Yuma Sun - Visiting In Yuma



1 Yuma sits near the end of the 1,400mile long Colorado River, which defines the border between Arizona and California.

2 Back in the day,before the river was dammed, its flow was unpredicta­ble and uncontroll­ed – and at times, spread across nearly 15 miles. But at the spot where Yuma now sits, two granite outcroppin­gs held the wild waters in check.That’s whyYuma has long been the place to cross the Colorado – not just for decades, but for centuries.

3 Because of that geology,Indian trade routes converged here and Spanish explorers first visited the Yuma area as early as 1540 – about 80 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachuse­tts. In 1849,nearly 60,000 fortune seekers on their way to the California passed through Yuma; in 1877, the first railroad bridge across the Colorado was built here; in 1915,the first transconti­nental highway spanned the river on the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge); in the 1930s, thousands of “Okies” fleeing the desperatio­n of the Dust Bowl traveled through, drawn by the promise of California.

4 Before the Colorado River was dammed, ships would sail up the river from the Gulf of California and unload supplies atYuma.At one time,the Quartermas­ter Depot at Yuma supplied U.S.Army forts throughout the Southwest and steamboats were common on the river.You can revisit this era at the Yuma Crossing State Historic Park, which also details the engineerin­g marvel accomplish­ed in 1912, when irrigation was extended to the Yuma Valley by means of a tunnel dug under the Colorado River. 5

Between 1876 and 1909, the Yuma Territoria­l Prison housed many of Arizona’s most dangerous and notorious criminals. Now the remaining cellblock, main gate and guard tower – as features of the Yuma Territoria­l Prison State Historic Park – draw more visitors than any other historic state park.

6 So far as we know,Yuma High School is the only school anywhere to have, as its mascot, a Criminal. But there is a proud history behind this: Yuma High, establishe­d in 1909,met at the site of the territoria­l prison from 1910 to 1912, with classes held in the cell blocks and assemblies in the old prison hospital.In 1913,the school moved to a newly constructe­d building that’s still in use today.The same year,theYuma High football team traveled to Phoenix to play – and won in the last seconds.A Phoenix sports reporter overheard a lady say:“It was just criminal the way they stole that game.”The next day,the headline read:“Yuma High Criminals Steal Game.” The Yumans eventually decided to turn the tables by wearing their unusual name – and history – with pride.The mascot name was officially adopted in 1917, and Yuma High students have been Criminals ever since.

7 Yuma is home to one of the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalting plants. Built by the Bureau of Reclamatio­n to ensure that the United States could meet treaty obligation­s for water delivery to Mexico,theYuma Desalting Plant can produce about 275 million liters (72.4 million gallons) of desalted water per day. However, though the plant was completed in 1992,it has never run at full capacity.

8 Yuma is the winter lettuce capital of the world. If you eat a salad anywhere in the United States during the winter months, chances are the greens grew in Yuma.Yuma’s winter produce production is the main reason that the state of Arizona ranks second in the U.S. in production of head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, cauliflowe­r and broccoli.

9 Moviemaker­s first discovered Yuma as a film location in 1913, and movies have been made here in every decade since. Favorites include “Star Wars” and“Spaceballs”; more recent features include “Into the Wild,”“The Scorpion King” and “Jarhead.”

10 Although Yuma’s full-time population is now growing through all the months of the year, we’re still known for the surge in the number of winter visitors.A lesser-known fact – and something of a mystery to the Arizonans who flee summer’s heat to Pacific beaches – hundreds of San Diegans reverse the flow by coming here in the summer to boat and enjoy the Colorado River.

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