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PACKET THREE OF POUCH THREE
RIVER IN THE DESERT PACKET
PUBLISHED FOUR TIMES A YEAR
Only Newspaper in America you can open in the wind
Page 2 DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK
This paper is not entered as 2nd class mail. It's a first class newspaper.
Packet Three of Pouch Three
Published at Fort Oliver
1000 Palms, California
Four Times a Year
ON THE NEWS STANDS 10¢ A COPY
But sometimes they don't have them.
ONE YEAR BY MAIL — 4 COPIES 50¢
Darned if I am going to the trouble of mailing it for nothing.
10 Years ................... $5.00
100 Years ...................$50.00
Something to think about!
Asbestos editions will be forwarded
in case you don't make it.
H A R R Y O L I V E R
Pictures are by the author, many of them are woodcuts.
I Did All but the Spelling.
A paper that grows on you as you as you turn each page . . . excepting page 5
HARRY—You old Desert Rat, here is a high wind story that tops the one where the wind blew the store fourteen miles away and came back the following day for the lids.
I was out toward Searchlight, Nevada, one day, and saw a chicken with its tail toward the wind, lay the same egg five times. If that isn't a high wind, I'll take my hat off to your yarn.
Your Apprentice Desert Rat Friend, Austin Cranston
Editor's Note—Son, after that you're not an apprentice.
Readers ask me how's the paper doing? Meaning of course, is The Desert Rat Scrap Book a success Now as I see it there is more than one fair way to live, so there is more than one kind of success.
Judging the Desert Rat Scrap Book by what it is, not by what other papers make, or try to, I think as a one-man operation I have a peacheroo, my readers and writers make it that way. You have sent my little publication pirouting along the trail; it may not have arrived as yet but it's traveling hopefully, trail-broke and happy.
Over 70 per cent of my readers send in a new subscripton (sometimes 10) along with their renewal. Must be the sunshine in it or maybe the price of it.
Fifteen thousand of the last packet were sold, one-half of them in small desert towns — to Real Desert Rats — 3070 sent to subscribers east of the Mississippi — 50 to a dealer in London, England (my only wholesale account outside the U. S.) — 67 subscribers in Australia, 361 subscibers in Canada, subscribers in Mexico, Alaska, Philippines, Afghanistan, Hawaii, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ireland, Germany, Egypt, the Union of South Africa and only one in China.
Fun, sure it's a lot of fun. Just a little piece of wrapping paper folded three times, and my readers seem to value them and send for back packets. Wish I had more back copies.
I am not going to let my list get much bigger. When I have to have help, or pay income tax, I am not going to take any more subscribers. Why should I? Takes me a week and a half to address and wrap this many.
Genius, is getting everybody to help you. . . . I have been told the Death Valley Packet was a work of genius.
Irvin Cobb says a good story teller is one who has a good memory and hopes no one else has.
See Cobb Story — Page 4
And in the old days a bad man would go around with notches in his gun handle instead of dents in his fenders.
Next packet is going to have a lot of lost mine and buried treasure stuff in it.
It certainly pays to advertise. There are twenty-six mountains in Colorado higher than Pike's Peak.
Your Editor receives some nasty squawks . . . but somehow cheerfulness always breaks in . . . someday maybe I'll make it.
Nobody Ever Drowned Himself In Sweat
When you've been here in the Desert a few years you find yourself talking to yourself. . . . After a few more years you find yourself talking to the lizards. . . . Then in another couple years you find the lizards talking to you. . . . When you find yourself stealing their amazing tales you are about ready to start a Desert paper.
(Get your Man)
They tell a story over at Blythe, about Desert Steve bringing in his man. During the prohibition days there were some bad hombres selling moonshine and the Sheriff called Steve over to Blythe to help his boys clean 'em up. In a week's time they rounded up eight of them, but number nine had a name for bein' tough. The deputies had called on him three or four times, always with three armed deputies, but he was too smart, and they never caught him with the goods. Steve had never seen the man but was determined to bring him in with the goods.
One day after a three day rain, Desert Steve in his big old Packard, was coming into Blythe, when he saw a fellow in a pickup truck, that had slid off the muddy road into two feet of water. Coming along side, Steve was meaning to help the unfortunate fellow out. "I'll pull you out, old timer," Steve said, as he got a cable out of the back seat. "That will be great," said the man in the mud. "Have a drink first; I got five gallons of good stuff in this truck." Desert Steve did some fast thinking, as he said, "Thanks, I will get you out first — and say, this road is bad all the way to town, and once I get going I had better keep going 'till we hit a good road."
A half hour later Desert Steve stopped in front of the Sheriff's office, and when he said "Come on in Mr. Number Nine," he had his old six shooter in his hand.
Man isn't so smart. Thousands of years before he began to have afternoon headaches from trying to think, the desert tortoise had a streamlined body, turret top, retractable landing gear, and a portable house.
How to be a Desert Rat
'Tis said of Rancho Mirage that every day's a holiday and every night is New Year's Eve.
Don Cameron's toast is, "Here's to the holidays — bless the whole three hundred and sixty-five of 'em!"
Once on a New Year's Eve (in the middle of July) I overheard Don Cameron telling a Johnny-come-lately just what it takes to be a real Desert Rat. First you have to be bitten by a sidewinder. Second you must have had a floater out of the biggest county in the world, namely San Bernadino. Third, you have to have holed for a spell with one of the Agua Caliente's squaws.
That's the makin's, says Don, just learn to lie and let your whiskers grow and you'll be a sure enough Desert Rat.
