National Geographic : 1897 Jul
THE FORESTS AND DESERTS OF ARIZONA that falls over the vast region fills the water-courses, where there are any, for only a few hours, after which what is not evaporated sinks into the loose sand and the river continues underground, the bed above " running dry." Yet, as to the possibility of finding enough water to irrigate the most of it, who will foretell? There are really only two rivers which run always full-the Colorado and the Gila. While Gila river and its affluents, the San Pedro, Salt, and Hassayampa, which run dry occasionally, furnish only a limited quantity, the mighty Colorado river car ries a volume of water not only six times as rich in fertility as that of the Nile, but of almost limitless and continuous supply, which would suffice to irrigate several million acres. To be sure, the bed lies considerably below the level of the plain, yet when the economic conditions of the country require it, there will be no difficulty in devising the mechanical means to bring this water upon the land, as is being done now in a small way at Yuma. And, with the addition of artesian wells, perhaps it may only be a question of time when these dreary wastes will be turned into fertile fields and gardens such as are beginning to grow up around Phoenix, Yuma, and other cities-a revival of bygone times when an ancient and industrious people occupied the Gila bottom lands, of whose existence now only the ruins of long-fallen towns, the remnants of large aqueducts, and widely distributed fragments of pottery testify. Phoenix, the capital, already boasts of being a garden spot, all owing to the exten sive irrigation canal system which derives its waters from Salt river, and certainly the green alfalfa fields and extensive or chards of peach and almond, olive and pomegranate, are a most pleasing contrast to the surrounding cheerless brush desert. The city, embowered in the tropic foliage of palms and pepper trees, with its luxurious hotels, is bound to become-nay, has already become-a Mecca of the seeker after a mild winter cli mate and relief from pulmonary complaints. While its sum mer temperatures may be said to lack nothing in generosity, for eight months in the year the climate is said to be perfect. The eastern mountain region is mainly a pasturing region; the valleys are clothed with hardy grass and stunted acacias, while the mountains, when over 6,000 feet high and massive enough to induce precipitation, are wooded; the drier exposures and lower altitudes support an open growth of stubby live-oaks, the trees varying in height from 12 to rarely over 25 feet, which in the distance have the appearance of an old apple orchard.