Yuma is rich in history centered on the Colorado River. Long before the dams were built on the Colorado, crossing was,at best,difficult and dangerous.The river’s course would change from season to season and in the floodplains, the river would often spread across 15 miles, forming back channels and pockets of quicksand.
Nature, however, placed two large granite outcroppings near what would later be Yuma that squeezed the river into a narrower channel. Just downstream was the easiest and safest place to cross — what is today known as theYuma Crossing.That crossing shaped the history of our community and our nation.
It was that crossing that attracted Native Americans and later Europeans to the area. It was that crossing that opened the West Coast and positioned Yuma as a bustling river town.
In 1849,Yuma’s rope ferry provided a river crossing for more than 60,000 Forty-Niners in search of gold in California. Between 1850 and the late 1880s, Yuma hosted the Colorado steamboat industry.During that time,the river was navigable from the Gulf of California to the Grand Canyon – a 500-mile stretch. The sandbars and quicksand required boats to be shallow-driven and wide,and the steamboat fit the bill.
In the 1860s, gold and silver were discovered along the Colorado, bringing thousands through Yuma to make their claims. In 1864 the U.S. government established Yuma Quartermaster Depot to supply all the Army posts with clothing, food, ammunition and other goods. Goods were brought into Yuma by steamboat and shipped out on steamboat or 20-mule teams.
In 1877,the first locomotive came to Yuma on tracks built at the Yuma Crossing. It signaled the end of the steamboat days, and when the Laguna Dam was built in 1909, the steamboats were dealt their final blow.The railroad prevailed and today nearly 50 trains pass through Yuma daily.In 1915,the first roadway span over the lower Colorado River was opened and called the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge. A group of enterprising Yuma business people got together and raised $100 to erect the sign you see on the bridge today. In the 1980s the bridge was closed for structural reasons,but in 2002 the City of Yuma and the Quechan Indian Tribe joined forces to restore the bridge and reconnect the communities.
We invite you to explore this rich history at any or all of the historical
sites available in or near Yuma. COLORADO RIVER STATE HISTORIC PARK 201 N 4th Ave. 928-783-4771 www.azstateparks.com/ parks/YUQU
Hours: Open 9-5 p.m. seven days a week.
Admission: $6 for adults, $3 for children 7 to 13.
The Yuma Quartermaster Depot was used by the U.S.Army to store and distribute supplies for all the 19th century military posts in Arizona, plus some in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas. Five of the original depot buildings remain on the park grounds, and four of these buildings contain exhibits that cover both the military history of the site and the history of the Bureau of Reclamation’s construction of major irrigation works in the Yuma area during the early 1900s.
YUMA TERRITORIAL PRISON HISTORIC PARK
Giss Parkway and Prison Hill Road 928-783-4771 www.azstateparks.com/parksYUTE
Hours: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week
Admission: $8 for adults, $4 for children 7 to 13 and $3 for active military personnel.
The Yuma Territorial Prison housed prisoners from 1876 until 1909,housing 3,069 prisoners,including 29 women.After its closure it became the temporary site of Yuma High School.
PIVOT POINT INTERPRETIVE PLAZA Madison Avenue at Colorado River www.yumaheritage.com
The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area partnership tells the story of the Yuma Crossing with an interpretive plaza located at the Pivot Point Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn Yuma/Pivot Point property.
SANGUINETTI HOUSE MUSEUM AND GARDENS
240 S. Madison Ave. 928-782-1841 www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org.
Hours:10 a.m.to 3 p.m.Tuesday-Saturday
Admission: General admission $6, Seniors $5
Visit the charming 19th century adobe home of E. F. Sanguinetti,Yuma’s pioneer merchant, and enjoy a cup of tea. Surrounded by lush gardens,his home is now an Arizona Historical Society museum chronicling Sanguinetti’s life as a civic-minded businessman who forever changed the community he loved.Treat yourself to a delightfully decadent sweet from the Sanguinetti Chocolate Shoppe, too.
THE COCOPAH MUSEUM
County 15th Street & Avenue G www.cocopahrv.com/tribe/museum
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday/ Exhibit hours 9 a.m.to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free but donations are appreciated
This museum is a reorganized federal repository of objects and depictions of Cocopah history and culture.Museum guests will see examples of traditional clothing,such as bark skirts and leather sandals, beadwork, baskets woven of arrowweed, pottery, traditional tattoo designs,musical instruments and the Cocopah warriors’ display.
MUSEUM OF HISTORY IN GRANITE
Take Interstate 8 to Exit 164, follow signs to the north. 760-572-0100 www.historyingranite.com
A unique attraction, the museum captures the history of humanity and other subjects on huge granite monuments.
CASTLE DOME MINES
Highway 95 to Castle Dome Road (Mile Marker 55) 928-920-3062
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. till April 15
Admission: $15 adults, $7 kids 7 to 11, free for children 6 and under
A boom town during the Colorado River mining era, Castle Dome City is now memorialized at Castle Dome Mines Museum.
Now open is the Hull Mine.Visitors take a tour 600 feet into the mine, where they will be treated to a beautiful multicolored visual display as a blacklight is shone on the mine’s walls.
Tours will be given for adults and children 8 and older accompanied by adults.Tours are $75 per person.For tour reservations, call 928-920-3062.
1398 York Road, Bard, Calif. Take 4th Avenue across the Colorado River, turn right on S-24, follow the signs to Imperial Dam. 760-572-0188 www.cloudmuseum.dynamitedave. com
Hours: Call ahead
Check out more than 115 vintage vehicles, including 75 Model T Fords.
When it opened in 1915, the Oceanto-Ocean Bridge was the first and only vehicular traffic bridge over the lower Colorado River. One of the earliest and longest trusses in Arizona, it is still in use today as a link between the city of Yuma and Fort Yuma.
YUMA PROVING GROUND HERITAGE CENTER
Yuma Proving Ground Highway 95, north of Yuma 928-328-3394 www.yuma.army.mil/garrison Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,Tuesday-Friday Admission: Free
The public is invited to visit the Heritage Center to learn more about the history of the Army as well as YPG’s role in the nation’s defense.
ST. THOMAS INDIAN MISSION Located on Indian Hill near the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge
Still in use today,the St.Thomas Indian Mission is a replica of the mission founded by Spanish missionary Francisco Garces in 1780 and destroyed in 1855 in an Indian uprising.
LUTES’ GRETNA GREEN WEDDING CHAPEL
500 W. 1st St.
Owned by the Lutes family, the chapel has been the setting for weddings since the
Lutes, justice of the peace in Yuma for four terms beginning in 1941, married thousands of people, among them celebrities and otherwise prominent figures such as Tom Mix, Paul Kelly, Constance Bennett, Gilbert Roland, Franchot Tone,Victor Mature, Joe Louis and Stan Laurel.
The site of the first airplane landing in Arizona on Oct.25,1911,is highlighted with a historic marker in front of the Yuma Landing Restaurant, 195 S. 4th Ave.
CITY OF YUMA AIRPLANE
An Aeronca Sedan AC-15 that set a world record in 1949 for the longest nonstop flight – 47 days – is on display in Yuma City Hall, One City Plaza, and can be seen during regular hours,7 a.m.to 6 p.m.Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.every other Friday.