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1890 Arizona

Below are excerpts from Arizona, The Land of Sunshine and Silver, Health and Prosperity, the Place for Ideal Homes, by John A Black, published in 1890.

Page 47

The possibilities of agricultural development in Yuma County have been demonstrated at the ranch of H. W. Blaisdell, about eight miles east of Yuma. Mr. Blaisdell upon a bare piece of "desert" land has for a number of years been engaged in the cultivation of hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs with special reference to their adaptability to the locality, and has so improved a thirty-acre tract as to make it one of the sights of Yuma. Irrigating water is furnished in abundance by a well, fitted with a centrifugal pump of a capacity of about forty miner's inches flow. One of the four Agricultural Department experimental stations has here been established, and under the superintendency of Professor Gulley, of the University of Arizona, valuable results may be expected from the critical observation of the details of vegetable growth.

Page 49 – MINING.

The first mining operations ever conducted in Yuma County were by Colonel Snively on some placers located on the Gila river, about twenty miles from its mouth, in 1858. These are now being re-worked. Excellent placers were found at La Paz, on the Colorado, four years later, and in many of the washes gold digging has been prosecuted with success for many years, during the rainy season. Several millions of dollars have been extracted from the auriferous sands of the County, and the industry is still flourishing. Should any of the many "dry washers" prove effective, there is no portion of the world where their use would become so general and profitable as in Southwestern Arizona.

The major portion of the great expanse of Yuma County, occupying the triangular space between the Colorado and Gila rivers, is occupied by rough, parched and barren mountain ranges, generally of but inconsiderable heighth. They are unique for the most part in the fact that they rise abruptly, without foothills, from the level plain and have no connection with any other similar elevations. They are buttes, rather than mountains or mountain chains.

As might be imagined, the difficulties of prospecting in these waterless hills are many, yet the research that has been made has disclosed many bodies of ore that will become valuable whenever reached by any adequate system of transportation.

The most important mining district is located in the northeastern part of the county, in the Haqua Hala mountains. In a recent issue of the Yuma Times the following excellent resume of operations in this district was given:

"The Haqua Hala mines were located on November 11, 1888, by Harry Walton, Robert Stein and Mike Sullivan. C. H. Gray bought Sullivan's interest, Walton sold to R. F. Kirkland and Tom Cochran, and Stein sold his interest to A. G. Hubbard. Two or three other parties acquired interests. About a year ago one Horne jumped the Golden Eagle claim, since which time thousands of dollars have been spent in lawsuits. The principal claims are in two camps, Harrisburg and Bonanza. They are all free-milling gold quartz, and run from $5 to $500 to the ton. It is said that Horne took out of one small hole in the Golden Eagle claim $5000 in a short time. About two months ago A. G. Hubbard and George W. Bowers bought the interest of C. H. Gray in the Bonanza group for $50,000 cash. The interests of several others were acquired at the same time. Litigation ended and the district took a new lease of prosperity. A twenty-stamp mill was at once contracted for together with the necessary pipe to supply water from a point six miles distant. The mill will be constructed so that forty stamps can be put in if necessary. In addition to the mill will be two hoisting plants capable of working 1000 feet depth. The deepest working at present is 200 feet. The present owners have taken out about $80,000, and the completion of their mill, water works, road making and purchase of claims will involve an expenditure of $275,000. It is believed the cost of mining and milling will be about $3 per ton.

"Harrisburg has a postoffice and several stores. A ten-stamp mill is also located here, which does custom work. The water works supply the needs of both camps. Harris & Bates and Major Clay are among the principal owners. The point of supply for this district has heretofore been Phoenix, but as the distance from Aztec, Yuma County, is only about fifty miles, as against one hundred from Phoenix, supplies are now going that way. The Yuma Supervisors recently authorized some money to be spent in improving the road between Aztec and Haqua Hala and the mine owners also contributed enough so that the road could be put in good condition. There are now employed in this district over one hundred men, which number will soon be increased. Those interested in Haqua Hala have great faith in its future."

South of Haqua Hala is Centennial District, containing many excellent properties, mostly of free-milling gold ore. Water and wood are easily to be had, and an early development is probable.

Up the Colorado river are a number of mineral deposits of large extent, the best developed being in Silver District, about forty miles north of Yuma. The ores are silver and lead, and somewhat refractory. There is one mill in the district, but it is idle, the ores being brought to Yuma and shipped to a California smelter.

There is no mining boom on in any part of the County, but development is active in all parts. With the accession of an agricultural population along the rivers mining will not be neglected, but will contribute in a most appreciable degree to the prosperity of the County's residents.


