The Sawmill Run Restaurant is named in honor of two sawmills that once existed on this very location.
The original sawmill on this site dates back almost a hundred years. Jim Westfall, the first forest ranger on Mount Lemmon, later began to build cabins on the mountain for the Summerhaven Land and Improvement Company. He found an old sawmill once used in mining operations on the north side of the Catalina Mountains, and in the winter of 1915-16 he hauled it up to Summerhaven. With his wife Leeta working along side of him, they milled lumber and built cabins in Soldier’s Camp as well as the Neoli Lodge and La Mariposa Hotel in Summerhaven.
Leeta became the manager of the hotel. A good cook, she provided meals for her guests and wanted to serve alcoholic beverages as well. Since this was during Prohibition, she and Jim installed a secret still above the hotel that turned out moonshine whiskey, beer, and mountain elderberry wine. To protect herself and the still, Leeta kept her 30-30 rifle loaded and might also have a small derringer wrapped in her long hair. She dismantled the still when Prohibition was repealed. Though the first sawmill lasted for several years, it too eventually disappeared.
Tony Zimmerman brought the second sawmill to Summerhaven. A teacher at Safford Junior High in Tucson, he fell in love with Mount Lemmon when he went deer hunting with his school principal in 1937, and often hiked there on weekends.
In Summerhaven he sometimes chatted with R. B. O’Neill on the porch of his two-room general store. O’Neill decided to retire and one day in 1940 offered to sell Zimmerman the Sawmill Tract, named for the original Westfall sawmill. This parcel included the general store and four rental cabins.
In Zimmerman’s opinion the Sawmill Tract, seen first by visitors as they drove down the hill into Summerhaven, was the most valuable business property on the mountain. He promptly bought it. In 1943 he retired from teaching and purchased a used Corely No. 4 Sawmill, also setting it up on the site of this restaurant. He milled lumber to build a new store and eventually the adjoining Mount Lemmon Inn across the road from this restaurant. Both store and inn burned down in 1977. The present day Mount Lemmon Community Center stands on that site.
The Sawmill Run Restaurant and the Community Center remind us of the history of Mount Lemmon in which Tony Zimmerman played an essential role.
Mon-Thurs 1030 ~4
Reservations~520 576 9147
Please check back often, as our hours change with the Seasons!
For road conditions please call the Pima County hotline at 520 547 7510