7. AGRICULTURAL AND FARMING LANDS.—EXTENT, LOCATION, ETC.
THE amount of rich agricultural and farming land in the Territory of Arizona is from fifteen to twenty million acres, but owing to a scarcity of water for irrigation, there is now susceptible of cultivation But about two million eight hundred thousand acres. Crops cannot Be successfully raised in most of the great valleys and plains without irrigation, and as there is not sufficient water in the rivers, owing to the sinking of the water as Before stated, a large portion of them lie waste, and must continue in that state until water is obtained by artesian wells or otherwise, for the purpose, which it is confidently believed will be accomplished most successfully, when the necessities of the country require and demand it.
A splendid opportunity is here presented for action by the General Government, in developing artesian wells at different points in the Territory, thus bringing large quantities of as rich land into market, and under successful cultivation, as can Be found on the
This subject has been presented to Congress by the Honorable R. C. McCormick, but it has never received the attention which it deserves. This may be in part owing to indifference, and partly to a lamentable ignorance on the part of our law makers at Washington, respecting the wonderful capacities of this far off and almost isolated Territory. It is to be hoped that future delegates in Congress from the Territory will, among other important matters of legislation, press this one to a successful issue.
The largest tract of agricultural land which can now be cultivated in Arizona, is that on Salt River, in Maricopa County, in and around Phœnix for a distance of from twenty to fifty miles. The amount of such land in this rich valley is approximately one million of acres. The soil is a rich alluvium, capable of producing, with good tillage, twenty-five to fifty
In the Gila Valley, extending from above Florence to Yuma, there are in all at least five hundred thousand acres of land, similar in character and productiveness to that of the valley of Salt River, and capable of producing the same cereals, vegetables, fruits, etc. In this great valley is the Gila River Indian Reservation, where the Pima Indians have cultivated wheat, corn, pumpkins, melons, etc., for the past two centuries.
In the Chiquito Colorado Valley, including its tributary and lateral Valleys, there are about five hundred thousand acres of good farming and grass land, which produces wheat, barley, corn, and most of the fruits and vegetables common to the Northern States. Wild flax grows here very abundantly, and when first explored it was from that reason called Flax River. Many thousand tons of wild hay, of excellent quality, could be cut in this valley annually, and in the course of time this will become very valuable. In the upper part of the valley, at the Milligan Settlement,
Along the upper portions of Salt River, including the valleys of its many tributaries, there are in all at least two hundred thousand acres of land, capable of raising most of the products before named, and in those valleys which extend well up into the mountains, Irish potatoes of an excellent quality can be successfully raised.
The Pueblo Viejo Valley, sometimes called the Upper Gila Valley, has, with its tributary valleys, that of Ash Creek and others, over one hundred thousand acres of choice farming land, rich, beautiful, and productive, and is one of the most desirable places for settlement in the whole Territory. Its altitude is about four thousand feet, which is a sufficient elevation to escape the extreme heat of the lower valleys, and to give a mild and healthy climate in winter. Snow is almost unknown in the valley, and the Gila River furnishes a large volume of water sufficient to irrigate most of the valleys when properly distributed. The products are about the same as those of the valleys of the Salt and Gila rivers mentioned above.
There are in the Santa Cruz Valley, and its tributaries, about one hundred thousand acres of choice farming land, a portion of which, near Tucson, has been cultivated continuously for two centuries or more, and is now seemingly as productive as when the valley first became well known to our people, twenty-five years since. In this valley were some of the first settlements of the early Spanish explorers, and here also were located some of the first of the old Jesuit missions founded during the latter part of the sixteenth and the first part of the seventeenth century.
The San Pedro Valley is about fifty miles east from Tucson, in which, and the lateral valleys, are about fifty thousand acres of good farming land, most of which can be successfully cultivated. At Tres Alimos, in this valley, are some well cultivated farms and one choice dairy farm, that of H. C. Hooker, Esq. Near the upper part of the San Pedro Valley is one old Spanish-Mexican land grant, said to be the only one in the Territory which is legal and valid. At Tres Alimos, a grant was made of several leagues many years since, on conditions which were never fulfilled, and consequently the grant is void. This freedom from land grants in Arizona is extremely favorable to its settlement, and its future prosperity and freedom from litigation and strife, which has been so prolific a source of trouble in California. It will give to the settler peace and security, it will give permanent homes to the many, and build up good communities where schools and churches can be supported by a resident and independent farming community.
