Going Down in History with Marshall Trimble
Writer Amanda Christmann Larson
Photographer Bryan Black
In Arizona, you don’t have to go far to find interesting history, dynamic personalities and a whole lot of fun. Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or have been here a while, it’s never too late to connect with new friends and uncover tales of our not-so-distant past. Now you can do both with one of our state’s most loved personalities.
Official Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble, whose wit is matched only by his love for legend and lore of Arizona’s early ranching and mining pioneers, will be kicking off Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House’s annual Arizona History Dinners May 14. He’ll also be breaking the ice May 22 at the Newcomers Club of Scottsdale luncheon.
This multi-talented “Ask the Marshall” columnist and humorist has staked his claim in the Phoenix metro area for over 40 years. He spent his early childhood in the tiny Route 66 hamlet of Ash Fork before first the railroad, then Interstate 40, bypassed the town and forced his family to move to Phoenix. In his awkward teen years at the time, he experienced the added pressure of moving from a high school with 30 students to West Phoenix High School with an enrollment of 3,000.
“It took me years to get past the shock,” he now says. “Among other things, I was scared to death talking to girls. I used to write things down on my hand – conversation pieces I thought they might like.”
Trimble has gotten over his shyness, and remarkably so. His own story is full of interesting anecdotes: tales of traveling, cowpoking, singing and teaching Arizona history, guitar in-hand. His teaching continues today through public speaking at Scottsdale Community College and beyond, and his tenure has spanned through some of our most tumultuous decades, from Vietnam, to 9/11, to today. He has provided a national identity and source of pride during times when we, as Americans, have most needed to know who we are and where we came from.
May 14, he’ll share the story of the Cartwright family, a first family of Phoenix whose legacy continues throughout the Valley. It was the Cartwrights who charted a path from Illinois to California to the then-isolated wilds of the Phoenix desert. They started one of the first local schools near Maryvale in the late 1800s. In 1921, their school, the Cartwright School, joined another school to form the Cartwright School District, which still remains today.
In 1887, the Cartwrights hauled their family belongings through saguaros and manzanitas to the head of Cave Creek, where patriarch Reddick “Red” Cartwright started a cattle farm. His dreams were big, and an area demand for beef was bigger. Fueled by hunger from a growing number of miners and military men, the CC (Cartwright Cattle) Ranch grew to become one of the largest cattle ranches in the Southwest, and it remained in the family for over three generations.
Trimble, whose charming lilt and perfectly placed puns make any tale terrific, will share the story of the Cartwrights at their namesake restaurant in Cave Creek, Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House, where the newly remodeled dining room with repurposed railroad car tables, gently lit fireside manzanita branches and remarkable menu pay perfect homage to the Cartwright legacy. This year’s inaugural event kicks off with a five-hour horseback ride through the historic Cartwright property, hosted by MTM Ranch, the oldest horseback riding stables in Cave Creek. The ride begins at 6 a.m.; registration for the ride is $195 per person. Register by phone through MTM Ranch.
At 5 p.m., the fun will continue in the award-winning Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House Ranch Room with no-host cocktails. Three courses of signature modern ranch cuisine will be specially prepared from scratch by top-ranking chef Montez Crane and talented pastry chef Amanda Crick to correspond with the theme of the evening, including a treasure-filled baby gem lettuce and mizuna greens salad with locally harvested ocotillo blossoms and wildflower honey vinaigrette, mesquite wood-grilled bison strip loin, pickled cholla buds and Mexican chocolate praline mousse cake, to name a few of the delights. Afterward, Trimble will weave his words, sing songs and spin yarns about days of old and lives of one of our most memorable families in Arizona’s Sonoran foothills.
Cost of the evening event, including Trimble’s presentation, live music and three-course dinner, plus sales tax and gratuity, is $55 per person. Reservations are required and are available by phone.
Trimble will make another appearance at the Newcomers of Scottsdale’s May luncheon. The club is a non-profit social organization for people who have recently moved to the Phoenix metropolitan area, have experienced a change in life situation, or who simply want to make new friends and get to know the community.
Since 1968, the Newcomers Club of Scottsdale has been promoting friendships for residents, non-residents, and part-time residents through a variety of social activities, including daytime and evening events and interest groups for both women and men.
Trimble’s presentation, sure to inspire smiles and memorable moments, begins at 11 a.m. at Orange Tree Golf Resort, 10601 N. 56th St. in Scottsdale. Cost is $25, and reservations are available by phone.
So whether you’ve just begun to dig in to all the area has to offer, or if you’ve planted your roots firmly in the desert soil, you won’t want to miss the history and histrionics of one of our most cherished characters, Marshall Trimble. Pull up a chair and sit a spell.
Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House
6710 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek
Newcomers Club of Scottsdale