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Imperial press. (Imperial, Cal.) 1901-1901, April 27, 1901, Image 1

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Imperial Press.
What Is Actually Being Done on
the Desert.
E. J. Swayne Talks of the Imperial
Country and its Wonderful
Under the above caption the San
Diegan Sun publishes a series of let
ters from the pen of Mr. E. J. Swayne,
who, with Mr. H. P. W<»od, represent
ed San Diego in the editorial party
which visited the Colorado desert re
cently and investigated the soil of this
country and the work being done to
place water upon it. We make the
following extracts from Mr. Swayne's
letter under date of April 15:
"For many years past there has been
awakening in the minds of some far
seeing men an interest in that portion
of our country located in California,
east of the coast range and immediate
ly north of the Mexican line, and
known as the Colorado desert. These
men, beginning with Dr. O. M. Wozen
craft, as far back as 1856, have per
sistently declared that it was feasibly
to place a great portion of these so
called desert lands under a good state
of cultivation, by flowing upon them
the waters of the Colorado river.
"Men come to the front, plan and
begin to work out great undertakings,
and are often thwarted by uncontrol
able conditions, urcallcd hence. Thus,
as in this case, for many years the un
dertakings sleep. Men think ahead of
their time, and endeavor sometimes to
foster enterprises that belong to a fu
ture generation, the conditions not be
ing ripe in their own.
"It has not been until within a few
years that this great undertaking has
been again revived. The time is un
doubtedly ripe, and the men who, by
their progress, have shown their ca
pability, are now in the field. Such
has been the progress that the people
generally are seeking a deeper knowl
edge of the matter.
"The newspaper is, or ought to be,
the conductor of information for the
public good. It was, therefore, con
ceived that if a large number of rep
resentatives of the press should make
a thorough inspection of this enter
prise, a widspread knowledge of it
might be had earlier than by any other
process. The plan was adopted, and
it was a jolly-good party of fifteen
who met at the Arcade depot at 2
o'clock on the Bth inst., to make the
trip— not only to inspect the great
work of canal construction, but to ex
amine, as well, the lands proposed to
be irrigated. * * * * *
"As true Calif ornians, indeed as true
Americans, many of our people are
seeking more complete information
concerning these enterprises which are
operating at our very door, and within
our own county. No community should
be more aroused concerning these de
velopments than should the people of
San Diego county and particularly the
citizens of San Diego. To no part of
Southern California are the facts and
workings of these companies as im
portant as they are to our own people.
Some of us have, it is true, in person
and by representatives, been investi
gating the merits of the New River
country, but such investigations have
been quite limited to date. The time
is surely ripe for a more critical exam
ination of this enterprise, and this is
the purpose of your two San Diego
The Intake of the Canal
Mr. Swayne continues his narrative
of the Imperial country in the Sun of
the 16th, from which we take the fol
lowing extracts:
• » # » * •
"Let it be understood that the rise
and fall of the Colorado river are such
that the ordinary provisions for an in
take of water into the canal would be
useless. There is, fortunately, at this
point a bluff through which the per
manent opening into the canal will be
IMPERIAL CANAL— in Lower California
cut, a temporary one being now used,
coming in from below.
"Another feature of this heading of
great importance must here be dealt
with. Many persons have condemned
the use of the waters of the Colorado
to be carried any great distance
through canals, because said water is
impregnated with sediment or silt and
would soon fill up any canal. It is not
to be denied that these waters are
heavily charged with silt and this
very fact has caused a scientific study
of and an adoption of a plan to over
come this objection.
"The plan adopted entailed a great
expense, but is being constructed in a
most substantial and painstaking
manner, and consists of a series of
large settling basins, through which
the water passes into the canal.
"It is remarkable how quickly the
heavier silt percipitates when the wa
ter is relieved of the momentum of the
river. Of course, tuese settling basins
would soon fill with the canal in full
activity, but to relieve them a huge
hydraulic dredger has been construct
ed, and is now in operation forcing
this deposit out over the banks to find
its way back to the Colorado.
"True, the silt does not all settle;
the finer particles flow on down the
canal, and fortnnately so, as, instead
of a nuisance this fine silt pays out a
two-fold blessing to the water taker.