Packet 3 Page 3 Harry Oliver's DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK Page 3
How The Spaniards Came To Think
CALIFORNIA WAS AN ISLAND
I've got a lot of old maps in my Mañana store on the walls. And I had to put Borego on all of them. One is an old-timer about 1600; it shows California as an island. Gopher Joe sees it one day and says he knew all about it — a bartender in Ensenada told him the story.
Before they had a map of these parts a sporty crew of bulldozers come up the coast to find out what was there and maybe take home a boatload. Drake and Cap Cook was the hombres in charge and they come to the Gulf at Lower California, and then on into it, but they get discouraged seein' nothin' but turtles and pelicans — no towns, no houses, no Indians even. All they see is the land east of them. But one day they get blowed out a ways and see some land to the west and decide to have a look at it. Well, three days later they run into Ensenada and find the natives havin' a fiesta. So they tie up their boats and help them fee-est.
This fiesta was like green pastures to a burro, and they get into the spirit of it heart and soul. Cap Drake gets a swell Senorita in the quadrille and gets along with her like a burrowin' owl and a gopher. Cook don't do so well, maybe he ate too much garlic; anyway he wants to go up the coast and look for some nicer gals. Drake hates to do it right off, so they stay a week and then leave. If Cook had got a sweetie they'd still be there.
Well, they sail and row along and don't see anything of interest to a tourist till they get to Los Angeles. There they find only some of them low kind of Indians that eat grub worms and put a double meanin' to everythin' you say, so they leave pronto and go to 'Frisco and without knowin' it slip into the bay. They turn south in the bay and see water dead ahead.
"We're roundin' an island," says Cook.
"Yep," says Drake. "And it'll be farther to Ensenada if we keep headin' the way we come. I don't think we can make it with the tortillas and onions givin' out. Better tack for the south."
Cook agreed with Drake awful quick. So they turned back and hit for Ensenada.
Maybe it ain't in the history books, but it was the girls of Ensenada that made an island of California.
The Spanish Galleon At The Bottom
Of The Salton Sea
Ever since I wrote that story of Gopher Joe's about how they come to think California was an island, Joe's been hangin' around the Mañana store, layin' for my customers so's he can point to them maps of mine and show off the magazine with the story in print.
Now there ain't many that care one way or the other. Of course Gopher Joe believes California was an island like the bartender told him about.
Joe don't get an argument for three days till in comes Big Think Tim, and he's been thinkin' again. It's another one of them Big Thinks of his, and this is it. He wants to build five thousand islands and sell them. Build them to order. You can have bays, harbors, points, beaches, anything you want. He wants to get the north end of Salton Sea all tied up first, figurin' as how it's shallow there, then get in with a clam shell dredge, take four feet out of the bottom and pile it up to suit the island buyers.
I was just gettin' interested in the new islands when Joe hands Big Think the magazine and points to the old map showin' California as an island.
"Can't believe a thing them Ensenada bar-keeps tell you," says Big Think. "And besides I can prove it was an island. Ain't you seen the old shore line, and them fish traps that's all over the valley? It was an island. Why there's an old Spanish galleon in the Salton Sea today that was there before the Colorado filled up the old lake bottom in 1906. I saw her and can lay my hands on her."
"I don't believe you," says Joe. "I know that bartender and he wouldn't lie to me. He knows what them Ensenada girls is like. I'll bet you can't locate a boat."
So they bet ten dollars and start right them in Big's car over the new road. (The Doc Beatty Road).
It's about siesta time three days later when in comes the two of them excited-like and draggin' some old water-soaked junk with them, and there was no denyin' that stuff come from some old fashioned brig.
"We've got a great find," says Joe, "Something that will change the history and maps of California. Can we go the house and see them books of yourn tellin' about them old adventurers and discoverers?"
We all go to the house and Big Think takes out a piece of paper and starts spellin' out a name. "Got anything about him?" says Joe?
"Sure," says I, reachin' for a Blue Book. "Here on this page. Accordin' to this he's made some of the world's best and biggest pictures. C. B. de Mille."
"Yes" ... "Yes," was all they said.
A cowboy's "cussin'" is a part of his language, and he can supply words and phrases that any mule skinner would be happy to get a copy of. He ain't pickin' any grapes in the Lord's Vineyard, but neither's he tryin' to bust any Commandments when he cusses. It jest sets on his tongue as easy as a hoss-fly ridin' a mule's ear, and he can shore cram plenty o' grammer into it.
Trapdoor Lewis, Knows his bugs.
Trapdoor Lewis tells me a lot about spiders — such as the jeweled spiders and the golden web spinner — but most of all I like the spider that "melted." Old Lewis describes a spider that seems to melt away when touched — lycosa ramosa, the gray wolf spider, carrying her brood of young clustered over her back. When touched, the young scatter in all directions, leaving a very attenuated-looking mother, and giving a dramatic appearance of melting away. The species is common, living in holes in the ground, though it is not a trapdoor spider, says Lewis.
The Dry Lake Dude tells about the old rancher who died and concluded his will with the following: "And being of sound mind, I spent every damned cent that I had.
Is the DESERT an unusual place? It is not. A desert is frightfully commonplace. There is more desert than there is anything else in the universe. But not if you imply that desert is a place where nothing will grow.
"The trouble with whisky is that you take a drink and it makes a new man of you. Then he has to have a drink." Says S. E. Robinson of Imperial, Calif.
