National Geographic : 1910 Aug
VOL. XXI, No. 8 WASHINGTON AUGUST, 1910 N ATONAL GYM D AlAIM DG THE SOUTHWEST Its Splendid Natural Resources, Agricultural Wealth, and Scenic Beauty BY N. H. DARTON, OF THE U. S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY THE southwestern section of the United States is a province that presents many special characteris tics of physiography, climate, resources, and capabilities which are not as well known as they deserve to be. The term "Southwest" is usually applied to New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Califor nia, an area of about the size of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Virginias. Much public attention has of late been attracted to Arizona and New Mexico in connec tion with their admission to statehood, and one gratifying result of this has been a greatly increased interest in their re sources and conditions. Excluding the populous and thrifty coast region of southern California, the Southwest is the most thinly populated and least developed portion of the coun try south of Alaska. As this condition is due mainly to a climate so arid that but little can be raised without irriga tion, its future development is to be measured by the utilization of the vast volume of flood waters now going to waste. This water can be applied to millions of acres of level lands with rich soil, which with the unending sunshine of its mild climate will respond with large and profitable crops. Unfortunately, there is not enough water for all the land, but there is suffi cient, if all were utilized, to support a population many times as large as the present one. The Government is now spending $12,000,ooo in reclamation projects in Arizona and New Mexico, which will supply water for nearly one half million acres of fertile lands. This will give great impetus to development, and in time, when settlers take up the reclaimed land, there will be a large in crease in its agricultural productions. In the great coast region of southern California, with a population of nearly 600,000, the principal product is the orange and other fruits, with a value of about $20,000,000 a year, while in the inland districts the mining industry is the largest source of revenue. Portions of the Southwest are richly productive of various minerals, notably those of copper, and recently southern California has become a heavy producer of petro leum. The value of the copper, oil, and other products of the ground aggregates about $75,000,000 a year. It is probable that further exploration will disclose large additional supplies of ores of various kinds, especially those of low grade, which will prove profitable under improved methods of reduction.