Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Exploring the History of Yuma

For the past couple of days we have been exploring Yuma.  I thought we had been to most of the historical sites here but we were so wrong, Yuma's history is abundant and you can feel it around every corner of this city.  

We came upon this old pink building on Madison Avenue, from what I have read on it was on old liquor store.  It was very colourful and the wooden door on the side of it looked like an old barn door...just up my alley. Everything was boarded up so I couldn't see inside but I wonder if it was always used as a liquor store. 

The same day we visited the Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens, I been wanting to go there since our first time in Yuma and I wasn't disappointed at all.  Jean was our tour guide and she was nothing short of fabulous!  She was so knowledgable about this historic, charming 19th century adobe home built by E. F. Sanguinetti and could answer any question we asked her.  Sanguinetti came to Yuma at a young age of 15 and dabbled in many aspects of business, from farming, merchant owner, banking and real-estate just to name a few.  Eugene Francis Sanguinetti was born in Coulterville, California in 1867 and died in 1945, he was so well known in the State of Arizona a letter simply postmarked "Sanguinetti, Arizona" would reach him.  Jean, our guide, also told us that he has one son that is still living (92 years old) and just this summer the historical society interviewed him so now they have him on tape speaking about his father, mother and his life in Yuma...very cool. 

Speaking of cool, as you first walk into the home on our right is the parlour and there is a square grand piano there and guess who got to play on it...that's right, Craig.  It dates back to the 1800s , the Victorian Era and there are not many of these left.  We were told that since they were so heavy to move once the owner was done with it, it was used for fire wood.  Can you believe that?

 Craig beside the Chickering Square Piano 

From there we drove a few blocks away to Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area or Pivot Point as some locals like to call it.  It's this huge park that stretches along the Colorado River and has tons of walking trails.  We spoke to a Yumanitarian (don't you love it?) and he said that they just levelled the river bank so people could go in, he was actually in the middle of the river and it was only chest deep.  We asked him if dogs were allowed and he said yes but should be kept on a leash, maybe tomorrow we will head there so the dogs can enjoy the Colorado.  He also told us that the east wetlands are great for people but he advised us not to take the dogs there as there are coyotes, rattlesnakes and birds of prey...sounds like Craig and I might have to explore that area. 

Before you walk down to the Colorado River you come upon this old locomotive train (thought of you Dad LeBleu) and the guy told us if you come down at night there are two laser lights that shine across to the other side of the river as this was where the old railway system was. So where this train sits is basically exactly where it was many years ago. 

The not so mighty Colorado River
It's been dammed so much in this area the river is not 
very wide and not fast flowing

You can see the Colorado River at a distance and before 
it was dammed this is how wide it was.

Yesterday was another day of checking out the history of Yuma.  We decided to head over to the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.  The Quartermaster is located along the Yuma Main Canal and it has 5 of the original buildings still standing. 

Below is the Commanding Officer's Quarters with the kitchen in a separate building beside it.  As the plaque below reads, "In 1859, steamboat entrepreneur George Alzono Johnson built a home for his bride Estefana Alvarado. Now known as he Commanding Officer's Quarters, the home is believed to be Arizona's oldest Anglo-built adobe building."  It is in amazingly great shape for a home of this age, it seems large on the outside but it is small once you go in.  

The Water Reservoir supplied the depot with a reliable source of water using a gravity-fed system of underground pipes throughout the site.  I think it's a beautiful building made of local stone.

Next is the Storehouse which stored six months' worth of supplies for military posts both within and outside the Arizona Territory. The amazing thing is the supplies came from San Francisco via barge, down and around the Baja Peninsula to Fort Isabel where the supplies would be transported by steamboat up the Colorado River to Yuma.  Today it houses some old means of transportation.  The picture below shows a red Ford Model T and the old plank road which was used to drive through the Imperial Sand Dunes.  We read that since the road was a one way road people would have to pull off every hour to let others pass going the opposite way and some of this plank road is still in existence in the dunes today.  It was a very busy road with a maximum of 10 cars travelling it daily. 

