Yuma Reclamation Project
Irrigation, Indian Allotment, and Settlement Along the Lower Colorado River
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Nevada Press
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Illustrations and Tables
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As a historical geographer, my initial interest in the colonization of the arid West is revealed in my book The Lost Frontier: Water Diversion in the Growth and Destruction of Owens Valley Agriculture, published in 1994. The Lost Frontier focuses on the manner in which irrigated...
Chapter 1: The Final Frontier
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On June 17, 1902, when Theodore Roosevelt signed the Newlands Reclamation Act into law, both Congress and the president had by then resolved that a national irrigation policy would be necessary in order to subdue the country’s remaining irrigable, but not so easily irrigated, lands in the western United States.1 Outside of Alaska, these lands, along with...
Chapter 2: Quechan Land
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According to the Quechan creation myth, Kumastamxo, the younger of two great spiritual leaders of the Yuman tribes, lived with his various peoples atop a flat-topped mountain known as Avikwamé, the place of creation. The several Yuman tribes then all descended from...
Chapter 3: Early Irrigation Ventures
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The beginning of irrigation near the Colorado-Gila confluence was associated with the early overland stage lines that used the Gila Valley to cross the desert of Southwest Arizona. The first stage line in the region was organized in 1857 and was operated twice monthly between Fort Yuma...
Chapter 4: The Yuma Project
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By the time irrigation developments began to unfold in the Yuma Valley, irrigators had already appropriated many of the smaller streams of the arid West. Since it was the smaller streams issuing from the western mountain ranges that were most easily diverted to newly planted fields, at the turn of the twentieth century a fragmented pattern...
Chapter 5: Allotment
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The contract for the construction of Laguna Dam was awarded in July 1905, and the work was to be finished within two years. Dissatisfied with repeated delays and increased costs of construction, the Reclamation Service took over the work in January 1907, when approximately...
Chapter 6: Bard
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The irrigable land in the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation overlapped portions of two townships. Since all of the Indian allotments were confined to that portion of the Colorado River floodplain located in t16s, r22e, Anglo settlers by default were assigned the irrigable area found in the adjoining township, t16s, r23e. The former came to be known as the...
Chapter 7: Yuma Valley Travails
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The Yuma Valley presented a set of problems for the Reclamation Service different from those found in the Indian and Bard units across the river. The majority of land in the valley had already been filed upon and was in the process of being transferred to private ownership when the Yuma Project was approved. It was widely assumed when the federal reclamation...
Chapter 8: Distress and Discontent
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The distress and discontent that prevailed in the Yuma Valley spread to other parts of the project as a multiplicity of new problems arose once water from the Colorado River began to be turned onto project lands. Many of the complications encountered on the Yuma Project were similar to those found on other Reclamation projects, particularly those dealing...
Chapter 9: Reclamation and Retrospect
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In many respects, the Yuma Project is a microcosm of the multifaceted difficulties found in various combinations on different federal irrigation projects. But in spite of the disappointments and conflicts connected with its early years of settlement and development, Yuma, because of its practically year-round growing season, also stood out among the early...
Chapter 10: Epilogue
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It is along the Colorado River that “the most celebrated showpieces of American water engineering have appeared.”1 In the process of furnishing water to nearly 30 million people and 3.7 million acres of farmland in seven western states and northern Mexico, the Colorado has become one of the most dammed, diverted, and (over)regulated rivers in the...
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Sauder YURE back flap
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Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 26 b/w photos, 31 maps, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2009