CHAPTER XI. EHRENBERG—A LONELY VILLAGE OF THE PLAIN ...


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER X. NARRATIVES OF EARLY ARIZONA—BLOODY DEEDS AND THE APACHES... Next: CHAPTER XII. ANTELOPE PEAK—A NIGHT'S COMPANION— LONE PEAKS...


[page 168]

EHRENBERG—A LONELY ‘‘VILLAGE OF THE PLAIN ’’—PAINFUL THOUGHTS—CORONATION PEAK—THE GODDESS OF THE VALLEY—NO ENDOWMENT POLICY—INTEREST, CONTRAST, AND BEAUTY—TO THE LAND OF HEMP, COTTON AND RICE.

FOR some distance back from the Colorado River, to the east, and on the California side, there is a dense cluster of willows, greasewood and timber of smaller growth, which lines the banks of this whimsical stream. On the opposite or Arizona side of the river, you greet the town of Ehrenberg—a unique settlement to those not accustomed to Mexican huts. On the occasion of my arrival there, hosts of Indians were down to push the boat off the shore after the stage had driven upon it. One front of a row of low flat adobé structures, constitute the material town; with a population of five hundred Indians, Mexicans, and a general mixture of a little of everything else—the Indians predominating. Breakfast taken here again, we pushed on. From the river, evidences of


[page 169]

THE CITY OF EHRENBERG—LOOKING UP THE COLORADO RIVER—INDIANS AT PLAY.


[page 171]

fertile soil began to show itself in the constantly increasing growths noticed as we progressed.

Desert riding at its worst, in our country, has only an ideal in the minds of the many. Many people of course, have suffered and died on these very deserts, the result being attributed to the desert, but in reality the desert is not wholly the cause. Ignorant of the nature of their trip many an emigrant has started out without water sufficient to carry him but a very few miles, or having carried perhaps water enough for his journey, but not being acquainted with, and having no one to direct him in his right course, he has wandered and strayed indefinitely at his own risk and peril. We would not recommend any one to attempt uncertain courses, out of beaten tracks. Arizona is not civilized enough to trust to meeting of fellow travelers for guidance, and the natural causes of delusion in distance and direction; the beautiful but deceptive mirage, and the effect of unaccustomed altitudes, all make it dangerous for those not to some extent acquainted with causes or with the country, to trust themselves to their ordinary common sense.

Apart from the beauties which actually do lie in these deserts (so called) the interest all seem to find in them, is noticeable. They are interesting. The diversity of our desert lands is very broken, both as regards safety and beauty. One may have the beauties


[page 172]

here, without the necessary perils. Imagine riding over a sandy desert mesa, and all the horrible visions of skeletons and starvation, and reptile bites, choking from thirst and the like, forcing themselves upon you until nerves are unwittingly wrought to the highest pitch of terror; and then by a sudden reversion of the mind, you realize that a canteen of water which is at your side, is ample to support you from one station to another. On our trip from Yuma to the Santa Rita Mountains these effects were pleasingly realized. With one of our feet on a box filled with canned oysters, and the other on a case of jelly, while our eyes fell upon a choice quarter of fresh lamb or a heap of quail which some of the party had shot on the way. On one occasion we passed a few bones scattered on the sand a short distance from the road. Our driver informed us that they were the remains of a party of two men, a woman and child, who attempted to cross over certain mesas and plains to reach Phoenix, without going on the round-about road to Wickenburg first, and so on down to Phoenix. They lost their way; and getting out of water (which would have lasted them until they reached Wickenburg had they gone the accustomed way) perished.

Thirty miles inland from the Colorada River, and the Gila valley showed unmistakable signs of the richest fertility. Galetta, Gramma, Sacaton, and other


[page 173]

A MOJAVE INDIAN AND BOY AT EHRENBERG.


[page 175]

grasses, together with the more ponderous and harder growths of the mesquite, and palo-verdè trees, could but suggest a rich soil. Dr. Allen, the well-known geologist, upon examining the soil on one occasion, gave it as his opinion, that in a very large majority of cases that which seemed to condemn the lands here as desert, was simply an over crust of a salt formation that rather enriched the ground than otherwise, and that the other sub-soil was a rich loam upon which all products of a semi-tropical (and in many cases of a tropical clime) would excel in production.