BUGS is BUGS
"Look here waitress," exclaimed the irate Palo Verde rancher, "there's a ladybug in my soup." The new waitress from Palm Springs fished the bug out and inspected it very closely. "By golly, you've got better eyes than I have."
OLD RIP-SNORTIN' says he was standing astraddle the Mexican-California line when that earthquake messed up those towns' names — Mexi-cali and Cale-xico.
Rip says, "Prohibition was better than no liquor at all."
What They Are Made Of
By Mrs. James Rose Harvey
From the Denver Post
When the Great Spirit of the Indians created the world, according to legend, he left in a canyon of the Rockies a pile of odds and ends of materials that went into his labors.
The daughter of a chief, chancing upon the heap, amused herself by putting the pieces together to form an odd little animal — brown trash for a body, chunks of coal for hoofs, and the fuzz from a cat-tail for hair.
As the Indian princess laughed at the queer creature she had fashioned — with its jackrabbit ears, its short legs and shaggy body — she saw a tear in its eye and in sudden compunction cried, "I'll make him beautiful inside!"
So she made his liver of garnets from the mountain streams, his lungs of crystal quartz, his heart of the beautiful blue turquoise; and the south wind, blowing down the canyon, breathed life into the animal and created the burro.
Thus the Indian gained a willing servant and a loyal friend, homely without, 'tis true, but beautiful within in his patient devotion to his master.
Of course this is much too simple an explanation about the burro's origin for the historian. In almost the first written records of the New World we find the burro playing the humble part of burden-bearer.
It was from Spain that he found his way into the New World. In 1493, when Columbus on his second voyage westward arrived at Hispaniola, the burro first set foot on American soil and found it good.
The burro was the valued assistant of Balboa, De Soto, Ponce de Leon, Pizarro, and the Franciscan fathers in the exploration and conquest of the New World. He was to play an equally important role in the settlement of the desert and Rocky Mountain Empire.
Dry Camp Blackie says the burro is the Jenny Lind of the desert.
DRY CAMP BLACKIE says it took six quarts of whiskey brefore he saw that sea-serpent, in the moonlight, at Salton Sea. Fact is, it was the night we had six moons.
Earthquakes & Horse Pants
As told by the Borego Storekeeper
It was about an hour and a half after the earthquake that Top Scratchin' Jake come into the store with jumping cactus in his hair and looking like he had just got out of bed, to leave it to a sidewinder.
"Camels," was the first thing he said.
"To smoke?" I asks.
No," says he, "going up Coyote Canyon; running like blue tail lizards — three of them."
We gave him a drink and he gets back to earth and then he goes on to tell us how years ago there were camels used to haul freight out of Yuma and how it didn't work out and they were turned loose and he saw them once over near the Superstition Mountains years and years ago. Well, we were trying to believe Jake and listen to his yarn when in comes a husky young fellow with horse pants on that wants to know if we had any cow hands what would work for him, saying he needs 'em right now.
Now no one in Borego who ever loafs at the store ever took a job that quick, so we get him to tell his story. It seems the horse pants is because he works for one of them movie outfits from Hollywood and was never on a horse. They is or was working down at 17 Palms (20 miles west of Salton Sea), built one of them make believe desert sheiks homes there and had camels, gals and side show music. Had canned gas, electric lights, shower baths, phone and everything. He said the boss (Jerry Storm) of the outfit was one of the biggest and loudest; but they had had bad luck. It seems they had to have a wind storm and the wind wouldn't stop long enough to let them get ready for it.
Well, it's this way, the bigger bos up in Hollywood telegraphed the smaller boss down here and asked him why he didn't get the windstorm pictures made and the smaller boss said, "It's too windy." And then the phone jumped out o' his hand and the desert sheik's home shook to pieces and the gals hollered, and the camels hit for the hills. It was one of our pet earthquakes, only them poor fools thought that boss in Hollywood did it because he was mad.
Today Jerry Storm is editor of the Desert Hot Springs Sentinal and doesn't give a damn if the wind blows or not.
ALLIGATORS in the RIO COLORADO
By John W. Hilton
Tommy Kinder, "Admiral of the Arizona Navy" who lives on the river near Earp, California, got his title honestly. Tommy was the only experienced man with power boats available at the time the Governor of Arizona took it upon himself to patrol the Arizona side of the river to stop federal men from beginning work on Parker Dam. Tommy had charge of this patrol and has been a cross between a river rat and a desert rat ever since.
Among his countless interesting stories is the account of his shooting a huge alligator in a big bend just south of Parker called alligator slough. This fact was authenticated with pictures in a leading sports magazine. He once took me to see alligators there but it was a cold day and they were all under cover but he did manage to show me alligator tracks.
He has two theories of how they came to settle and thrive in their northern home. Someone gave the railroad park at Needles some baby alligators many yars ago and they put them in a pond in the middle of the lawn but after they reached the age where they took pieces of the fingers of those who fed them, the boys turned them loose in the river. Some time later a circus went broke at Parker and they had to dispose of the animals. The snake charmer hated to kill her pet alligators so she turned them loose in the river and hoped for the best. The "Admiral" likes to think they found each other and lived happily ever after.
Thanking John Hilton for the above, I must tell John's mermaid story (of 20 years ago — remember, this is a Scrap Book). A mermaid swam up the Colorado River, popped up out of the water along side an Indian chief. What did the Indian say . . . "How."
Desert Efficiency Expert
Liminatin' Lem's Poetry Department
Boss, here is the winner of this quarter, from "Down in Cochise County" by George Bideaux.
