Yuma County, Arizona History
This county is formed out of the southwestern portion of the Territory,
and is bounded on the west by the Colorado river. The valley of the
Colorado is from two to ten miles in width; the soil is rich alluvial, and
is generally covered with a dense growth of vegetation, and is well wooded
with Mesquite and Cottonwood trees. Very little attempt has been made to
cultivate these lands, except by the Indians. They in a rude way produce
some vegetables, corn and wheat.
The soil and climate are undoubtedly well adapted to the production of cotton, rice and sugar cane, as well as the cereals, and nearly all kinds of vegetables. Experiments made in planting figs, lemons and oranges encourage the belief that these fruits can be raised in abundance.
The only obstacle in the way of extensive and profitable agriculture in the valley of this river is the frequent changes of its channel. Its waters can undoubtedly be controlled by levees and canals, and it would be policy for the government to make liberal grants of land to accomplish this object. The water once under control, and this would be an inviting field for investment and enterprise.
The Gila river runs about 150 miles in a westerly course through this county; its valley is from one to three miles in width; the soil is rich and covered with vegetation, and by irrigation will produce almost anything that grows; it is uninhabited, except by station keepers along the overland mail road. These stations are usually located about fifteen miles apart.
The balance of this county is mostly high table lands, with frequent broken mountains, and is generally destitute of water; portions of the year these lauds are covered with excellent grass, but until water is increased by sinking wells, the larger portion of this belt of country will be of little value.
MINES - Gold, silver, copper and lead, are found in lodes near the Colorado river, the entire length of the county; also placer gold in considerable sums has been extracted. No effort has been made to conduct water to these mines; the gold has generally been obtained by what is called the dry washing process. To pay by this process, the mines must necessarily be very rich, but if water could be obtained, they 'would undoubtedly pay well, even when once worked by the other process.
Many lodes of gold, silver, copper and lead have been located, and quite a profitable business engaged in by shipping the ores via the Colorado river to San Francisco. The success of these enterprises would warrant the belief that by the erection of machinery and properly opening the mines, they could be made very profitable to the owners. Along the southern border of the county, extensive and rich mines of copper are found, but owing to the high rate of transportation have not yet been made to pay.
TRADE AND COMMERCE. - Most of the goods consumed on and near the Colorado river, and in Southern Arizona, are shipped from San Francisco in vessels down the Pacific ocean, around Cape St. Lucas into the Gulf of California, thence to the mouth of the Colorado river; at this point, the goods are reshipped and placed on barges, and towed up the river by small steamers. Until recently, the trade has been carried on with sailing. vessels from San Francisco to the mouth of the river, but, the mercantile community requiring more speedy delivery of goods, a steamer has been placed on the line, and it makes a monthly trip between those points. It requires about ten days to make the trip either way, and the charge for freight to Arizona City is $47 per ton.
Towns - Arizona City is located at the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers; is the county seat of the county, and contains a population of about 1200; one-third American and twothirds Mexican. It is the principal military depot of supplies for the troops of Southern Arizona, and the goods shipped to merchants in Southern Arizona are landed at this point. It contains several large mercantile houses, one wagon and several blacksmith shops, and a weekly newspaper called Tice Arizona Free Press. The houses are mostly built of adobes, and it has the appearance of a Mexican town. It is a prosperous business place, and, from its geographical position, will undoubtedly continue to grow with the development of the country. It contains but one church (Catholic), and schools have only been maintained at intervals by subscription-but preparations are being made that will undoubtedly insure a good, free school the most of each year.
Eherenburg is located by the river 140 miles above Arizona City on the Colorado; contains a population of about 500, and is the principal shipping point for Central Arizona. It has been built within the past two years, and was the rival of La Paz, located five miles above, but the superior advantages for the delivery of goods at this landing, caused the rapid decline of La Paz, which is now nearly depopulated. It contains several large forwarding and commission houses, blacksmith and wagon shops, and in addition to the trade with Central Arizona, large amounts of goods are sold to supply the mines up the Colorado river.
CLIMATE AND HEALTH - The climate from June to October is extremely warm, the thermometer often showing in the shade from 115 deg. to 120 deg. of heat, but singular to say, probably- owing to the dryness of the atmosphere, there has never been known a case of sun stroke, and it is unusually healthy, being singularly free from malarious diseases, and invalids inflicted with bronchial or lung disease are always benefited, kid often cured, by a change to this climate. From October to June the climate is mild and salubrious, and hardly excelled anywhere.
Source: Resources Of Arizona Territory. Francis & Valentine, Steam Printers And Engravers. 1871.