Catalina Island News

Zane Grey and his Catalina Island Pueblo

Zane Grey Pueblo

Zane Grey, the famous author of Western novels, baseball stories, boys' adventure stories, and fishing books was born Pearl Zane Grey in Zanesville, Ohio in 1872. He wrote some 89 books. His Father, Lewis M. Grey, destroyed the first story Zane wrote as a boy.

Zane accepted a scholarship at University of Pennsylvania studying dentistry and playing baseball. After graduation, a few years of confinement in a dental office convinced the athletic young dreamer he would prefer the life of writing. His wife, Lina Roth Grey, encouraged his dream. His robust, romantic stories made him the foremost writer on the American West for two generations of readers. A third generation enjoyed his stories on the television series, Zane Grey Theater.

His first Novel, Betty Zane, persuaded Buffalo Jones, plainsman, to invite Zane to accompany him to Arizona to write an account of his trip. The trip was the beginning of Zane's love affair with the desert and millions of pages of stories. A cabin on Mogollon Rim in Arizona was the scene of many hours of writing early stories. The cabin in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona where he wrote Call of the Canyon, is now restored. A cabin was built in Winkle Bar, Oregon. A home in Lackawaxen, Pa., is now an inn. In 1920 he moved his family to Altedena, California.

The Pueblo, built in 1926 by Zane Grey, was an ideal location for his literary labors. This is told in his own words from What the Open Means to Me in notations about Catalina Island..."I used to climb the mountain trail that overlooked the Pacific and here a thousand times I shut my eyes and gave myself over to sensorial perceptions. When I grasped the thing, always I felt it followed by a swift joy. Then I knew I had found the secret of the idle hours. Profound thought reduced this state to a mere listening, watching, feeling, smelling of the open. It assumed staggering proportions, for I began to feel that I had gotten on the track of the desert influence...It is an environment that means enchantment to me. Sea and Mountain! Breeze and roar of Surf! Music of Birds! Solitude and Tranquility! A place for rest, dream, peace, sleep. I could write here and be at peace..." Zane Grey spent most of his later life in Avalon writing and fishing.

The home in Avalon, now the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel, had a long hall dividing the bedrooms overlooking the ocean and those overlooking the hills. A large living and dining room was graced by a fireplace with a log mantle, open beam ceilings, a hewn plank door, and an oak dining table with heavy benches. The teak beams were brought from Tahiti aboard Fisherman on one of his fishing trips. Workmen from the time of construction reported that goat's milk was added to the mortar. Later workmen who replaced some small windows with picture windows attested to the strength of the walls. An upright piano was hewn by workmen to please the Greys. A dirt patio separated the Zane Grey home and that of his brother, Romer C. Grey. There is now a lovely pool in that area.

Zane Grey fished the waters of Florida, Nova Scotia, Cuba, Mexico, California, The Galapagos, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. In Tales of Swordfish and Tuna, on of the many books written at the Pueblo, he recorded his adventure of the world record broadbill caught off Catalina..."I fought and beat this broadbill in five hours. While the Gladiator raced homeward over a purple sunset sea, I sat on deck, gazing at my prize and then aloft at the streaming white flag with its red swordfish. After ten years of fishing for this swordfish, that surely was a ride. He weighed 582, and that was enough for me. I sent him to be placed in my collection of fishes in the Museum of Natural History in New York. Perhaps in years to come, I will go there and look at him, to recall in wonder what I went through to capture him. And I will recall what I have often said and written. To catch a fish is not all of fishing."