The old horned toad
Is off his feed,
He dined too long
On a centipede.
First printed in the Brewery Gulch Gazette, Bisbee, Arizona
A RE-PETE by Pete
"The tales you tell,"
His mother said,
"Humiliate and vex us.
You're getting like
Your Uncle Newt
Who used to live
If ever there was a picture of remote, unapproachable dignity, it was the tall Indian standing on a corner of the Taos, New Mexico plaza, a white cotton blanket swathed around his middle and hooded up over his head to reveal only a patch of coppery brown forehead and a pair of far-gazing black eyes.
My tourist friend addressed him politely: "Would you mind if we took your picture?"
He might as well have spoken to a stature.
>My friend's wife held up her kodak: "You savvy picture? Me likum takum picture!"
In austere silence the statue turned his head away.
At this point my friend casually clinked a couple of half dollars together in his palm. Slowly the Indian turned again, shifting his blanket to reveal a faintly amused smile.
"Brother," he said, "now you're cookin' with gas."
By S. Omar Barker
—Borrowed from Brewery Gulch Gazette, Bisbee, Arizona
Yuma comes from the word Yahmayo (Indian meaning, sons of the Captain, or sons of the river) . . . First mentioned by Father Kimo in 1701.
When Zane Gray (who did so much with words) saw the Grand Canyon, his first words were, "WHAT A PLACE TO GET RID OF RAZOR BLADES."
Thanks to Lee Miller of Desert Hot Springs
There are a good five acres of National Forest, Park or Monument for each man, woman and child in the United States.
Your Editor suggests you go camp on your five acres or paint a picture of it, or photograph it. IT'S YOURS. You could even write poetry about it — but don't send any poetry to this paper.
Page 4 Moonlight on the Colorado Packet
This Page is Dedicated to the World's Greatest Optimist The Desert Prospector
DESERT RAT Scrap Book
The Pack Rat's Nest
Dead Man's Wells, Arizona
To The Wickenburg Ore Mkt.
If you know of anything a trade rat likes better than baby rattles, I wish you would advise me by return mail as I ain't had a night's sleep for a month and I'll tell you how it was.
I got an old trade rat that's bin around my cabin for a year. Mostly I didn't pay much attention to him. He would come in every night after I got to bed and make a good deal of racket rattlin things around and seein' what he wanted to trade for. Maybe he would take an old spoon and leave a stick or maybe an old piece of candle and leave a stone. Maybe next night he would bring back the spoon and take the stick and in a short time he seemed satisfied and everything would be quiet for the rest of the night.
Well I had six nice big nuggets that I kept in a cigar box on the shelf and was always careful about keepin' the lid down. But I must a got careless, for one day I found the lid up and in the box was one old spoon, a stub of candle, a piece of cactus and three stones, but no nuggets.
Well sir, I was all upset and worried, 'cause I was keepin' them nuggets for a grub stake for the winter. Well, I says I just got out to scheme that rat somehow and I begin to put things up there I thought he might like better than nuggets. I put up my best pipe. He took it and left an old spoon. I put up nearly everything around the cabin he could carry, but all I got was the same things back besides some sticks and stones. I even put up an old set of false teech that didn't fit me anyway and he brought them back the next night.
I was just about to give up and I figured I would have to get out and get me a job over the winter, but one day I was over to an old cabin that them people from Oklahoma with all the kids lived in for a month or so until they could get a used tire to get them on to Californy. Out in the yard I found an old baby rattle they had lost and right then I says, I got a idea. Here is something that old trade rat ain't never seen and he might be tempted to trade a nugget for it.
Haddent bin in bed long till I heard that rattle goin' fit to kill and next morning there was one of my biggest nuggets. I hurried into town and bought five more baby rattles and every night I put out a rattle and every morning I got back a nugget.
But if I had it to do over again, I don't know if I would have done it. I have tried everything to get them rattles away from him, but he has just quit tradin' entirely. Yes sir, just plum quit tradin'. Just runs around the cabin as soon as I get to bed a keepin' them rattles a goin' all night long. I don't believe he'd even trade them for nuggets. How long can a man live without sleep?
Old Bill Williams
By John C. Herr.
Published by the Wickenburg Sun
No Laws for the Burro
Only the wild creatures that find enough of the right kind of food, cover and water will live. The rest must either starve because they cannot eat, be killed because they cannot hide, or die off because they cannot raise enough young to replace their losses. These are natural laws.
Editor's Note: But the now wild burro pays no attention to such laws.
The only fine thing I know that we have done for the Indian — is to call a few fine days in early fall INDIAN SUMMER.
Blackie says . . . In some irrigated spots in the desert ranchers call it SECOND HELL.
The Colorado River was called Ahan Yara Kothickwa, (All the water there is,) by the Indians.
Ole "Hi-Grade" Nordland, editor of the Date Palm in Indio says he fears that all this new cold tablet remedy cure will do is abolish the good old days of the real hiccupping cures.
C. Roy Hunter, "DESERT PIRATE" of Salton Sea, tells of the old sister in a big black limousine who raced up to his place on Salton Sea, screeched, "I want a boat to take me to Catalina, never mind what it costs — let's go."
Editor's notes Roy did not take her to Catalina, but I have heard he did sell her a place at Desert Beach. The old pirate . . . he probably told her his boats would not go to Catalina.
