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THE LOWER COLORADO
The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, with its stupendous scenic effects, its beauty and its grandeur, is little calculated to raise practical thoughts in the minds of most of its beholders. But anyone with a touch of the engineer in his makeup who gazes into this great chasm must marvel at the tremendous energy- that has been ex erted by running water in carving its way more than a mile in depth through rocks of various degrees of hardness. And into his mind, as his eye gauges the vast can yon, is sure to come the question: What has become of the billions of cubic yards of material that once filled this enormous pit? The lower Colorado country—a re gion of fascination despite its deserts and marshes, its mud volcanoes and shifting sand-dunes—is the answer; for it is truly the creature of the river, built from the countless tiny grains of sand and silt that its waters have brought down through the centuries. The mouth of the Colorado is one of the least-known regions of North America. Only 60 miles to the north in an air line the American town of Yuma has existed for the better part of a century, and through it passes one of the principal transcontinental railroads of the United States; while little more than a hundred miles to the w-est lies the rich valley of southern California and the coast cities with teeming populations. There are physical difficulties in reach ing the mouth of the Colorado; but the chief impediment is an imaginary line— the Mexican border. For while the Col orado is essentially a river of the United States, and traverses its soil for some nine teen-twentieths of its length, for the last 75 miles before it reaches the sea its banks are formed by Mexican territory. And to add to the isolation the sea which the Colorado reaches is tfre long narrow Gulf of California, whose northern end, into which the Colorado pours, is bounded by desert sands and rocky, largely barren mountains. For 200 miles or more below the mouth of the Colorado, the shores of the gulf form a desolate region, almost the only permanent inhabitants of which are \ half-civilized Indians. The Colorado may be compared in one way to the Nile, since for hundreds of miles both flow through desert regions practically without tributaries. Above Yuma, before reclamation work was un dertaken, the suddenness with which one traveling in the desert w-ould stumble upon the river at almost any point along its course was a continuous source of wonder. One of the striking features of the lower Colorado country is just northwest of the river, opposite Yuma, where is to be found one of America’s closest approaches toward duplicating the Sahara. This stretch of country is given over to dunes built of windswept sands brought down by the river and washed by the rare torrential rains from the adjacent hills. A series of long, sinuous ridges with sharp crests, constantly traveling back -and forth as the wind shifts their tiny units, this dazzling waste of sand needs only a camel on summit to have all the atmosphere of the Sahara. Not only has the Colorado created deserts; it has made what may be con sidered their opposites, marshes, as well. Below Yuma, where the river emerges from the rough country, the Colorado delta stretches away to the sea, almost entirely in Mexico. The stream does not flow in one channel on this last lap of its journey, but divides into numerous branches and spreads over a wide, nearly level area, especially in flood season. Between the streamlets are extensive marshes grown up in cat-tails, with willows lining the chan nels. Halfway to the sea the many streams meet in a lake which serves as a settling basin. There, then, is being deposited much of the solid material now washed from the upper Colorado; and while the streams which enter the lake are dark and muddy, those which flow- out are almost clear. On the edge of this lake are numerous mud volcanoes, small mounds which ap pear from a distance like roughly conical shocks of hay. From their craters boils soft, scalding hot mud, while streams and sulphurous gases escape in hissing jets, leaving orange-yellow crystals around the vents and scattering golden dust over the slopes of the mounds. Similar volcanic activity occurs a few miles north of the United States line. One theory is that the tremendous pressure generated on the un derlying strata by the deposits thousands of feet thick which the Colorado has laid down through the ages has caused the heat which shows itself in the development of the mud vents. The Colorado has been a destroyer on a grand scale, and a creator as well of strange geographic regions and forms. But one of its most signal achievements has been in the economic sphere—the addi tion of hundreds of millions of dollars of value to the country. In this accomplish ment the labors of the river for unnum bered centuries must needs be supple mented by brief, but all-important labors of man.’ Ages ago the Gulf of California thrust a long narrow arm more than 150 miles into the interior of North America, per haps 100 miles above the present United States border. Into the side of this deep gulf the Colorado emptied near the present site of Yuma. Blindly the river carried the sands torn from the Grand Canyon and the upper reaches of its streams and dropped them into the gulf. Cubic miles were thrown into the depression and steadily a bar was built out into the salt water. Eventually the bar was built above sea level entirely across the gulf and became a mighty dyke, damming it. At first a fresh or brackish lake existed to the north of this dyke, while the Colorado alternately fed it and dis charged southward into the shortened gulf. But eventually the river took a more or less permanent course to the south; and the lake, no longer fed, and bathed by the intense sunshine and dry air of the south west, evaporated. When this country was first explored by the Spanish pathfinders, a half century after Columbus discovered America, this old lake bed, with its deepest point more than 260 feet below sea level, was one of the hottest, dryest, most desolate regions of the North American continent— the Colorado desert. And so it continued during the explora tion and settlement of the West by Ameri cans. Many of the pioneers bound for the California gold fields in the rush of ’49 passed this way, and found the great de pression of the Colorado desert the most forbidding stretch of their journey. Where anything grew it was typical desert vege tation—cacti, grease-wood, an occasional desert palm. But much of it was dry, pow dery soil devoid of all vegetation. The temperature was one of the highest on the globe, sometimes reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit. But though the was a desert be cause of the lack of moisture, its soil was a wonderful rich silt, washed down by the Coloradoy as potentially productive as the soil of the famous delta of the Nile. A few’ engineers recognized this and saw that since the region lay below the level of the Colorado river its irrigation would be a relatively simple matter. Water was first taken by canal to the desert in 1901, and wherever it was led the desert char acter disappeared. Alfalfa and other crops quickly covered the one-time dead, seared soil with a sheet of green, while trees sprang up beside the water courses. The one-time Colorado desert has dis appeared to be replaced by the Imperial valley, one of the most remarkable agri cultural regions of the United States. Where a score of years ago the Colorado desert did not produce a single dollar’s worth of crops, the produce of the trans formed Imperial valley now represents interest on approximately half a billion dollars. And the muddy Colorado can be given, fundamentally, all the credit. The Imperial valley might, in truth, be termed a “by-product” of that great scenic won der, the Grand Canyon. The river is doubly the valley’s creator. It built up the rich soil from the materials it gouged out in making the canyon, and it brings throughout the year the life-giving water that on the canvas of the Southwest has erased a desert and drawn in an agri cultural wonderland.— Selected. “JOHNNY APPLESEED,” SCOUT WHO PLANTED ORCHARDS Not all of the great scouts were Indian fighters. In contrast to the career of Lewis Wetzel, who was something of a profes sional Indian killer, is the life of John Chapman or “Johnny Appleseed.” Chap man never killed an Indian in his life, but he probably saved as many white men from death at their hands as Wetzel did. Chapman first appeared on the Ohio frontier in -1806. He came floating down the Ohio river in a canoe, towing another, and both boats w’ere loaded with apple seeds from the cider mills of Pennsyl vania. His purpose was to plant the seeds in the wilderness so that orchards would be started for the settlers when they arrived there to make their homes. For the next 30 years he went every where up and down the Ohio country, planting seeds, going from one orchard to another, pruning and caring for the young trees. He was a welcome visitor in the log cabins of the settlers for he always carried a Bible and some books from which he woud read and preach to them before the blazing fireplaces in the even ing. Johnny practiced his teachings of humility and kindness. He never killed anything for food. He carried a kit of cooking utensils, including a mush pan, which he sometimes wore as a hat. Usual ly he wore a broad-brimmed black hat, but a coffee sack with arm holes cut in it was his only coat. White men called him “queer,” for he often went barefoot in winter as well as in summer, but the Indians