AGRICULTURE AND GRAZING
Although not generally considered an agricultural country, Arizona contains some of the richest valleys to be met with in the United States. Cereals, fruits, and vegetables of all kinds are raised in every portion of the Territory. Wherever water can be had for irrigation, a bounteous yield is assured, and in the southern portion of the Territory, two crops in the same year are not uncommon. The farming land of Arizona is confined
This county has been well named ‘‘the garden spot of the Territory.’’ It has the finest body of land in Arizona, and its farms, orchards, and vineyards will not suffer by comparison with any portion of the Golden State. The first settlement was made in this valley a little over ten years ago. It was then a barren desert, covered with coarse grass, sage, and cactus; to-day it is one of the loveliest spots on the Pacific coast. Fields of golden grain and blossoming alfalfa; extensive vineyards and orchards; beautiful gardens, brilliant with their floral adornments nearly every month in the year; groves of cottonwoods and lines of the graceful Lombardy poplar diversify the landscape in every direction; and to crown all, tasteful homes are seen peeping above their leafy surroundings up and down the river as far as the eye can reach. In this beautiful and productive spot, wheat, barley, and alfalfa are the principal crops. The soil is a sandy loam, but there are portions of the valley
The soil is peculiarly adapted to the raising of sugarcane, and some of the stalks attain a height of over twelve feet. It has been estimated that an acre of this cane will yield 200 gallons of syrup, of an excellent quality; it also makes a nutritious food for horses and stock. There are about 1,000 acres of this valuable plant now under cultivation, and the area is being steadily increased, many farmers finding it more profitable than the raising of grain. Figs, peaches, apricots, and grapes do well in the Salt River valley, and in size and flavor are not excelled on the Pacific coast. Apples and strawberries are cultivated to some extent, and experiments with oranges, lemons, and other semi-tropical fruits, have shown that the valley is peculiarly adapted for their successful cultivation. In fact, there is no country west of the Rocky mountains which seems so well fitted for the raising of fruits. Climate, soil, and situation, all seem to be favorable, and the valley promises to become one of the greatest fruit-raising regions of the Pacific coast. The business of wine-making is being gone into extensively, and a very fine article is produced, which in body and flavor compares favorably with the best California. There are at present 500 acres in grapes, 150 acres in peaches, 50 acres in apricots, 25 acres in figs, besides a number of acres in apples, strawberries, oranges, lemons, etc. Of barley, it is estimated there are over 5,000 acres in cultivation; in wheat, 5,000 acres; corn, 500 acres; and alfalfa, 2,000 acres. The average yield of wheat and barley is about 1,500 pounds to the acre, and the average price received by the farmers is about $1 40 per hundred, sacked.
The grain is sown in the Salt-river valley in October, November, and December. Harvesting begins in the latter part of May, and ends the first of July. Everything is grown by irrigation. From three to five floodings are necessary to raise a crop of small grain. The cost of irrigation is about $2 50 per acre. Where the land is favorably situated, it is estimated that crops can be raised as cheaply by this plan as by rainfall, besides being much more certain. The water is conveyed over the land by large canals. Owing to the number of these canals, a large quantity of water is wasted and lost by evaporation, which could be utilized with a proper and comprehensive system of irrigation. The farms in the valley extend for nearly 30 miles along the river. The amount of land which can be cultivated depends entirely on the supply of water. There are at present something over 16,000 acres reclaimed from the desert; with a proper irrigating system, it is believed that as many more can be made productive. Land in the valley, with a water right, can be bought for $5 and $10 per acre, according to quality and situation.
Maricopa county, besides the valley of the Salt river, has some fine farming land along the Gila, which is cultivated at several points. The land is fully as rich as that on the Salt, but the supply of water is not as abundant. At Gila Bend, below the junction of both streams, there is a fine body of land, capable of producing all kinds of grain, fruits, and vegetables. Most of this land is still unoccupied, and open for pre-emption. Maricopa will always be the leading agricultural county of the Territory, and in a few years the region of country which has Phœnix for its center will become one of the most inviting and productive spots on the coast, rich in its immense fields of grain, and beautiful with its groves of orange trees, and its vineyards and orchards.
