In its lifetime it’s been from Lower Eagle Creek, to Safford, to Apache Junction, then all the way up to Washington state, but an antique stove from the long-shuttered Lower Eagle Creek School has finally made it back to Greenlee County.
Now housed at the Greenlee County Historical Society in Clifton, the wooden stove used to be a part of the Lower Eagle Creek School in Greenlee County. According to the Greenlee County Tourism Council, Eagle was a favorite homesteading site during the second half of the 1800s and Geronimo pleaded with military authorities to allow him to live out his remaining days along the Lower Eagle Creek.
Tammie McWhinney, the president of the Greenlee County Historical Society, said there’s not much historical information about the school so she’s not sure how old the stove might be, but it is definitely an antique.
In 1989, Apache Junction resident Barbara Walker was driving back from Silver City, New Mexico when she stopped at a yard sale at a trailer park in Safford and an old, beat up, rusty, 400-pound antique stove caught her eye.
“I collect stuff eclectically,” Walker said. ”I just felt like I had some kind of kinship to the and the town. I just had to have it.”
Walker said her father and brothers were part-time miners in and around Bisbee and because of that, she’s always been interested in mining and mining towns. The stove felt like a part of that connection. Walker doesn’t remember who she bought the stove from, or if they said anything more about the stove other than that it was from the school.The person who sold it to her drove it up to Mesa, where she picked it up and brought it to her home in Apache Junction, Walker said. She got it refurbished and cleaned up and then used it as a decorative piece in her home. In 2012 Walker moved to Washington state and brought the stove with her. In Washington, the stove sat in her garage for nine years. This year, Walker said she began to feel like it was time to return the stove to Greenlee County. A chance visit by a friend from Arizona, who agreed to drive the stove down from Washington to Arizona, allowed her to do just that. The first person Walker contacted to return the stove was Bryan Boling, Greenlee County’s superintendent of Schools.Boling’s enthusiasm and excitement about the stove made her very happy to know that somebody cared about it as much as she does.Boling contacted the Greenlee County Historical Society where the stove is now.Walker’s hope is kids from around Greenlee County will get to see the stove and learn more about the history of the county. Although she’s far away in the Pacific Northwest, Walker said she still plans to come down to Greenlee County and visit the stove in its home county when she can.