The Southwest has plenty of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. But, in the central Arizona town of Camp Verde, a streetscape defined by a set of trees has also made the list.
They’re pecan trees, planted in 1927 by Eva Haydon, daughter-in-law of the land owner at the time. The trees line a stretch of the Montezuma Castle Highway, what locals call ‘Pecan Lane.’ They were the first of many planted in the area.
Pecan trees are native to the lower Mississippi Valley. What Haydon discovered is that Camp Verde provides three things they need: a growing season with plenty of sunshine, good soil and a reliable source of water. Pecan trees typically need 60 inches of water each year to produce quality nuts.
Camp Verde’s modern pecan pioneer is Dr. Richard Tinlin. He established his Summer Place farm along the Verde River more than 40 years ago. Tinlin learned which pecan varieties can tolerate a dry climate and relatively high elevation. Now, he’s got more than 300 mature pecan trees. Depending on the weather, Tinlin floods them from an irrigation ditch about every two weeks.
Tinlin is one of three big pecan farmers in Camp Verde; the largest has 40 acres of trees. Together, the town’s large and small orchards can produce up to 300,000 pounds of pecans each year. Most are sent to a pecan company in southern Arizona for distribution, while others are sold in local farmers markets and CSAs – a sweet, nutty taste of central Arizona history.