Tag Archives: yuma

Out & About—The All-American Canal

Out & About

Canals always have fascinated me. When I was running around as a juvenile delinquent in Brigham City, Utah, in the earl 1960s, I used to climb in the canal that directed water around the Mormon Temple and ride the water all around the plaza.

When I was over in Yuma, Arizona, this past week, I saw a lot of the All-American Canal. Looks like this:All American Canal

All American Canal

Yes. I wanted to jump in.

The All-American Canal is an aqueduct 82 miles long in southeastern California and is the only water source for the massive Imperial Valley. It provides drinking water for nine cities, irrigation water for the Imperial Valley, and electricity via its many hydroelectric dams.

Along with the Hoover Dam, the All-American Canal was authorized by the 1928 Boulder Canyon Project Act. Construction began in the 1930s and was completed in 1942. It is the largest irrigation canal in the world and moves a maximum of 26,155 cubic feet of water per second. Most water for the Canal is diverted from the Colorado River by the Imperial Dam, located about 30 miles northeast of Yuma.

Originally one of the driest places on earth, the Imperial Valley now is a huge crop land comprising about 630,000 acres, all due to the All-American Canal. Agricultural runoff from the Canal, comprising silt, selenium, and sales, drains into the Salton Sea, sadly, because there is no way for water to drain out of the Salton Sea, leaving a large, polluted lake with pollution becoming even more concentrated due to evaporation. Any fish caught in the Canal should not be eaten since they are known to have high levels of mercury, PCBs, and selenium.

There are five smaller canals which branch off the All-American Canal to help move water through the Imperial Valley, as well as a large network of even smaller canals. The main canal has a total drop of 175 feet, a width between 150 feet  and 700 feet, and a depth ranging from 7 feet to 50 feet.

All American CanalEight hydroelectric power plants have been constructed along drops in the All-American Canal system, all relatively small and providing a combined capacity of 58 MW.

The Canal runs through the Algodones Dunes, an extraordinarily dry and hot area, losing a lot of water due to evaporation. It used to lose 68,000 acre feet per year due to seepage, especially in the Algodones Dunes. Eventually, 23 miles of the canal was lined with concrete to prevent seepage, but that created other environmental problems. In some areas, a parallel, lined canal was constructed and water diverted into it to help control seepage.

Over 500 people, mostly Mexican citizens attempting to cross have into the United States, have drowned in the Canal since its completion because of deep, cold water, steep sides that make escape difficult, and swift currents of up to 5½ miles per hour. It has been called “the Most Dangerous Body of Water in the U.S.” In 2011 the Imperial Irrigation District started installing lifesaving buoy lines across the canal in 105 locations, as well as bilingual signs reading “Warning: Dangerous Water” in 1,414 locations.

All American Canal

All American Canal

All American Canal

All American Canal

All American Canal

All American Canal

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Out & About—Laguna Dam

Out & About

 

Dams always have fascinated me. I remember making dams along the street curbs when it rained and then playing in the huge lake the dam created.

When I was in Yuma, Arizona, a few days ago, I discovered the history of dams on the Colorado River.

Laguna Diversion Dam, 1905
Price-Stubb Dam, 1911
Hoover Dam, 1936
Imperial Dam, 1938
Parker Dam, 1938
Headgate Rock Dam, 1941
Shadow Mountain Dam, 1946
Morelos Dam, 1950
Granby Dam, 1950
Davis Dam, 1951
Palo Verde Dam, 1958
Glen Canyon Dam, 1966
Windy Gap Dam 1970

Hoover Dam, original named Boulder Dam, created Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. The Glen Canyon Dam created Lake Powell. Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell are huge recreational areas.

Notice the first dam on the list, the Laguna Diversion Dam. Prior to 1905, the Colorado River was a major steamboat passageway. The Laguna Dam effectively ended steamboat travel on the Colorado River.

Tourist displays in Yuma indicated that the Laguna Dam, Imperial Dam, and Morelos Dam were nearby, so I set off in search of them.

The Morelos Dam was closest, but it also happens to be in Mexico. Since I don’t have a passport, I did not go into Mexico.

Imperial Dam was not accessible because the dam is on U.S. Goverment property and the road was gated.

Laguna Dam, the first on the list, was accessible. Looks like this:

Laguna Dam in Arizona

Laguna Dam in Arizona

The Laguna Dam originally connected Arizona to California, but when the Imperial Dam was completed in 1938, the California part of the dam no longer was needed, and its diversion outlets were closed on June 23, 1948. What you see in the above pictures is on the Arizona side, all that is left of the original dam.

The Laguna Dam now regulates water outflow from the Imperial Dam into the All American Canal, a huge aqueduct 80 miles long that that feeds Colorado water into the Imperial Valley for irrigation, as well as providing water to nine cities. More on the All American Canal in tomorrow’s post.

Out & About—Ogilby, California

Out & About

 

Long-time readers know that I’m a big baby when it comes to trains. I love them. Trains often are part of my explorations, so when I went exploring a couple of days ago looking for the Wood Plank Road, I spent a lot of time wandering around looking for trains, too.

Yuma, Arizona, happens to be one of those places where my favorite railroad, Union Pacific, runs a lot of trains, fifty or more each day. They are not short trains, either, some being up to two miles long. Sadly, the layout of Yuma with all its little mountains and valleys meant that there was not a place to get good pictures or videos of all the trains.

That left me wandering around out in the desert looking for trains and train history. I went down Ogilby Road where my source book told me there was an abandoned Southern Pacific settlement and an old mine. The settlement, Ogilby, is a ghost town, and although my source book said there were remnants of building foundations, I didn’t find any. My source book was published in 1994, so 25 years of drifting sands might have obscured the remaining foundations.

I did find the old Catholic cemetery. Looks like this:

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby was founded in 1877 as a railroad stop for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The American Girl Mine in Obregon was on the other side of Ogilby Road. The mine was closed in 1939, and Obregon was abandoned the same year. Ogilby, named after E.R. Ogilby, mine promoter. The post office closed in 1942, and by 1961, the town was abandoned.

Interestingly, there were three grave markers that indicated people were buried there well after 1961, and one indicated that the person was born in 1963, a couple of years after the town was abandoned.

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Although there are grave markers, I could not if there actually were graves there. If there were, they are well below ground as is done in modern times. My own belief is that a family would not bury a loved one out in the boondocks, in spite of the fact that they might have been born and raised there. I think the loved one is buried in a city cemetery somewhere and a memorial marker was placed in this cemetery.

The Ol’ Road Grader was 75, but the other two were 38 and 50, not only indicative of the lower life expectancy of the times but probably indicative of life in the area as well. There also were a lot of small graves typically of children and babies.

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

Ogilby Cemetery

After having visited the area a couple of days ago in my nice, air conditioned 2019 Honda Insight, I really can’t imagine what life was like out there in the desert 150-200 years ago.