Thursday, November 24, 2011

Historical Yuma, Arizona

My wish is that all our readers had a blessed Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgiving started last evening at Faith Lutheran church in Yuma, which held an ecumenical service. Today our park (where we are now sitting) had a turkey dinner for all the residents. Earlier today John and I took a walk through the older part of Yuma. The Colorado River runs through the town, and  provides the border between Arizona and California. The river once was made up of a lot of marshland and quicksand. In the past it was possible to cross the river at only one point where it was narrow and had large granite outcroppings. That crossing point is what is now Yuma. In 1915 the Ocean to Ocean Bridge was built, our nation's first transcontinental highway. It is the only point where the Colorado River may be crossed for 1300 miles along the river.
John and I walked across the bridge to where the Quechan Indian Reservation is located. Right after the bridge is St. Thomas Indian Mission, which was built in 1922. A priest of the mission was killed there in 1781. The Native Indians had become angry with the presence of the Spanish settlers and their broken promises to the natives. They revolted and killed many of the Europeans, including the priests. The mission was burned down and later rebuilt. Over the ensuing years the Native Indians lost a lot of their original land and now live on a small reservation around the mission.
 Driving further into the reservation we saw large lettuce fields. The Yuma area is famous for its large winter harvest of lettuce, as well as other produce. In the fields surrounding where we are currently parked there are citrus and date orchards. Sunkist as well as Dole have plants in Yuma. Damming the Colorado River has made Yuma into the large agricultural area which it has become today. It is strange to see large green fields with water standing in them next to barren desert land.

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