Play In the Sun, In the Water and Under the Wind
The SOUTH SEAS of the DESERT
250 Feet Below Sea Level
Swimming and Boating
Desert and Seashore Homesites
9½ Miles East of Mecca, California
A popular description of the old Colorado was, "It's too thick to drink and not thick enough to plow."
Today at Cottonwood Springs and El Dorado Canyon you can rent a boat and hook onto a nineteen-inch trout from nice crystal clear, cool water.
Get a Nevada or Arizona license and fish all year round, it's National Park recreational area.
Thank Uncle Sam for shirtsleeve trout fishing in January.
Don Ashbaugh, county editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, tells me that each year a million-and-a-half tourists at the dam, ask, "Can they use the water after they take the electricity out of it?"
A woman's tears are the greatest waterpower known to man.
Lake Mead is the world's largest artificial lake.
Sheepherders make good prospectors after they go nuts, writes Don MacPherson of Yearington, Nevada.
The fact that sheepherders go nuts has long been known. That they make good prospectors is new to your editor, and Don adds that if they have gone completely nuts they turn out to be addle-pated rock-hounds.
A printer's error in setting type, conchilla (sp., small sea shell) gave Coachella Valley its unusual name.
Peg Leg Lost Gold
The Borego Desert Peg Leg Lost Mine Hunt was a great affair this year. Your Editor is happy that no one found the lost mine so we can have another try January 1st, 1951. (Be hell if someone found it). The Monument is getting to be quite a pile of rocks, as every searcher places ten stones on the Peg Leg Monument. A. D. (Mac) McCain, proprietor of Mac's Hitching Post on 66 a little west of Barstow, was winner of the Tall Tale Derby prize, donated by Knott's Ghost Town. As Master of Ceremonies, your Ed. kept things moving, John Hilton lending a hand.
Major George Palmer Putnam, internationally known publisher, writer, explorer and soldier, died at Trona hospital on Wednesday, January 4, at 6:05 a.m.
The three books he gave to Death Valley will keep him alive forever in this Desert. —Chas. Scholl.
Geysers of Salton Sea
Twenty acres of boiling, bubbling mud, shooting out jets of steam and gases, caused by water seepage from the Salton Sea coming into contact with underground beds of hot rock. Dry ice is made from the gas.
If your Editor ever gets around to it he is going to put whistles in some of those baby geysers.
FANDANGOS and FIESTAS
GHOST TOWN, PICACHO
Twenty Miles from Yuma, in California
Gold was found here in 1860 by an Indian. Twenty years later Mexican prospectors struck a rich lode, and the town of Picacho sprang up. The gold brought gay times in its wake. Bull fights, fandangos, and fiestas were frequent. Enterprising Yankees built a stamp mill and a small railroad to the Colorado River. The "bankroll" period ended when the mines were exhausted in the twentieth century.
Knott's Berry Farm to Be Home of Famed Arabian Horses
Walter Knott (showman of Ghost town fame) takes over Arabian horses of Kellogg Ranch at Pomona. In back of "Ghost Town" a huge arena is being built, together with spacious stables.
You can be sure Walter Knott will do a good job of it. —Your Editor
IRVIN S. COBB'S Description of
By Permission of ELIZABETH COBB ROGERS
I think my preconcieved conception of the Canyon was the same conception most people have before they come to see it for themselves — a straight up-and-down slit in the earth, fabulously steep and fabulously deep; neverthless mere a slit. It is no such thing.
Imagine, if you can, a monster of a hollow approximately some hundreds of miles long and a mile deep, and anywhere from ten to sixteen miles wide, with a beautiful mountain range — the most wonderful mountain range in the world — planted in it; so that viewing the spectacle from above, you get the illusion of being in a stationary airship, anchored up among the clouds; imagine these mountain peaks — hundreds upon hundres of them — rising one behind the other, stretching away in endless, serried rank until the eye swims and the mind staggers at the task of trying to count them; imagine them splashed and spattered over with all the earthly colors you ever saw and a lot of unearthly colors you never saw before; imagine them carved and fretted and scrolled into all shapes — tabernacles, pyramids, battleships, obelisks, Moorish palaces — the Moorish suggestion is especially pronounced both in colorings and in shapes — monuments, minarets, temples, castles, spires, domes, tents, tepees, wigwams, shafts.
Imagine other ravines opening from the main one, all nuzzling their mouths at her flanks like so many suckling pigs; for there are hundreds of these lesser canyons, and any one of them would be a marvel were they not dwarfed into relative puniness by the mother of the litter. Imagine walls that rise sheer and awfula as the Wrath of God, and at their base holes where you might hide all the Seven Wonders of the Olden World and never know they were there — or miss them either. Imagine a trail that winds like a snake and climbs like a goat and soars like a bird, and finally bores like a worm and is gone.
Imagine a great cloud-shadow cruising along from point to point, growing smaller and smaller still, until it seems no more than a shifting purple bruise upon the cheek of a mountain, and then, as you watch it, losing itself in a tiny rift which at that distance looks like a wrinkle in the seamed face of an old squaw, but which is probably a thousand feet of depth and more than a thousand feet of width.
Imagine way down there at the bottom a stream visible only at certain favored points because of the mighty intervening ribs and chines of rock — a stream that appears to you as a torpidly crawling yellow worm, its wrinkling back spangled with tarnished white specks, but which is really a wide, deep, brawling, rushing river — the Colorado — full of torrents and rapids; and those white specks you see are the tops of enormous rocks in its bed.
