was time to sell the property. When Governor Babbitt learned of this, he contacted the family to see about acquiring the property as a State Park. The Governor grew up in Flagstaff, had visited Slide Rock many times, and was well acquainted with the Pendley family. Tom Pendley told the Governor that he was reluctant to sell the land to a governmental entity because of the difficulties he had experienced in dealing with the Forest Service. At the same time Governor Babbitt was talking with the family, William G. Roe from the Nature Conservancy was corresponding with State Parks Director Mike Ramnes, to let him know the property adjacent to Slide Rock was for sale.
In 1983, Governor Babbitt created the Arizona Parklands Foundation and appointed members comprised of business, political and community leaders. In creating this Foundation, the Governor was implementing one of the recommendations that had come from the Governor’s Task Force on Parks and Recreation in Arizona, a special task force the Governor had appointed the year before. The Foundation was a non-profit corporation charged with acquiring property and receiving gifts for State Parks. All land the Foundation acquired would be donated to Arizona State Parks. Working with the Parks Board, a list of desirable properties for future State Parks was developed, including the Pendley property. After two years of negotiations, an agreement was reached with the Pendley family for sale of the property. This was the first property acquired by the Foundation.
Now the Foundation had to come up with the necessary funding to complete the transaction. The Governor assisted the Foundation in working with four major banks to secure a loan to acquire the property. The banks that agreed to loan the $4,000,000 were The Valley National Bank, First InterState Bank, Arizona Bank, and United Bank of Arizona. Shortly after the loan was secured, the Foundation purchased the Pendley property on February 7, 1985, for $3,600,000.
The Foundation soon learned they were not going to get the anticipated donations to support the acquisition of the Pendley property. The Foundation, Arizona State Parks Board, and the Governor, working in concert, requested that the legislature provide funding for the acquisition.