There is but one considerable settlement, the County seat, Yuma, located below the junction of the Colorado and Gila, at the point where the Southern Pacific Railroad enters the Territory from California. It has now about 1200 inhabitants, mostly Americans, of an excellent class. From the issue of the Yuma Times of January 1st the following description of the town and its industries is taken:

"Owing to the high prices of lumber the principal building material is adobe (sun-dried bricks), which is well adapted for this climate, where little rain falls. With few exceptions the buildings are one-story, with thick walls and flat roofs, giving a somewhat oriental appearance. The court house is a large one-story adobe building constructed about thirteen years ago. The school district owns a fine, large lot, but the present building is too small, and will no doubt be replaced by a roomy brick building soon. The Catholic is the only church organization represented with a building, and has also a convent school conducted by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The Ancient Order of United Workmen is the only secret benevolent order having an organization, and it also owns a comfortable building containing a lodge hall.

"The Southern Pacific Railroad Company makes Yuma its division headquarters for this portion of its line. It has a large freight yard and keeps great quantities of road supplies, such as ties, rails, coal and ice. The company also owns the water-works, which supply its own needs and a good part of the town. A pumping plant on the bank of the river keeps a large reservoir filled, where the muddy water of the Colorado settles and becomes clear and sweet. The company has a twelve-stall round house, freight depot, cottages for employees, also a reading-room for employees, together with water tanks and a number of other buildings.

"The Arizona Territorial Penitentiary is located at Yuma and disburses between $50,000 and $60,000 a year in the town. This institution is located on high ground, having the Colorado on the north side and the Gila on the east. About three acres of ground have been leveled o f for the necessary buildings. The buildings are made of stone and adobe and are surrounded by a high, thick wall of the same materials. Outside the walls are the superintendent's residence, office, stables, etc. The prison has its own water-works and electric lights. The average number of prisoners is about 150. Blacksmith and machine shops, carpenter shop, tin shop, shoe shop, tailor shop and laundry, together with grading give employment to the men most of the time. Many of them have become very skillful in the manufacture of fine laces, canes and inlaid woodwork. A proposition is now on foot to employ prison labor in preparing wild hemp for market. This plant grows wild over thousands of acres south of Yuma and has a fibre superior to manilla.

"Yuma carries on considerable trade with the country to the northward by means of the steamers of the Colorado Steam Navigation Company. The business is carried on with two large steamers and a number of barges. Monthly trips are made as far north as El Dorado Canon, in the State of Nevada, 600 miles from Yuma. At Needles connection is made with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Steamers take provisions, mining machinery and various supplies to the different points and take away their bullion and ores. A voyage up the Colorado is a delightful recreation and can be recommended to those who are tired of the worn out lines of travel. The scenery is magnificent, and many places of interest can be seen.

"Yuma is a port of entry and a custom-house is maintained, though little business now passes through it.

"Nearly every branch of business is represented in Yuma. Everything in the necessary line can be obtained at reasonable prices, considering our remoteness from general markets."

There are two able weekly newspapers published. The Yuma Sentinel was the pioneer of such enterprises in Arizona, having been established in 1871. It is published by Hon. John Dorrington. The Yuma Times is a sprightly sheet that made its appearance a year ago, and appears to prosper under the management of the Yuma Publishing Company.

Ehrenburg, in the northwestern part, in early days was the ferrying point upon the Colorado river for the greater portion of the traffic of Northern and Central Arizona, but since the coming of the railroad, has lapsed into a small mining hamlet. The canal operations in the Gila Valley have caused the starting of a few stores at different points along the Southern Pacific, but they can as yet hardly be termed any more than stations.

A description of the county would not be complete without a reference to the Yuma Indians, who in sparse raiment form an important and picturesque feature of the landscape. They are as peaceable as a like number of whites, and, though not energetic, except when in chase of the fleeting jack-rabbit, are not averse to earning an honest quarter-of-a-dollar by the performance of the many odd jobs around the local residences. They live along the bottoms of the Colorado river for many miles, a large reservation occupying the northwestern part of the County, set aside for the benefit of the Yumas, Mojaves and Cocopahs. The latter tribe are far superior to the generality of the Territory's Indians. All are self-supporting.

The town of Yuma is ambitious in the extreme, relying much upon her position, at the "Gateway of Arizona," for future prominence. In addition to the railroad it now has, there is a line projected to connect the Atlantic and Pacific with the Southern Pacific, another to Silver District, another to Port Isabel, on deep water at the mouth of the Colorado, and another, the Cuyamaca road, from San Diego. The last named is now in process of construction, and there is little doubt of its completion within a few years. It is proposed to extend it, on the line of the old Scott survey, up the Gila and Salt rivers, through Phoenix and eastward to Silver City, and the project may eventually be consummated.

But, aside from these, the capabilities of the County for agriculture will alone place her upon a high plane of prosperity, and upon the tillage of the soil does she found her greatest hopes for success.

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