(Katherine’s Landing)

by Edie Faver Gearhart
Davis Dam, completed in 1951, created Lake Mohave on the Colorado River.  Lake Mohave came to be the place my grandpa Fred Faver pursued his vision of building a fishing camp.  

Grandpa, born in 1890, left his home state of Missouri at the age of 17, and headed west.  He eventually settled down as a farmer in Buckeye, Arizona.  He was a person who loved to hunt and fish and had many friends he enjoyed fishing with. In 1947, he was appointed Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner by Governor Sidney Preston Osborn. This was a position Grandpa loved so much he accepted only $1 a year to serve. He continued in office until 1960.

Fred Faver by Lake Mohave sign, circa 1960.

During this time, he began to look for a location where he could establish a fishing camp for men to bring their families. At Lake Mohave, he found Katherine’s Landing, which was a wide, flat wash, accessible only by the rocky 17-mile road from Katherine’s Mine to the river. He went to the Park Service in Boulder, Nevada, to get permission to build a resort and was instructed to go to the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, DC.  While in DC, in December 1950, he obtained concession rights for the enterprise to be known as Lake Mohave Resort.

At this time, he found two investors, Dave Kimball of Phoenix and Chet Fuller of Litchfield Park to join him in financing the project. Lake Mohave Resort, Inc., a corporation, was formed, of which Grandpa was the president. He always retained 51% of the shares. With Grandpa’s leadership, the plans to develop this area began. In the future, more investors joined in. Two of these additional investors were Glen Taylor and Elwood Phillips.

The next step was to have someone in the family move there to put the plans into action. It was decided that Grandpa’s oldest son, my dad, Buster, would take charge. So, in 1952, Dad took his wife Marilyn, my mama; his sons, Art, 12, and Norman, 11; and me, his daughter, Edie, 2, to live in the raw desert where the resort would be developed. We lived in an army tent just as my grandparents had done when they were on the Beardsley Project. In time my Uncle Buddy brought a borrowed travel trailer for Dad, Mama, and me to sleep in. The boys continued to sleep in the big army tent for a long time.

The only man-made thing that was there when our family arrived at Katherine’s Landing was a very small government dock maintained by the National Park Service. The first priority was to get rental boats available. The dock was built and metal fishing boats were bought. Art and Norm were responsible for removing the boat motors, cleaning them, and storing them in the lock box on the dock. Then they rolled the boats in the water to clean them, pulling them onto the dock at days end. The first school year, Mama drove the boys the 34 miles to and from Katherine’s Mine to meet a teacher named Mrs. Ship who provided transportation to school. Mrs. Ship picked them up at the mine and then returned them as she traveled each day between Kingman and old Bullhead, where she taught. That was a rough year for Mama, with four broken tires due to the rough road. Dad went to the Bullhead School Board and got permission for the school bus to pick the boys up at the dam the next year. That began a challenging time when Art, 13, and Norm, 12, would travel to the dam by boat. They would carry a heater, filled with volcanic rock from the tent to an aluminum boat, cover themselves with a tarp, and set off for the dam before dawn to catch the school bus. They often returned home after dark, braving white caps, wind, and uncertain weather during the trips. Dad and Mama would watch for the red hats the boys wore. My brother Norm told me they would go straight up the channel until they could see the lights at Katherine’s Landing, then they would turn toward the landing. What a stressful situation for all of them! As the boys got older, they would race up our new oiled road or hike over the mountain to catch the bus. Norm said they were in great shape for football! During their last years in high school, they drove themselves into Kingman.

The first dock of Lake Mohave Resort built 1952.

The first buildings put up at the resort site were the shop and boathouse, also known as the store. The jetty was also built during this earliest time. When the boys weren’t in school, hauling trash, or taking care of the boats, they worked on the jetty. They would drive to the Black Mountains east of the landing, load boulders, return and place them on the jetty. Between the jetty and the crevices was our swimming area. Dad was the boat repairman and schooled to repair Johnson motors. He also kept track of what boats were rented and where they went. He hunted for them when they did not return by nightfall. He often went alone with a flashlight, going as far as the power line to find the fishermen with boats that had broken down. Dad dove into the water for cars that got away from people backing down to get their boats in the water or for parts that got dropped. He slept on the dock to keep track of boats that might break loose in storms. He was there to meet and become acquainted with the customers who came to the landing. Dad believed in knowing the people he helped and doing all he could to make Lake Mohave Resort a friendly place to bring their families. As a result, many people returned year after year.