The agricultural land in this county is confined to the valleys of the Gila and the San Pedro. For a distance of eighteen miles along the former stream there is a line of fine farms, and for thirty miles up the San Pedro, the valley has been brought under cultivation at different points. In the neighborhood of Florence, the county seat, the valley of the Gila is over a mile wide, and contains some of the richest land in the Territory. Here, as everywhere else, irrigation is required to produce a crop, and the area that can be cultivated depends entirely on the water supply. Corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa, vegetables, and fruits are raised in Pinal county. The soil is a rich loam of durable fertility, and well adapted to the usual agricultural products and semi-tropical fruits. There is no more beautiful sight in the Territory than the valley of the Gila surrounding Florence, when the ripening grain, waving fields of alfalfa, and shady groves of mesquite and cottonwood are in their bloom. There are thousands of acres of fine land above and below Florence, which are lying idle for the want of water. It is believed that with a proper system of irrigation, double the number of acres now under cultivation could be made to produce fine crops. There is evidence in the ruins of the Casa Grande that this portion of Arizona supported a dense population at one time; and the remains of the large irrigating canals go to show that those ancient tillers of the soil had a much more comprehensive idea of the irrigating problem than their modern successors. The number of acres under cultivation in Pinal county is estimated at 6,000, not including the land occupied by the Pimas, which is nearly all within the limits of this county. The yield for 1880 was: Barley, 1,000,000 pounds; wheat, 400,000 pounds; corn, 350,000 pounds; besides large quantities of hay and alfalfa. The yield of grain to the acre was: Barley, 1,500 pounds; wheat, 1,200 pounds; besides cereals, beans, potatoes, onions, cabbages, turnips, and all kinds of vegetables are raised in abundance.
The principal body of farming land in this county is found along the valley of the Verde. This valley averages from a few hundred yards to a half a mile in width. The soil is a rich loam, and in places a black mold of great fertility. The river bottom is settled its entire length, where it is not confined to canyons. There is plenty of water for irrigation, and good crops are raised in the driest season. Corn, wheat, and barley are the principal productions. Although but little attention has been paid to fruit, it has been demonstrated that fine grapes and peaches can be grown in this valley. Outside of the Verde the farming lands of Yavapai are confined to small valleys situated from four to six thousand feet above sea level. Among the most important of these valleys are Williamson, Chino, Peeple's, Agua Fria, Skull, Kirkland, and Walnut Grove. Their soil is generally a rich mold, formed by the detritus from the surrounding hills. There is no water for irrigation in most of them, and farmers depend entirely on rain for the raising of a crop. Corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa, and all kinds of vegetables, are raised in these elevated valleys, their greatest drawback being late and early frosts and droughts. Fine apples and peaches are grown in several places, and grapes in some secluded nooks. The number of acres under cultivation in Yavapai is estimated at 5,000, although no reliable data can be had from the assessor's office.
The valley of the Santa Cruz is the principal agricultural settlement of this county. This stream, which rises in the Huachuca mountains, sinks in the thirsty sands for more than two thirds of its course. Near Tubac and Calabasas, opposite Tucson, and at San Xavier, the stream comes to the surface, and the land in the vicinity is brought under cultivation, producing crops of cereals, vegetables, and fruits. The valley of the Santa Cruz, opposite Tucson, has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and shows no dimunution in its productiveness. The soil is rich, and only needs water to grow anything that is planted in it. The Sonoita valley, east of the Santa Ritas, and about sixty miles south-east of Tucson, is one of the most productive spots in the southern portion of the Territory. It extends from old Fort Buchanan to Calabasas, nearly thirty miles, and is settled, wherever water can be had, the entire distance. The soil is a rich, dark loam, and the climate is well adapted for fruit raising. This valley was time and again swept with fire and drenched with blood during the Apache wars, and the graves of its early settlers mark the hillsides from one end of the valley to the other. The valley of the Arivaca, in the southern part of the county, contains some good land, but it is claimed by a "grant," thus preventing settlement.
The agricultural resources of this county are confined to the valleys of the San Pedro and the Babocomari. The former stream rises in Sonora and flows through Cachise and Pinal counties into the Gila. The valley of the San Pedro, in its upper course, is sometimes a mile in width, and the soil is of an excellent quality, capable of raising all kinds of grain and vegetables. That portion of the valley near the line of Sonora is claimed by a "grant," and is devoted entirely to grazing. No figures have been received as to the number of acres under cultivation and the grain yield of this county.