This old truck was used to transport supplies

From there we went into a side room which has many artifacts from the steamboats used to transport supplies.  The best artifact was this large ship helm - must of been a big ole steamboat. 

We walked over to the Corral House where it was used to store grain and tack for the mules and horses. Only four rooms at the western end of the present day Corral House are original to the depot. "The remaining portion of this building was constructed for the Bureau of Reclamation's Yuma Project in the early 1900s". This portion is in the picture below where Craig is walking, the windows are the Bake Shop.  I love the chalk on the sidewalk.

The Gift Shoppe is original to the building and it was where the soldiers 
would hand in their weapons.  As you can see this door was well locked up, at first I thought it was 
from a vault for money but the lady working the bakery told us otherwise.  I guess in those days weapons were just as important.

After we visited the Quartermaster Depot I wanted to see the Quechuan Tribe Museum but ended up at  Fort Yuma Quechuan Tribe.  We drove through it and found this beauty of an old building which has a sign on it stating "ADAP - Alcohol Drug Assistance Program - Education Prevention Treatment".  Even though it was boarded up, it was still a very interesting building with it's large porch with a rounded ceiling, gorgeous large windows at the front and its double entry door, one was painted and one was stained. 

We took a wrong turn looking for the Saint Thomas Yuma Indian Mission and ended up here...I am pretty sure it is an old railway station.  Looks like the front is where they purchased their tickets and then there is a roof area where you could get out of the hot sun.  The other side of the building there is also an old railway track.  No matter what this building was it was just cool to find it.

I thought the roof was in such great shape, just the roof tiles
were broken.  Whomever the builder was sure did a fine job of this structure.

We finally found how we could get to the Saint Thomas Yuma Indian Mission, the gates to the parking lot were locked as masses were only held on Saturdays at 4:30pm and Sundays at 7:30am and again at 10:30am.  We parked on a lane near the back of the building and I walked up to it, Craig stayed in the get-away car. haha 

Here's a bit of history for you history buffs: " The first mission at Ft. Yuma was name Puerto de la Purisima Concepcion, established in 1780, build by Father Francisco Garces. The mission/pueble site was inadequately supported. Colonists ignored Indian rights, usurper the best lands, and destroyed Indian crops. Completely frustrated and disappointed, the Quechuans (Yumas) and their allies destroyed Concepcion on July 17-19, 1781. On July 17, 1781, the Spanish Padres, settlers and soldiers at that place and at San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuner, 8 leagues up the Colorado River, were all massacred. Fort Yuma (1849-1885) became a U.S. military outpost in the 19th century and was revived as an active mission again in 1919. The current church, St. Thomas Indian Mission was dedicated in 1923."

Today's mission has beautiful stained glass windows and a huge bell which also has an old looking wooden ladder on the side of the tower to climb up to ring it. The doors are gorgeous and looks like they are hand carved and the ceiling of the attached Garces Memorial Hall are breathtaking.  I may have to either A. attend church on Sunday to see the inside or B. call to see if I can go into it.

In the parking lot there is a statue of Fray Hermencildo Francisco Garces

Closer view
Garces was born on April 12, 1738 and 
died July 19, 1781

Here's the mission's doors I was speaking of

Another view of the mission
You can see the bell and the ladder leading up to it

Check out the ceiling on the porch of the 
Garces Memorial Hall
It looks as if it could be paintings from the Quechuan Indian Tribe

When we were at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot we saw this old bridge but could not enter it as there is a large fence surrounding the depot.  We drove to the other side to see it, it is closed to traffic but you can walk it and it crosses the Yuma Main Canal.

From the bridge you can see the siphon which brings water 
into the Yuma Main Canal. 

To end the day we drove through Yuma Historic Downtown as I had seen this building at the end of the street and wanted to take a picture of it.  The sign on the side of it says Golden Wedding Bell Marriage Chapel but I am sure it is not used as a chapel any longer.  

To end a great day we parked beside this beauty, waited for the owners of the van parked beside it to leave and took some pictures. 

Talk soon!

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