1/22/16 (Friday) in Winterhaven, CA (Pilot Knob-ROD)
Today we visited the Yuma Quartermaster Depot (and visitor’s information center) [$4 entry fee], where the Army received supplies via steamboat (later via the railroad, when dams made steamboat travel impossible) on the Colorado River and delivered them off to the various outposts throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah ……
Most of the buildings are the original adobe construction, with the Commanding Officer’s Quarters home is believed to be Arizona’s oldest Anglo built adobe building. It survived the Colorado River flood of 1862 because it was on high ground.
We saw different restoration items in the Quartermaster’s House:
The last was a breezeway for those hot summer days, with an old sewing machine on the left.
We learned a lot about the east and west wetland restoration they’ve accomplished here, as well as the effects of all the dams on the Colorado River (the one that carved out the Grand Canyon). In the olden days there was a spot where it was 10 miles wide. The dams have provided stability (no annual flooding) and irrigation for much land. Because of the lack of flooding, though, the wetlands that were important to the wildlife here had dried up, so restoration has brought them back. On the other hand, because of the irrigation, this area (Imperial Valley) provides 90% of the US leafy greens. I believe it, from all that we’ve seen growing here. I’m surprised that sand can yield all these crops. Was it because of the flooding in the past? One interesting feature is the reverse siphon (large pipe structure) they built to move water underground, to the other side of the Colorado River, lifting the water high enough to get into the irrigation canals.
Laguna Dam-built 1909, the first dam on the Colorado, ending steamboat traffic
Hoover Dam-built 1936, created Lake Mead
Parker Dam-built 1939, deepest dam in the world, created Lake Havasu, provides water to LA, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson
Imperial Dam-built in 1939 too, diverts 90% of the river’s remaining water flow, (Mexico has a dam on the Colorado too) and provides the majority of irrigation water for farming.
Back to our Depot: they have a Pie Shoppe too, as well as some cool transportation highlights. They built a plank road over the sand dunes for the cars of the day:
Railroad handcar (with motor here) and an all wood passenger coach.