March 28, 2023


Anything but ordinary

Yuma Arizona and Beyond

Yuma Arizona and Beyond

Old Yuma located along main street was doomed from the beginning due to the flooding of the Colorado River turning the building’s back into mud from which they were made. Today most of main street consists of buildings dating back to the 1920’s. However, during the town’s early days in 1849 more the 60,000 people used this route to cross the Colorado River on the rope ferry in search of gold in California. Today visitors will find a wide variety of shopping, entertainment, and dinning along main street as well as the Historic Yuma Theater built-in 1911, now the centerpiece of the Yuma Art Center and the home and gardens of E. F Sanguinetti, one of Yuma’s business pioneers.

The Colorado River Historic State Park in Yuma maintains some important history of our early military days. Beginning in 1864 the Yuma Quartermaster Depot served as a lifeline for the Southwest military forts, where a six-month supply of ammunition, clothing, food, and other goods were stored. The goods came up river from the Gulf of California on steamboats and shipped overland by mule teams or shipped farther upriver. In 1877 with the coming of the railroad, the depots fate faded away. However, when the army closed the depot, the location was used by Engineering pioneers to tame the river building dams to create power and a water supply vital for the community’s survival. Today five of the original buildings still stand and are among the oldest and best-preserved in the State of Arizona. Right next to the park is the Yuma Siphon built-in 1912, a massive tunnel under the Colorado River used to delivery irrigation water to the Yuma valley, which is still in operation.

Forced ventilation, electricity, sanitation including bathtubs and showers, even a library was more amenities than most Yuma homes had and residents called it “The Country Club on the Colorado”. On the other hand, the insufferable heat made this place feel like an inferno where an inhuman snake den was carved into the granite walls and ball and chain was routine punishment made this place impossible to endure and being surrounded by rivers, quicksand, and desert made it impossible to escape. Prisoners feared and loathed this place and called it a pure “Hell Hole”. The Yuma Territorial Prison only lasted 33 years, but over this time, it built a fearsome reputation into the history of the Old West. From 1876 when it opened to 1907 when it shut the doors the prison housed over 3,000 inmates where most of the cell blocks were carved into the granite by their own hands. Although no executions were performed at the prison, 111 inmates died while serving time and are buried on the prison grounds.

No trip to Yuma is complete without visiting the town of Los Algodones in nearby Mexico, which is a friendly community located in Baja California at the Arizona and California boarder. Recognized by the American Government as a safe community for tourist, crossing the border is simple, drive or walk. Walking is by far the best choice, this way there is no worries about finding a place to park. Just across the border within four blocks is where all the businesses are located. The community offers a large selection of dentists, pharmacies, and optical dispensaries which the snow birds and seniors take advantage of at a large cost savings. In addition, the streets are lined with curio shops and open-air cafe’s.

About 40 miles Northeast of Yuma with the last seven miles being an unpaved road is the Castle Domes Mine Museum, and with over fifty weather-beaten buildings leaves one with the impression of finding a lost city. The museum contains three different sections where the largest part is where all the buildings were moved to a central location. A short walk through the desert is a few buildings from the 1970 era. A half-mile stroll leads past mine shafts and buildings siting on their original construction site. In 1878 Castle Dome stood larger than Yuma and little has changed from the 1800’s other than everything stands still and quiet. The details in most buildings remain intact allowing for one to experience what the Wild West in the 1800’s was really like. With the last miners leaving Castle Dome around 1979 made this location the longest worked mine in the state of Arizona.