Imagine — if it be winter — snowdrifts above, with desert flowers blooming alongside the drifts, and down below great stretches of green verdure; imagine two or three separate snowstorms visibly raging at different points, with clear, bright stretches of distance intervening between them, and nearer maybe a splendid rainbow arching downward into the great void; for these meteorological three-ring curcuses are not uncommon at certain seasons.
Imagine all this spread out beneath the unflawed turquoise of the Arizona sky and washed in the liquid gold of the Arizona sunshine — and if you imagine hard enough and keep it up long enough you may begin, in the course of eight of ten years, to have a faint, a very faint and shadowy conception of this spot where the shamed scheme of ceation is turned upside down and the very womb of the world is laid bare before our impious eyes. Then go to Arizona and see it all for yourself, and you will realize what an entirely inadequate and deficient thing the human imagination is.
IRVIN S. COBB —1914
As Long As Space Is Time
THE RIVER IN RED
From the book DESERT COUNTRY by Edwin Corle
Duell, Sloan & Pierce, New York
For one of the many quiz shows popular in radio entertainment I suggest somebody send in this:
The following rivers have all played a part in the history of the American West. What other factors do they have in common? The rivers are: the Blue, the Eagle, the Roaring Fork, the Gunnison, the Dolores, the Green, the Dirty Devil, the Escalante, the San Juan, the Paria, the Little Colorado, the Virgin, the Williams, and the Gila.
The answer is that they are all tributaries of one of the most dangerous and unpredictable rivers in the world, the Colorado, and except for the Williams and the Gila, all of them, with the mighty Colorado itself, are backed up by Hoover Dam and help to form Lake Mead.
The water of this series of rivers comes from seven Western states. In southeastern Utah the canyon of the Colorado and its adjacent country is still the wildest and most inaccessible part of the United States. Some of this huge area has been tentatively set aside as the proposed Escalante National Monument. It will be more than twice the size of the state of Delaware and at present has a population of three.
The Colorado River runs into an arm of the desert country in northern Arizona, where the watershed of the Little Colorado drains into it. This is in general the Painted Desert area. Much farther downstream, below the Grand Canyon, the Colorado cuts through the deserts of the Pacific basin and eventually reaches the Gulf of California.
Hernando de Alarcon sailed up the gulf in 1540 and on up the Colorado for an unknown distance. With this expedition it is conceded that white men looked upon the Colorado for the first time. It took man almost four hundred years to domesticate the stream, and it was not until 1936 that the great river was tamed, supposedly once and for all, by the completion of Hoover Dam in Black Canyon.
All previous attempts to make use of the stream, either for navigation or in irrigation, had met with failure. Several expeditions had battled the rapids between the confluence of the San Juan and that of the Virgin River, a long and treacherous journey through the canyons of Arizona — but these were in the nature of explorations, not commercial efforts.
There were shallow-draft steamers on the lower Colorado between the Culf of California and Fort Mojave, near what is now Needles, between 1850 and 1880. But the Colorado was lap ahead of the men who tried to tame it. At times the stream would look and act like any normal river except for its heavy silt content. But with a steamer a hundred miles up from its mouth it would suddenly dry to a muddy drickle, leaving the cursing captain stuck on a sand bar. Then, with the delicacy of a charging bull, it would pour an avalanche of roaring, swirling muddy water downstream from the Arizona and Nevada canyons. The captain could see it coming and hear it coming, but he could do nothing about it. Instead of floating his luckless barge, or steamer, it would go roaring over it with express-train speed, smashing it to pieces and waterlogging what it did not smash. And within an hour it might be a decorous, well-behaved river again, but quietly laughing up its sleeve — or whatever rivers laugh up. Steamboating on a stream of this kind could hardly be profitable.
Toward irrigation projects the Colorado behaved no better. It broke its levees in 1904 and flooded the ranches of the Imperial Valley and eroded new stream beds, washed away part of the Mexican town of Mexicali, ruined crops and roads, wrecked irrigation canals, changed the contour of the country, inundated a salt works, tore up the Southern Pacific's main line, created a huge body of inland water known today as the Salton Sea, and in general had what must have been, for a river, one hell of a good time. It took men over two years to repair the damage and get this enfant terrible among streams back under control.
With the levees and canals rebuilt and reinforced for floodwaters, the Colorado faded to a muddy trickle. The new crops were parched while the river played coy. Once they were safely dead, it cut loose and came roaring down from the seven Western states and all but smashed the dikes and levees all over again, just to show that it could.
The various Indian tribes who lived along the stream in California and Arizona derived much aboriginal mirth from the white man's efforts to make this incorrigible river behave. They themselves knew better than to tamper with him, and he never molested them. Books by Edwin Corle — Mojave, Fig Tree John, Burro Alley, Solitaire and Desert Country.
Editor's Note: If the next packet has Edwin Corle's name as editor, it will mean he sued me for using this, "The River In Red." I could have changed it, but I couldn't improve it.
Ribbons Of Wood
Necessity was the mother of invention which brought one of the world's most famous roads to Imperial County in the early days of settlement. It was the unique plank highway, portions of which still intrigue visitors speeding across the rippling dunes between the valley and Yuma.
The barrier that plagued the men of Anza (1774) stopped the roadbuilders of a later age until 1915, when the first spike was driven into wooden planks that carried automobiles across the shifting sand until 1925.
The first plank road was made of two-by-twelve ribbons of wood, each 25 inches wide, to accommodate the wheels of the vehicles that passed. Later this was changed to heavy cross-ties all the way — one strip of wooden road wide enough to accommodate just one car. Turnouts were built every mile, for passing.