In the valley of Bill Williams Fork, and along its tributaries, the Sandy, Santa Maria, and other creeks, there are many tracts of excellent farming lands, in all many thousand acres. These tracts are mostly in Mohave County, and embrace nearly all the tillable land in the valleys of that county which are at present supplied with water. There are large valleys,
In Yavapai County there are scores of smaller valleys than those heretofore mentioned, containing from a few hundred to several thousand acres of choice land each, where wheat, corn, vegetables of all kinds, all the common northern fruits, and excellent potatoes can be raised most successfully. In the aggregate there are in these valleys over one hundred thousand acres of good land, and these beautiful and pleasant valleys have a certain charm about them, which is drawing to them scores of families who are building up pleasant homes, and happy firesides. The pure mountain atmosphere which surrounds all the little valleys in the mountainous regions of Arizona is drawing to them a large share of the present farming immigration to the Territory, and especially of families from many of the States and Territories.
Go where one will in all parts of the Territory, in the foot hills, and through the mountains, pleasant and delightful valleys are continually attracting the attention of the explorer, many of them having springs of clear, crystal water, and often one will find small rills and rivulets which are sufficient to supply the wants of many horses, cattle, and sheep.
There evidently was a time in the long past when there was far more running water in Arizona than now, when many of the large valleys, now destitute, were well supplied. Climatic changes, the filling of the valleys to a great depth by a rich alluvium brought down from the mountains by water erosion, and perhaps other causes, have operated to make them as we now find them, destitute of water, and consequently uninhabitable, until water shall be obtained by artesian wells, or otherwise. Could these great valleys and plains be supplied with sufficient water for irrigation, many million acres of exceedingly rich land could be brought under successful cultivation, and would add millions of wealth to the agricultural products of the Territory.
The Sulphur Springs Valley, seventy-five miles east of Tucson, is from ten to twenty-five miles wide and one hundred miles or more in length, having a rich soil, which with a good water supply would support a large population, but which is now almost entirely worthless for farming purposes, as it is almost wholly destitute of water, except what is obtained from a series of springs at different points in the valley. These springs afford a water supply sufficient for thousands and tens of thousands of cattle, horses, sheep, etc., but not sufficient for farm irrigation.
To the east of Apache Pass is the San Simon Valley, which is similar to the Sulphur Springs Valley, and of about the same extent and quality. This valley extends north from the line of the Pacific Mail Stage Line to the Pueblo Viejo Valley on the upper Gila River some fifty miles, and south down into Sonora. The soil, like that of the other valleys in the Territory, is exceedingly rich, and like them, owing
Another great plain is between Florence and Phœnix, which covers an area of fifty or more square miles, but differing from the two last mentioned in some respects, being a slightly elevated plateau, or mesa land, at an elevation of one or two hundred feet above the bottom lands of the Gila and Salt rivers; the Gila River being on the south, and Salt River on the north.
Much of this level and beautiful mesa was evidently cultivated by the ancient prehistoric race, who long, long ago, inhabited and cultivated most of the great valleys and plains of Arizona, and who have left here, as elsewhere, many mementoes of their former life, and of their habits, character, and pursuits.
In Mohave County, in the northwestern part of the Territory, there are several great valleys worthy of mention. One of these, the Sacramento Valley, extends from Bill Williams Fork on the south, to Stone's Ferry on the north, a distance of over one hundred and fifty miles, with a width of five to twenty-five miles. This great valley is also destitute
Another fine and beautiful valley lies to the east of the Cerbat Mountains, and is known as the Hualapai (wal-la-pi) Valley. It is hemmed in by lofty mountains, the Hualapai Mountains on the south, the Peacock range on the east, the Cerbat range on the west, and the Music Mountains on the north. The valley is eighty miles long nearly north and south, and five to twenty miles wide east and west. There is no permanent stream of water running through this valley, and no outlet for a river if there was any. During the rainy season, the water which falls in the valley, and on the surrounding mountains, is collected into a small lake in its northern part, where it remains for a few months, until carried
In the mountains and foot hills contiguous to, and surrounding all of these great plains and valleys, there are many springs and small rivulets, where a good water supply can be obtained for horses, cattle, and sheep, but these waters all sink soon after entering the plains and valleys.
There are scores of smaller valleys in different portions of the Territory, somewhat similar in character to those mentioned, most of which will no doubt in time be utilized and made productive by means of artesian wells. Many of these smaller valleys are now being located and settled on by immigrants from all parts of the Union, and are being improved to some extent, especially in the mountain region, where much of the soil can be successfully cultivated without irrigation.