Today we thought it would be fun to get out and about, drive around the local area after we returned our rental car! First destination was to drive south to San Luis, one of the second fastest growing places in Arizona from 1990-2000, and is considered part of the Yuma metropolitan statistical area.
However, our first stop was at the Yuma Visitor’s Center, also home to the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park. The park is located right along Yuma’s main drag and preserves the history of the U.S. Army’s presence in Yuma from 1864 to 1883. Back when riverboat steamers brought supplies up from the mouth of the Colorado River to serve Army outposts throughout the region. Hard to fathom riverboat steamers in this part of the world, but they definitely were the lifeline to survival back in those days. Before the railroad entered the Southwest, a six-month supply of food, clothing, ammunition and other staples were quartered here for distribution to forts in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. The park shows the old commanding officer’s quarters and a few other buildings that have been painstakingly restored to be ready to commemorate Arizona’s centennial later this month.
Aside from accumulating a lot of literature of places to see in the local area, one of the most interesting things we learned about was about the construction of the marvel of the time; the Yuma Siphon, an engineering project that sounds even ambitious today. This is a massive tunnel under the Colorado River that delivers irrigation water to the Yuma Valley. Water first bubbled up through the Siphon in June, 1912 and is still operational “full stream” today, delivering water to tens of thousands of people and hundreds of farms growing a myriad of crops in the area. No wonder Yuma is dubbed the “Winter Vegetable Capital of the United States”.
The challenge the Siphon builders faced with 1912 equipment and engineering know-how is pretty amazing. It’s a 14-foot diameter concrete tube through the sandstone fifty feet under the river bed that stretches 965’ between its 85’ deep California shaft and its 83’ deep Arizona exit. This area gets an annual rain fall of less than 3” and with the development of the Siphon, the fate of Yuma changed forever and secured the town’s survival. Over 230,000 acres are irrigated from this project along with the All-American canal and will write about that later. Truly an engineering marvel!
After spending a bit of time in the visitor’s center and knowing we would come back to spend more time exploring the park we proceeded southward on Hwy 95 to the border town of San Luis. Well, truly NOT a lot to see along the way other than farm fields and laborers hard at work in a multitude of fields.
We read San Luis was established in 1930 with the opening of a border-crossing station and has continued to grow with the constant migration from Mexico and California. San Luis also is home to one of the state’s largest male penitentiaries that employs close to 800. We never saw the prison, nor did we see anything remotely interesting to photograph, so you’ll just have to take our word for it that there just wasn’t a lot to see along this stretch of road to the border or in San Luis!
We checked out a few other RV parks in the area, as we are prone to do, and did happen upon some interesting nature shots to share. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here two weeks already, it’s flying by way too fast!
And thanks to many of you writing and expressing your concerns about the warnings for Americans traveling into Mexico. We are no where close to the areas being targeted and this area is safe from the drug cartels and problems in other parts of the country - we appreciate your concerns, but assure you; all is well here! Thanks again!
Till the next time . . .