The plank road came into being after the federal government, California and Arizona had appropriated $75,000 in 1913 to build a bridge across the Colorado river, where only crude ferries had operated before. Planking for the road was donated by San Diego road boosters, to assure the route they favored.
Prior to that, in 1912, Imperial County Supervisor Ed E. Boyd had raised and spent $3000 to prove that automobiles could cross the sand dunes.
The plank road served from 1915 until February 28, 1925, when ceremonies were held dedicating the present paved route through the dunes.
A Ship In The Algodones
In the spring of 1876 one Captain Joshua Talbot stumbled upon the remains of an ancient vessel sticking out of the sand dunes 25 miles west of Yuma. At first glance he guessed that it must be the wreck of a Spanish galleon loaded with gold. The discovery set the whole Pacific Coast talking.
The problem of excavating the wreck from the drifting sand delayed the salvage considerably, and meantime a hot controversy arose. Archaeologists and historians maintained that the vessel could not be a Spanish galleon; it must be a Viking. Some even insisted that it was the ship that had disappeared with the "lost tribes of Israel," for how else could one account for the number of prominent noses in California?
Talbot finally organized an expedition to go into the desert and dig up the relic, while sensible people everywhere waited eagerly. What was the Captain's chagrin, after digging for a week in the glaring sun, to uncover a brass plate screwed to the keel of the mystery ship, and to read this simple inscription:
PERRY AND WOODWORTH
The vessel had foundered in a sandstorm on its way by mule power to navigate the Colorado River.
From David O. Woodbury's book, "The Colorado Conquest"
Editor San Diego Union
For thirty years I have been Peg Leg Smith's press agent. Over a period of years, with the help of newspapers of the Southwest I have coaxed the old rascal into Borego Valley.
The first of the year we held our third Annual Peg Leg trek and Liar's Contest, attracting national attention.
My contention has been that a wholesome legend like the legends of the lost Peg-Leg mine is worth nailing down and keeping in the Northeast corner of San Diego County. Thousands of people seriously believe the Peg-Leg mine is in that area, but to the millions the legend is a colorful as many spots throughout the world where people pay homage, such as the Seven Statues of William Tell in seven different towns in Switzerland, all claiming to have been his birthplace.
A great many people annually visit the tomb of Shakespeare's Juliet in Verona, Italy, though Juliet was mythical. Thousands annually visit Ramona's marriage place in San Diego, though Ramona, too, was mythical, and many visit the tomb of the Devil in Kirkady, Scotland. He and Peg Leg are not mythical.
You know we are building a monument of loose stones to Peg Leg with a big sign near it asserting that every searcher who adds ten stones increases his chances of finding the Peg Leg Mine. With the flavor of the Blarney-Stone, this "Wishing Well" idea appeals to all.
Inasmuch as the three years of this enthusiastic outdoor participation has been pronounced a success, I want you, and the staff of the Land Marks Society of San Diego County, and the Historical Society, asking them to insure the continuance of these annual celebrations for all time. They can do this by setting aside this small piece of ground and officially labeling it a landmark.
Hoping you see this as a happy little thing of permanance, I remain
Yours very truly, Happy (Sunshine) Oliver
The Tennessee Mine at Chloride in Mohave County is a gold, silver, lead and zinc producer. Chloride itself, in its jewel-like location, is one of Arizona's most picturesque mining camps.
The Goldroad Mine at Goldroad, in the rich River range of Mohave County, is Arizona's largest gold producer from siliceous ores, producing over a million dollars annually.
The famous Tom Reed Mine at Oatman is one of Arizona's greatest gold producers. Oatman is noted as the center of widespread mining operations ranging from small prospects to operations like the Tom Reed.
John C. Herr, proprietor, Wickenburg Ore Market, says:
The largest item of export out of Wickenburg is ore. The next largest item of importance is empty beer bottles. No wonder the town grows.—The Sun, Wickenburg
Father Kino, the Jesuit priest, called the River Rio de Martyrs) when he crossed the Los Martires (River of the desert) in 1701.
WATER WATER By H2O
California and Arizona fighting over water is not new. The first cause of early man's fighting was women. Next came water. He fought for the water holes in the desert when his only weapon was a club. In the Nile valley 6000 years ago he was fighting for water to irrigate his grain. The pioneers of our west were constantly fighting over water. That whisky has caused more fights than water is a mistaken idea. History will bear that out. —From The Sun, Wickenburg
Father Fout, who traveled with Anza to California, told this story on himself and an Indian princess who wore paint instead of clothes, when he crossed the Colorado at Yuma on his return to Mexico.
Quoted from the May 15, 1776 entry in the good father's diary ...
Among the Indian women who yesterday made their voyages there was a grown-up daughter of Captain Palma, a great swimmer, and the one who went at the head of all the rest. But she was painted with red ochre according to their custom, for they stick this paint on so securely that although they may be in the water all day, as was the case yesterday, it does not come off. I had formerly told her and others that it was not good for them to paint themselves, because the Spaniards and Christians do not do it; and today when she bade me goodbye I told her the same thing, and suggested that she wash herself with water which she had there, because in this way it would be better. She replied that she did not know how to wash herself and that I should wash her, and to her great pleasure, and that of those assembled I did give her a good soaping, and succeeded in removing the paint.
GRANT'S CALIFORNIA BATTLES
President Grant, then an Army officer, led in wars against California Indians in Humboldt County in the 1850s.
