Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The making of Guns of Ponderosa -- Part I

McNary, Arizona, was a sawmill town. Although it actually sprang up as a mill town around the turn of the 20th century, one day I saw it as it might have been in the 1880s. A mist of rain fell, and five men rode into town in ankle-length slickers and turned-down Stetson hats. I saw the Cahill gang coming down main street and I knew they had come to take over the town. I couldn’t call it McNary, because it would not have existed. So I named my town Ponderosa, after the big Ponderosa pines that furnished planks for so many houses in the White Mountains and throughout the United States.

I wrote that scene first. I had no idea where the novel was going, but I knew the Cahills had come to town.

The Ponderosas grew thick and large, as you can see by the photo. This was probably in the 1950s.

The roads were mostly covered with cinders, as the area has many cinder cones that were easily mined for the wherewithal to keep the roads manageable. This photo would be much like the so-called Mormon Mail Road that went between Fort Apache and Saint Johns. In fact, most of the roads in and out of my fictional Ponderosa would have looked about like this. Not much like a John Ford movie, eh?

More about the making of Guns of Ponderosa in Part II. Coming soon.


  1. Interesting to see the construction of a novel and the inspriration for the background. I've already ordered a copy of the book.

  2. Thank you Ray. I hope to shed more light on the process as I go along.

  3. Hey Charles,, I have about finished the Guns of Ponderosa and have found it an exciting novel. Nice to recognize all the places you write about and even some of the figures. I was born at the hands of Doctor Heywood in Snowflake and visited most of the places you write about and have you. Nice to have an old schoolmate with such talent. Keep writing and my best to you and the family.

  4. Sir, I am looking for Pics of Mc Nary's logging history. Where did you find yours?

    thank you