It furnishes (according to actual tests
made by Mr. Blaisdell, a successful
farmer living below Yuma) some $3.40
worth of fertilizer to every acre foot of
water, and in time lines the ditches,
so that a large proportion of the ab
sorption is prevented. " • • *
The Water Supply
From Mr. Swayne's third letter, pub
lished on the 18th, we take the follow
ing paragraphs:
# • » » * *
"Before leaving Yuma, I must an
swer a very important inquiry, fre
quently made — 'is there a sufficient
water supply for this great undertak
ing?" Every vestige of doubt on this
subject has been absolutely removed
from my mind. Why? The Colorado
river, now at its minimum, is 9 feet
deep by about 200 feet wide. About
the first of May it annually begins to
rise, reaching its maximum depth of
some 20 feet, with a greatly increased
width, in August, then receding until
October. The capacity of the great
Imperial canal, with its volume of
water at the intake 45 feet wide and
6 feet deep, coupled with the two Ari
zona canals, cannot carry one-twen
tieth of even the surplus flow. The
river is at its highest when the most
water is needed. It is simply needless
to question the supply of water.
• * * # • #
"Imperial city is 28 miles south by 5
miles west from the Southern Pacific
railroad at Flowingwell. It is new,
necessarily small as yet, but inviting.
Contains hotel, with seperate eating
house, store, blacksmith shop, three
cottages, lumber on the ground for a
church, and a printing establishment,
from which the first "Imfkkiai.Pkkss"
will issue on April 20th.
"What character of land did we pass
over on this 28-mile drive to Imperial?
NO. 2.
Well, I am pleased to tell you, as it
was for the critical examination of the
lands and water system that we were
on the journey. For three miles after
leaving Flowingwell. the land is
sandy, and such lands as we are ac
customed to class "desert land," and
such land as I expected to find cover
ing a very large area of this vast plain.
For this reason I have been critical as
to the result of pouring water upon
such ground. I soon found my im
pressions erroneous, as, with the ex
ception of the Salton river bed (a nar
row channel ), the remaining 25 miles
south to Imperial was over land mostly
of good character and requiring little
work to bring it tinder cultivation.
"I cannot pass from here without
first making reference to one Mr. W.
F. Holt, a man of money from Globe,
Arizona. Mr. Holt came here some
months ago, canvassed the situation
critically, saw the evident outcome,
grasped his opportunity, and is hard
at work building for ultimate success.
He has almost completed a telephone
line along the railroad three miles to
Flowingwell, and across the desert 28
miles to Imperial; has a stock of mer
chandise in the said new city, and pur
poses a bank just as soon as the case
will warrant. Such as he are the men
who make a prosperous country, and
who leave the snails to spin around in
a circle and end where they started."
The Soil It Deep aid Rich
We take the following extracts from
Mr. Swayne's fourth letter, published
in the Sun the '2oth:
"As our party goes forward, sur
prises great and small are of daily oc
curance. The great proposition (a
word so familiar to California) grows
in magnitude and importance as we
continue our investigations. The
vast amount of fertile soil, deep and
rich, ready for the plow, requiring
little or no preparation, and practical
ly graded for irrigation, is among the
surprises. • * * *
"The territory to be irrigated is
simply immense; 500,000 acres is said
to be a conservative estimate of the
good land in our own county under
this system of irrigation. Some of
your readers will ask, 'is there not a
great quantity of sandy waste?" The
amount is surprisingly small.
"The second day of our travel by
team covered some 45 miles. It is safe
to state that 35 miles of this trip cov
ered territory first class in character,
and upon the major portion of which
there is no sand or grit. I believe
there is a much less number of waste
acres to the square miles on the desert,
south from Flowingwell, in San Diego
county, than there is in the county
between the coast range and the sea,
and that it averages better in quality.
It costs comparatively little to possess
this land with a permanent and an
abundant supply of water.
"In 1867 I crossed by team from the
Missouri river to the Rocky mountains
over what was then called the "Great
American Plains." The name has
passed from use, as the major portion
of that great territory has been trans
formed from a seeming desert plain to
agricultural and horticultural districts.
I look as surely toward the early trns
formation of the so-called desert in our
own comity.
"In the former case, much of the
territory is today dependent upon
rains, which sometimes fail. In the
latter case, there is water abundant
and to spare, and every p' rchaser un
der the system can have four feet deep
upon every acre he buys, if he wants

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