There are approximately 340,541 American Indians in the U.S.
Look Here You Liars
Virginia City Liar's Club
Enter Your Best Lie In Our
Membership Card and Dues, 25¢ Per Year
PAUL "LIAR" SMITH
MUSEM OF MEMORIES
VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA
ONE YEAR $2.00 SINGLE COPY 25 ¢
Grubstaker: The late Scotty Allen
THE PONY EXPRESS
Stories of Pioneers and Old Trails
Herb S. Hamlin, Editor
Address All Mail to
THE PONY EXPRESS
795 Sutter Street
San Francisco 9, Calif.
Published Monthly at Placerville,
California, Formerly Hangtown
Either Indians or land was cheap in the early days, for in the year 1830 on the 24th day of December one Blas Lucero from Lower Ranchita sold to Juan de Jesus Vigile a certain tract of land, the consideration of which was one Indian squaw, mature, strong and healthy.
It is believed that this is the only case on record where land was exchanged for human beings, the same being recorded in the oldest record book of Taos County, being A-No. 1 at page 82. Please do not rush as we do not know if any more squaws are available at the present writing. —Taos Review
The fighting ability of New Mexico's Spanish-American citizens was well proven on Bataan. That they sometimes "practice" a little at Saturday night bailes is also acknowledged. Called out with an ambulance after a little fight in a hill village one night, a state policeman ventured to rebuke participants: "What you guys trying to do — kill somebody?"
"Oh, no señor!" proptested a knife-slashed paisano gravely. "We was joost playin'!"
Next week the policeman had another knife fight call. He found one victim sitting on the dance hall doorstep with his throat bleeding from ear to ear.
"So," said the officer sarcastically. "I suppose you were just playin' too, eh?"
The injured man moved his head gingerly to look up at his accuser.
"Oh no, por dios!" he protested solemnly. "I theenk Agapito was a leetle mad weeth me!"
By S. Omar Barker in
Brewery Gulch Gazette
A Buck Is A Buck
Frank Haffey of Blythe, an oldtime road builder and land leveler was in charge of a land leveling job for the government at Parker, Arizona.
Haffey hired an old Mojave Indian by the name of Tom as a rod man. Old Tom was in his seventies, but he was as straight as a ramrod and as active as a young buck.
Old Tom had had fifteen wives, maybe more. One day Haffey asked him if he got rid of the wives by divorcing them. Old Time said "No Mr. Haffey, I just send them back to their people."
Another time Haffey asked Tim if it were true that in the old days the bucks laid around in the shade all day and let the squaws do all the work. Very seriously Tom replied, "No Mr. Haffey, that isn't true. We bucks hunted, fished and trapped, while all the squaws had to do was to plow the corn, gather the mesquite beans, grind them into meal, do the butchering, tend the goats and raise the poapooses. No, Mr. Haffey, that's not true."
The largest gold nugget ever found weighed 630 pounds.
South Africa, the largest gold producer, mined $400 million in gold last year.
Amador County, California, has the deepest gold mines, over 7,000 feet vertical depth.
It is said that an ounce of gold can be beat out enough to cover an acre with gold leaf. A single grain of gold has been beaten out to a thickness of 1/368,000th of an inch.
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VALERIE JEAN DATE SHOP
Looking for the best for this page, I hit a jack-pot — I reprint page 5 from Packet 1 of Pouch 1 . . .
Good stuff — glad I thought to look in my own paper.
The only red menace in our desert is sunburn.
Dogs wag their tails when happy—cats when angry!
TICKS are left hand thread (very seldom right hand threaded).
It was Burbank who talked God out of putting stickers on cactus.
I find many Imperial Valley folks can tell a sweet potato from a yam.
"So many people in keeping their—chin up—raise it to just a convenient drinking angle."
Camp Note: Put popcorn in your flapjack batter—watch them flop over by themselves.
"The wildest thing in the Wild West, is a mother burro, if her baby's safety is at stake."
The only time a horse gets scared on the road nowadays, is when he meets another horse.
Horned toads live in perfect accord with rattlesnakes, prospectors, desert rats, birds and tourists.
The water of Great Salt Lake, Utah, is a 22 per cent solution of salt. Too salty for dill pickles.
"We cigarette and pipe smoking folks should give a thought to how we must smell to a SKUNK."
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Webb, of Coachella, say the termites ate up their bright new marriage certificate.
"The most valuable sense of humor is the kind that enables a person to see instantly what it isn't safe to laugh at."
A high-powered real estate salesman, at Palm Springs, received from an easterner, a down payment on a MIRAGE.
Why don't those "detective story writers" use a meteorite in their perfect murder stuff? "SOCKO" it came from the sky.
The desert tortoise is built for speed, even if he can't make it. His shell offers the least resistance to air, wind and water.
The auto hasn't completely replaced the horse. You haven't yet seen a bronze statue of a man sitting under a steering wheel.
The only kind of social security available to our forefathers was the root-hog-or-die variety. And they managed very well, thank you!
Saw a rainbow here at night. "Moonbow," the girl friend called it. Gee, "Moonshine Rainbows," and song writers haven't used them yet.
Note on prospector's shack, "Would you please put out a little food for the cat? It will eat almost anything, BUT DON'T PUT YOURSELF OUT."
Humor, like history, repeats itself.
All text was hand-entered (no OCR scans) by Ric Carter (all of Harry's misspellings retained). Dick Oakes did the layout, markup and graphics reproduction, but not the contents, which remain the property of Bill Powers and his heirs.