This county, which embraces the upper valley of the Gila, contains a large body of fine farming land, with plenty of water for irrigation. The Pueblo Viejo valley, which supported a dense population in times past, is yet rich and productive, yielding large crops of corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa, and vegetables. It is estimated there are 10,000 acres under cultivation in Graham. Large tracts, now lying idle, can be made productive by extending the present irrigating canals. The soil of this portion of the Gila valley is similar to that near Florence. Fruits of all kinds do well in this region, and no finer potatoes are raised in the Territory. The first settlements were made in this valley in 1872, and at the present time it is, next to Salt river, the largest producer of cereals in Arizona. There is here an opportunity to secure a comfortable home in a fine climate, and near to a profitable market.
This county has some good land along the Little Colorado and its upper tributaries. From Springerville to Brigham City, the valley has been brought under cultivation wherever water can be obtained. Several Mormon colonies have settled in this region, and have raised good crops of corn, wheat, and barley, besides fine vegetables. This part of Arizona is prolific in its growth of wild flax. This fact arrested the attention of the Spanish explorers, who called the stream Rio de Lena, or Flax river. No effort has been made to cultivate this fiber, but it is believed it will yet become an important branch of industry.
Very little farming is done in this county. With the exception of a few gardens along Pinal creek, and a narrow strip on Salt river, there is no land within its limits—if we except the San Carlos Indian reservation—which has sufficient water to
These two counties embrace the great Colorado valley, which contains thousands of acres of the richest soil in the United States. Owing to its yearly overflow, the valley is covered with a coating of vegetable mold, which constantly enriches the soil. Vegetation is very rapid in this valley. Weeds, grasses, and wild hemp attain an amazing height in a few weeks after the waters have receded. In fact, everything grows in tropical luxuriance. If kept from overflow, no better soil for cotton, sugar, hemp, and semi-tropical fruits is found on the continent. In some places the bluffs come down to the stream, and at other points the valley is from one to five miles wide. Below Ehrenberg, the area of valley land is much greater than above. To bring the waters of the Colorado by canals over its rich valley and prevent the river from overflowing, would no doubt be an expensive undertaking, but the hundreds of thousands of acres of magnificent land which would thus be reclaimed are a prize worth striving to gain. A company has been formed for the raising of hemp and sugarcane, which has already begun operations in the valley below the town of Yuma; but with the exception of small patches cultivated by the Indians, the rich valley of the Colorado is still virgin soil. Between the junction of the Gila and the Colorado, there is a tract of very rich bottom, by some estimated at 30,000 acres, all of which could be brought under cultivation at a moderate cost. The two largest streams of the territory, flowing on either side, would give an inexhaustible water supply, and the configuration of the ground is such that it can be easily irrigated. There are several fine ranches along the valley of the Gila, in Yuma county, which yield good crops of grain and vegetables. The total number of acres under cultivation in the county is about 2,500. The valley of the Colorado, in Mohave county, presents the same features as in Yuma, but is not so extensive. The soil is equally as rich and productive, but it requires capital to open canals, throw up embankments, and put the land in a condition for successful cultivation. At present farming in Mohave is confined to the Big Sandy, in the southern part of the county, where there are about 1,000 acres under cultivation, producing fine crops of grain, vegetables and fruit.
From this brief summary, it will be seen that successful farming in Arizona depends entirely on irrigation. No finer crops are raised in any county than in this Territory, where water can be had. There are thousands of acres of productive land in the leading valleys, which can be made available by a proper distribution of the present water supply. While the wealth of Arizona is in its mines, agriculture will always be a profitable calling, and the products of the soil command a good price. There is no land more prolific, no climate more equable, and no
Within the last few years, cattle raising has become an important industry in Arizona. The fine grasses and the delightful climate make this region the very paradise of the stock grower. All the year round the rich grasses cover mountain, valley, and mesa. Situated between the extremes of temperature, subject neither to the fierce "northers" of the South-west, nor the heavy snows of more northern latitudes; requiring no expensive outlay for the protection of stock in winter, and with a range which is only limited by the boundaries of the Territory, there is no portion of the United States which presents a finer field for the successful prosecution of this industry than the Territory of Arizona. Prior to the year 1874, the business was attended with many difficulties and dangers. The marauding Apache was always ready to swoop down on the flocks and herds of the settler, and the industry was confined to the immediate vicinity of towns and military posts. Since the "disturbing element" has been placed on reservations, stock growing has made rapid strides, and large bands of cattle and sheep are found in all portions of the Territory. No finer beef is raised in the United States than is produced in Arizona. The rich gramma grass which covers its valleys and hills, is unexcelled for its fattening qualities, and the sweetness and flavor which it imparts.