I don’t know the exact time that the oiled road was built to Katherine’s Landing, but it was such a big blessing. As the landing began to grow, Grandpa hired the football coach from Buckeye, our family’s home town, to be the general manager of the landing. That was Ham Pratt. His family was provided a lovely stone home in Kingman to live in while he stayed at the landing, going home once a week. When Mama and I went to town alone, we would visit the Pratt family.  There was an alcove in the home that had a whole library for children. I loved it! Ham also joined in as an investor in the company. It was like more family was added. All socialized together: the owners, the workers, and the customers.

The next building erected was the café in the middle of the area that has now been converted into rental rooms. Following the café were the single-story motel units, which Mama managed. She cleaned, took reservations, rented out, and ran that portion of the resort. Now we had a one-bedroom apartment with a very small, attached office. Dad and Mama slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room. Art and Norm had bunkbeds and I got a bed at the end of the bedroom. At last, we were warm and dry in the winter, with cool air in the hot times of the year!

Albert “Buster” and Marilyn Faver in 1955 in front of the café at Katherine’s Landing.

The trailer park was completed next. Grandpa Fred and Grandma Edith’s home had the best spot, to the right of the entrance facing the water. It was a wonderful place for the rest of the family to come visit. A building in the middle of the park had facilities for washing clothes, as well as restrooms and showers.

Bullhead builder Jim Hudgens and his crew at Hudgens Construction Company built the two-story motel units and enlarged the boathouse. He also built the comfort stations. Gene Thomas, an electrician at the dam who lived in Davis Camp, added the electricity to the motel.  Mama was responsible for these additional units too. However, before the new restaurant was built, my mother became so ill that Dad moved us away from the resort. We lived in two different houses in Davis Camp as well as in Sheriff Shorty Oswood’s farmhouse. She had surgeries in Las Vegas but failed to do any better. Dad continued to work at the resort until he moved us back to Buckeye in 1961 so Mama could be in the hospital in Phoenix. She only lived about four-and-a-half months after that. She was a pioneer in radiation treatment for cancer. It killed the cancer, but she died despite it. I longed to move back to my lake, but it was not to be.

Grandpa continued to supervise the resort and attend to the business matters. Ham was in charge of hiring all the help to run the resort. My “cousin/brother” Fred Faver, son of Uncle Buddy and Aunt Marie, worked a summer there during his junior year of college with the gas pumps, the store, and the boats. I call him my cousin/brother because I moved in with Uncle Buddy and Aunt Marie in 1961 when he went to college. So, we shared his parents.  I also spent a summer during college at the new reservation desk in the motel. Grandpa was appointed Director of the National Wildlife Commission in 1963, but later that year he died of cancer. Following Grandpa’s death, Dad represented the family in the business meetings that took place in Phoenix. In the early ’70s, the resort was sold to PlayMate Resorts, later named Seven Crowns Resorts, a corporation with other resort properties. Whatever was paid to our family went to Grandma, Dad, Uncle Buddy, and Aunt Flora. I was especially disappointed that our grandparents’ home in the trailer park was sold.

Lake Mohave Resort, early-mid 1950s.

Ham Pratt would have received the same payment the other investors received, but he continued working at Lake Mohave Resort the rest of his life. He built a nice house on a hill above the resort where he and his family could see the lake. Because our family, the Favers, were no longer working at the resort after the early 60s, many people think Ham was the person who began the enterprise. As Paul Harvey used to say: “Now you know the rest of the story!”

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Edie Faver Gearhart’s life changed dramatically after the family moved from Lake Mohave and her mother’s death in January 1962. With her brothers married, and her father, Buster, working in a house moving business that kept him away from home, she lived with her Uncle Buddy and Aunt Marie in Buckeye for seven years. Following high school, she attended Azusa Pacific College, Azusa, California, graduating in 1972. Edie then taught school at Light and Life Christian School in nearby Duarte. She also married Jerry Gearhart in 1972. They moved to New Mexico in 1976 to live near her brother Norman and his family. They have four grown sons, Jeff, Dave, Steve, and Mike. Edie and Jerry are now retired, living in Albuquerque.

 
Photo of Edie today
 

Lake Mohave Beginnings

The Buster Faver family is shown about the time they moved to Lake Mohave in 1952. Left to right are Marilyn holding Edie, Norman, Buster, and Art.