Forty miles from Yuma, east from the banks of the Gila River, we had a gorgeous sight of the object known as the Coronation Peak. Our party all dismounted here, to roll and stretch their limbs on the lawn-like meadows that line the river's edge, and to catch the inspiration which this peak throws out to all who will seek her society. There is a spirit in her that speaks to every human soul. The name is derived from the resemblance the top of the peak has to a crown. The tip aspiring heavenward, and playing with the brilliant tints of the clouds, contrasts beautifully with the blue waters of the Gila at the base. The ‘‘shades of evening’’ east over here, with robes of crimson and purple, made poets of us all. I was a poet while I lay sprawling on the ground in the presence of this goddess of the valley. But the trouble is,


[page 176]

I lost the gift of poesy when I parted with her. She doesn't believe in the endowment policy. She has no regard for those who wont stay with her alway. The scenery of Arizona is marked. Her features are peculiar to herself. One does not here see the ‘‘El Capitan’’ nor hear the clashing waters of the Niagara. But at neither Niagara nor in the Yosemite do we see the mirage, nor do we see it anywhere on the earth, perhaps, except in the famous Fatamorgana of Italy. The artist may get his subject in the mountains of California or in the rocky mountains; but for his light and shade, let him go to Arizona. In the trip of which I am in part giving a narrative, several of the members often alluded to the fact that if this or that effect were to be truly pictured on canvass the observer would say that it was ‘‘forced’’—exagerated. Arizona's interest, next to her great mineral wealth, consists in her contrasts. Contrasts beget beauty; and interest in a thing makes that beauty lasting. We have known of many a pretty face, that lacking interest, has lost its charm in a very short time; while we have known of many a homely face whose interest has captivated man for a whole life time. Whereas for general and prolific productiveness, the more southerly part of Arizona may perhaps excel; the more wonderful phenomena must be accredited to the northern portion.


[page 177]

A VIEW OF THE COLORADO AT YUMA.


[page 179]

Traveling up the Gila River there is a very pretty series of mountains and valleys, the mountains hemming the valleys in. But you travel and travel and travel without ever meeting with any obstruction. You continue in one broad, extensive valley unto the end of your journey. For a distance of two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles this unbroken stretch of rich farming land urges the husbandman to share its virtues and merits. As you journey eastward, signs of agriculture increase rapidly until, arriving in the neighborhood of Florence, which is in a direct line east from Yuma, and about one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles from it, the country assumes a charming and cheerful aspect. Professor Wheeler estimated in his reports of Arizona, that, under irrigation, thirty-seven per cent. of the lands of Arizona could be made agricultural, and sixty per cent. pastoral. Rice, hemp, cotton, wild poppy, and opium flourish in the southern portions of the State, while to the east, in the Viego and other of the many rich valleys which lie between the isolated and broken mountain ranges so common in Arizona and the southwest, the cereals thrive wonderfully. Our observations all through the Gila valley forcibly showed this large extent as grazing lands. In some cases even the mesas may be used for pasturage.

Beyond the station at Maricopa Wells, is located the


[page 180]

Pima Indian Villages. In all the distance from here to Florence may be seen crops of corn, grain and the smaller vegetables, cultivated by the Indians. The Pimas are notable for their industry. With the Indian, has always been associated the idea of a people identified only with scalping knives, tomahawks, and a formidable display of feathers and fantastically ornamented robes of skins for clothing. But the word Indian has as wide a range of signification as to say white man. To say white man may mean a Grecian, an American or Mexican; an intelligent man, an industrious man, or a lazy good-for-nothing who may scarcely be worth any thing, be he either white or black. This is about the significance one should get of the present term Indian. There are as great differences to be comprehended in the one term as in the other. Comparisons between the different tribes will show this. Not only either, does this show itself among different nations, so to speak, or locations alone, but between the tribes of one section of the country. Nowhere, in my experience in Indian countries, are these facts more thoroughly demonstrated than in the southwest of our country—including the different classes known under the head of ‘‘The Indian.’’

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER X. NARRATIVES OF EARLY ARIZONA—BLOODY DEEDS AND THE APACHES... Next: CHAPTER XII. ANTELOPE PEAK—A NIGHT'S COMPANION— LONE PEAKS...




© Arizona Board of Regents