National Geographic : 1900 Sep
THE COLORADO DESERT the spring being the main reliance of desert travelers. The river, however, passes directly through the lake, and the loads of sediment which it deposits at every checking of its course are gradually filling up Cameron Lake and making it less reliable. But even after the great summer inundation of the desert has sub sided and Volcano Lake has become exhausted, the Hardy continues to be fed from the break in the Colorado through the Rio Padrones, and throughout the year its channel contains water. In summer and until late in the fall its current is from 100 to 200 yards wide and 20 to 25 feet deep, with a flow of at least two miles an hour in the center of the stream. Below the Sierra Madre it turns eastward, and joins the main channel of the Colorado again just above the gulf. At times of very high water a curious result occurs. Westward of the Cocopah Mountains lies a great depressed plain, lower than the Cocopah Valley, lower than the sea, the desert of the Laguna Maquata or Salada. Like the Colorado, it was lately an arm of the ocean. At the southern end of the Cocopah Mountains the Hardy sometimes overflows and sends a current around the foot of the range and northward into this low region, creating the Laguna Maquata. This desert of the Laguna Maquata is a desperately arid and forsaken country, almost without water, except during these occasional backsets of the Hardy. The main lines of travel-the old San Diego road through Jacumba Pass and the Warner's Ranch stage road by way of San Felipe and Carriso Creek-meet on their way to Yuma at Laguna Station, pass by Indian Wells and Cameron Lake, and a few miles further on turn southward into Mexico and follow the Alamo wash to the Colorado River and Yuma. Scores of traveling teams continue to cross the desert each year along these old emigrant and government roads. The lower portion of the Colorado Desert, however, which lies in the Mexican Territory of Lower California and which extends from the boundary line to the gulf, is far less known and is, in fact, visited by few Americans or Mexicans. It is known as the Hardy River coun try or the Cocopah country, from the Indians whose rancherias lie along the Hardy Valley and the Lower Colorado. We visited this interesting country in August, 1899. The overflow had been of unusual amount and of more than ordinary duration. New River was still a swift, roily stream that defied crossing with wagons. All night, in order to avoid the heat of the day, we had been pushing our mule teams across the sandy plains and rough mesas that make up those portions of the desert between the Sierra and the rich, level, fluviatile deposits of the central depression.