said, “He has been touched by the Great Spirit.” He went everywhere among them unharmed, for the fact that Johnny never carried a gun convinced them that he was under the special protection of the Manito. During the War of 1812 when the Brit ish were overrunning the Ohio country, Johnny Appleseed performed his greatest service for his people. In his wanderings among the tribes he often learned of their plans for attacks on the settlements. Where no other white man could have gone, Johnny passed in safety and more than once he carried warnings to the settlers, giving them time to prepare for defense before the red invaders, swept down upon them. All this time Johnny Appleseed was carrying out his cherished dream of mak ing Ohio bloom with fruit trees and many of the finest orchards in that state today owe their beginnings to this strange man. In his later years Johnny left the country which he had helped beautify and went to live with a relative in Fort Wayne, Ind. He died in 1847. — Ex. Refusing to accept his own excuse for being late, a Georgia judge fined himself $1 for every minute he missed from court. He accepted the qualification of naval ob servatory time as a witness that he was late and fined himself accordingly.— Ex. ~ --am RADIUM (Continued from page 1) is harmed ?” I wondered. “No,” replied Mr. Hoover, “it is im possible 'to overcharge water by any method known to science today. Drink ing such water cannot do any harm. “Radium bromide, which is the chemical name for one of the varieties of so-called pure radium, can cause severe burns. The Alpha rays are exceedingly strong. But we have found out enough to know that Alpha rays in the right proportions cause tissues to grow and increase their vitality. The Beta rays are germicidal and have a greater penetrative power. The Gamma rays can pierce a sheet of lead an inch thick.” “Mr. Hoover, if what you say is true, the people who now carry a buckeye for rheumatism can throw it aw'ay and keep a little chunk of radium ore for the same purpose. If I understand you correctly there would be enough emanation from a piece of rock to tone up a fellow’s system.” “Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, though one of our journals did men tion the case of a man who picked up a queer rock and put it in his pocket as a curiosity. He almost forgot about it, but some time later he was troubled by some severe burns that notified him that it was no ordinary rock. Later, he sold it for $20,000. Before you could carry a piece of ore to advantage you would have to be sure it emitted any rays at all and then, if so, what kind those rays were.” “How do you detect the presence of radio-activity in a mineral and how can you tell which kinds of rays are being emanated?” I inquired. “We use a very simple but highly sensi tive instrument called the electroscope. It is a metal box with two thin gold leaves suspended in it. These leaves project at an angle from each other like the crotch of a boy’s sling shot. If you put a radio active substance in the box, the air is ionized, causing the leaves to close in on one another like a duck’s bill. The time required for this closing-in movement is measured and calculations are made which tell the amount of radio-activity present. “By using screens beginning with a thin aluminum foil and progressively adding layer upon layer, the Alpha rays are .first screened off, then the Beta rays and finally by using a lead screen, the Gamma rays. “To show you how sensitive the electro scope is, I can tell you an experience I once had. I was working with some mixed radium salts and had trapped some emanations in a tiny glass tube which I sealed off with a gas flame. Later I broke this tube in an electroscope. It not only discharged my ’scope but put out of com mission every other ’scope in the large room. The emanations persisted for four days and all the instruments were unfit for experimentation during that time. A thousandth part of the emanation obtain able from a gram of radium if mixed with the air of a large hall or auditorium would be strong enough to incapacitate these delicate instruments. The amount of radio-activity in a single cubic foot of air of that hall could be detected by an elec troscope. “Radium is obtained from kernotite ore found widely in the United States and monozite sands also existing in large quantities in this country and Brazil. The pitchblende of Bohemia is particularly rich in radium.” I asked Mr. Hoover how radium was found in the field, how prospectors would know radium-bearing ore. “You can carry an electroscope in a suit case,” he answered, “and when you find a rock you want to test, you simply place it in the ’scope. Then you can soon tell if it is radium-bearing. By making compari sons with the standards in a handbook, the investigator can tell the grade of the ore. .1 J . I "