National Geographic : 1900 Sep
THE COLORADO DESERT states through Texas and New Mexico along the Gila River trail into southern California, and these parties, pushing from the Colorado across the awful desert that separated them from the fertile lands of the coast, when midway on their course unexpectedly found them selves on the banks of a strong, turgid stream, which was not flowing toward the sea, but sweeping strangely northward into the interior. It was the sudden and dramatic resumption of the old Colorado in undations. They called it the " New River." Lieutenant Wilkinson, writing soon afterward in the Pacific Railroad Reports, says of this phenomenon of 1849: " In that year the Colorado River was very high, and broke over a part of its banks between the mouth of the Gila and the head of the gulf. The waters flowed inland, running backward through the desert toward the center of the ancient lake. . . . The appearance of the stream was a subject of general surprise and wonder, and was an unexpected relief to the many emigrant parties crossing the desert that year. It is the general belief that this overflow was the first recent instance of the kind, but it had evidently often taken place long before, and there are many reasons for believing that it once flowed in a larger and stronger stream than it has since its existence became known." * Since 1849 the overflow of the Colorado River has been frequent, and since 1890 uninterrupted every summer. By most dwellers in southern California this overflow is well understood, but very few are aware of the circuitous and remarkable route by which the water of the Colorado, through New River, reaches Salton Sea. High water in the Colorado comes in the months of May and June, and the break in the upbuilt banks of the river occurs 10 or 12 miles below the Mexican boundary line, near Algodones, an old Yuma Indian village, where now is a Mexican hamlet and a station for several customs officers. From near the point where the break occurs a comparatively small current, the East or Alamo River, cuts its channel westward for about 30 miles, and then turns northwesterly into the United States, and on its way to the Salton Sea fills a large depression known as Mesquite Lake. The greater part of the overflow, however, takes another direction, and sweeps southwesterly almost entirely across the lower part of the desert until it meets the slope of the Cocopah Mountains. Here it creates a long, shallow body of water, called Volcano Lake. This point is the divide, where .the desert slopes northward into the United States and southward to the gulf, and from this lake the *Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. v; "Geological Report," by Wm. P. Blake, Washington, 1857, p. 100.