20 Cities in 20 Days: Morrison Ranch family hoping to preserve history in Gilbert

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We traveled to the heart of Gilbert for our 20 cities in 20 days tour, where there are big things happening when it comes to the changing landscape. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) We traveled to the heart of Gilbert for our 20 cities in 20 days tour, where there are big things happening when it comes to the changing landscape. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
These days, "Restaurant Row" is the big attraction in Gilbert. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) These days, "Restaurant Row" is the big attraction in Gilbert. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Downtown Gilbert had quite a different look back in the 1940s when the town was still just a small farming community that would eventually blossom into what it is today. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Downtown Gilbert had quite a different look back in the 1940s when the town was still just a small farming community that would eventually blossom into what it is today. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A fence is now up around these massive and very visible grain silos off of Higley Road, known as the tanks, in preparation for what's to come. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A fence is now up around these massive and very visible grain silos off of Higley Road, known as the tanks, in preparation for what's to come. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

We traveled to the heart of Gilbert for our 20 cities in 20 days tour, where there are big things happening when it comes to the changing landscape.

These days, "Restaurant Row" is the big attraction in Gilbert.

People come from far and wide to dine here.

But it hasn't always looked like this.

Downtown Gilbert had quite a different look back in the 1940s when the town was still just a small farming community that would eventually blossom into what it is today.

[SLIDESHOW: Out and about in Gilbert]

"We look back on this story five years from now, we're going to be standing in someone's living room possibly," said Preston Phillips.

"Possibly," responded Julie Murphree with the Arizona Farm Bureau.

We were talking with Murphree about the cornfields at Higley Road and Warner Road, just a few miles from downtown Gilbert, in the growing community of Morrison Ranch, a premier East Valley destination.

Richard Morrison tells CBS 5, he's focused now on preserving what's left of his family's farming history.

"I have brothers who participated in the visioning of this project and for them, it's a tremendous point of pride. But it's painful for me, personally, to realize that we have covered the history of everything that happened here," said Morrison.

A fence is now up around these massive and very visible grain silos off of Higley Road, known as the tanks, in preparation for what's to come.

"We want it to be a part of Gilbert's history, want those who have lived here forever to be able to come here and remember what it was like when this was a 25-hundred acre farm," said Morrison.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Wake Up Arizona's 20 Cities in 20 Days]

Bulldozers can now be seen grading the land, where just days ago, corn fields stood high.

Morison says this land has been sold and will soon include an extended green belt and some commercial development, and to the east, more homes will be built.

"It's safe to say everything behind you is going to be commercial or residential at some point and the cornfields aren't going to be there?" asked Phillips.

"Except for some open space we're going to preserve around the tanks, it'll be the historic center," Morrison responded.

For Morrison, it's all about preserving this area's rich farming history, so that when people flock to places like this, they don't forget about what this town used to be all about.

"It hurts me that we've sort of covered up the history. Any effort that is made to tell the story or preserve the history heartens my spirit," said Morrison.

Morrison tells CBS 5, his family didn't have to sell the land off Higley Road and Warner Road, where the cornfields are, but says it came down to a couple things.

One, they couldn't farm like they used to, and two, the safety of farmers and the equipment, adding they can't safely move due to congested roads.

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