As with agriculture, the sinking of artesian wells will be of great benefit to the stock interests. There are millions of acres of fine grazing land now lying idle which could be made to sustain thousands of cattle if water could be had. That flowing water can be found in these valleys is almost certain. Surrounded as they are by lofty mountains, and forming natural reservoirs for the moisture which falls upon them, they offer every encouragement for the sinking of wells, and give almost certain guaranties of producing an abundant supply. Hitherto no effort has been made in this direction, owing mainly to the fact that the grazing lands adjacent to the streams and living springs have furnished an abundant supply for the stock already in the Territory. Besides the home market, which is steadily increasing, the building of two transcontinental railways opens to the stockmen of the Territory the marts of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and of Europe. Beef is shipped from the northern Territories to England, at a good profit, and there is no reason why Arizona should not be able in a short time to
What has been said of cattle will also apply to sheep. The mutton from Arizona grasses is noted for its fine flavor and tenderness. The wool is of a prime quality, commanding the highest price paid for the Pacific coast product. A superior breed has been introduced within the past three years, and the yield has correspondingly increased. The high rates of freight have been the great drawbacks to successful sheep raising, but the railroads have done away with all this, and the sheep industry of Arizona is one of the most lucrative branches of business in the Territory. All over Northern Arizona the short sweet grasses that grow on the mesas and mountain sides make an excellent feed for the animal, and in many of the valleys, the alfileria, or wild clover, has been introduced by sheep driven from California, and is attaining a strong and thrifty growth. Sheep are sheared twice a year, the average yield per head being about six pounds. The grazing grounds of Yavapai county are among the richest in the Territory. The snowfall of winter and the rains of summer cover the whole region with a heavy growth of fine, nutritious grasses, which keep stock in prime condition. The whole of the Great Colorado plateau, in Yavapai and Apache counties, affords one of the very best stock ranges to be found in the western country. The great table lands and spurs of the San Francisco, Sierra Blanco, and Mogollon ranges, are at all times covered with a heavy growth of gramma and other grasses, while the climate is especially salubrious, being removed from the oppressive heats of summer and the heavy snow storms of winter.
Pima county has large tracts of excellent grazing land along the Santa Cruz, and in the rolling, grassy country south and east of Tucson. Large herds of cattle cover these plains and hillsides, and keep in prime condition at all seasons. This county is also an excellent sheep range, and ships large quantities of wool. The building of the Southern Pacific railroad has opened new markets for the beef and wool of Southern Arizona, and the number of stock is increasing rapidly. Cachise county, formerly a part of Pima, has extensive ranges in the San Simon, Sulphur Spring, and San Pedro valleys. Although no data have been received from this county, it is known that it contains a large number of sheep and horned cattle.
To describe fully in detail all the ranges in the Territory would require much more space than can be given in a compilation of this nature. Speaking in general terms, it can be truly said that there is no better grazing region west of the Rocky mountains than Arizona; and while the want of water prevents many portions of the country from being occupied, there is yet room for thousands of cattle and sheep where water is abundant, where animals keep fat winter and summer, where the climate is all that could be desired, where disease is unknown, and where an energetic man with a small capital, who understands the business, can make himself independent in a few years.
Below is a statement of the number of cattle and sheep in the several counties at the present time. No figures have been received from Gila or Cachise, and consequently we are unable to give the number in these counties:
Besides cattle and sheep, Graham county has 2,500 head of horses and mules; Pima has 2,000 head of horses and 500 head of mules; Maricopa has 1,000 head of horses, about 500 head of mules, and over 4,000 hogs. The extensive alfalfa fields of this county afford excellent feed for hogs, the business is being gone into on a large scale, and home-made bacon, equal to the best California, is put up in the Salt-river valley. Yuma county has about 1,500 head of horses and mules; Mohave county has 600 head of horses, and 150 head of mules; Yavapai county has 3,815 head of horses, 627 head of mules, and 1,500 head of goats; many of the latter are pure-blood Angoras, and appear to do excellently well in this climate.
The live stock throughout the Territory is being steadily increased and improved by the importation of pure breeds, and in a few years we may expect to see the immense stretches of grass lands, now unoccupied, covered with thousands of cattle horses, and sheep.