Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yuma Arizona, A Bonus Report

A Bonus Report
Yuma AZ

One last short report before settling in for the winter.  I had never been to Yuma AZ before.  It being on the very south western tip of Arizona, California and Mexico. I was surprised to see a vibrant city of 70,000 surrounded by flood irrigated fields on both the California and Arizona side.  Many fields of lettuce were being grown during the winter growing season.  Palm trees dotting the boarders of many fields and surrounding farm houses.   Finally only a trickle of water remaining in the Colorado River as it passes into Mexico.

Yuma has a couple of museums to check out and I concentrated on the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. One of the many Arizona State Parks currently being run by local funding and local volunteers during the many cut backs in State funding.  A very interesting site to learn about the people who were imprisoned here and what their crime was that got them here.  It eventually became the local High school and later housed many poor during the great depression.

For me the highlight of the area was learning about the Old Plank Road created over the Imperial sand dunes between Yuma and San Diego CA.  This was a brief period in our history back in the early 1900’s when cars were becoming a very popular means of transportation.  The sand dunes created a unique problem in that they couldn’t put down a solid road over the sand.  In 1915 they experimented with a design of two parallel planks for a model T to ride on.  The cars kept fall off the tracks.  In 1916 they finally got enough venture capital to build a solid wood planked road with turn outs for passing as it was only a single lane road.  The planks were built in sections and could be lifted and moved into place.

Barely a few days would go by and sand would cover portions of the road, causing delays and many accidents.  When vehicles came from opposite ends and met, one  of the vehicles would have to back up until they reached a turn out, before continuing forward.  Needless to say, there were many arguments of who that should be.  The plank road was rough and bouncy but many people would ride it to Gray’s Wells out in the middle of the desert for a picnic.  Just to experience the unique adventure of riding on a plank road.

Even though the road was only in use for 10 years, I still find it amazing how they persevered in finding a way to build a road across an ever shifting sand dunes.  Eventually a raised paved road would be built to replace it.  To be able to view a portion of the original road created during a dynamic era in our history is a great way to experience history as it almost seems to come alive in front of me.

Each one of these discoveries along the byways and highways teaches me more about how we got to where we are today.  With wonders of what could come our way in the future.

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