Rim County historian Jayne Peace Pyle says that the actual construction of the road started in the spring of 1872. It was named General Crook’s Trail when it was built. By 1873, supplies began moving by pack train from Fort Verde to Fort Apache.
During the next 22 years, Crook Road was used by troops patrolling across the Arizona Territory and the northern boundary of the Apache Reservation.
Sometime around 1970, when the Arizona State Highway Department figured the trail was 100 years old, they tried renaming it the Zane Grey Highway. This failed because the folks here thought the Zane Grey connection was pretty loose—he was only here three months a year between 1918-29 (and he missed some of those years entirely).
During that time, the Arizona Historical Society wanted to name Highway 260 the General Crook Highway. But chambers of commerce along the route objected because they figured Crook was not a “known” figure like Zane Grey.
The battle over the names was not about history—it was about money. The contention was between history people and small-town economy people.
In the end, the Arizona State Highway Department named part of Highway 260 the Zane Grey Highway. Part of it is still the General Crook Trail. Most folks refer to it as “the 260.”
This whole ordeal is discussed in Duane A. Hinshaw’s book, General Crook Road in Arizona Territory.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org