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(from the base of the Bernardino Pass to the Gulf) is one hundred and seventy miles; or, measuring from the base of the Pass to the mouth of the Gila, it is one hundred and forty miles. Its greatest width is about seventy miles, measured in a north and south direction along the Colorado river between the head of the Gulf and the mountain north of Fort Yuma.
" This plain narrows as it extends back from the Colorado river, and opposite Carriso creek its width is reduced to between sixty and seventy miles, and still further westward, near its extremity, at the San Bernardino Pass, it will not average over twenty-five miles.
"These measurements are approximate, and give for the whole area about six thousand square miles.” *
* "On the part of the desert that is usually traversed by the emigration to California, via the valley of the Gila, the main dependence for water is upon 'New river and its sloughs. The two ponds called the 'great and the little lagoon' may be regarded as portions of this New river, from which they become filled only when the waters in the Colorado river rise to a great height.”
"Several other wells or deep holes in the clay have been excavated at points along the road, but they are now filled up by the caving in of the banks, or by sand, so that they are useless. Respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
J. J. ABERT,
Colonel Corps Engineers. Hon. John B. FLOYD,
Secretary of War.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, March 12, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith the papers referred to this office relating to a grant of the Colorado desert to the State of California, and also the letters of this office referring to the same subject, marked respectively A, B, C, and D. Also copy, marked E, of the descriptive notes of the deputy surveyor, running the range line of range 12 east of the San Bernardino meridian, extending from the south line of the State of California to the base line north of the tract of country in question.
It will be seen that these descriptive notes indicate a rich soil, but absence of water on all that portion of the country south of the mountain ranges. The field-notes of the subdivisional surveys,
and the descriptions by all the government explorers, corroborate the statements of the descriptive notes herewith. The line upon which these descriptive notes are based passes from north to south over the central portion of the so-called desert. It is a well ascertained fact that the Colorado river is considerably higher than this desert, and
H. Rep. Com. 87—2
that from the river on to and across a portion of the desert there is a natural channel known as New river, with a regular descent of five feet to the mile, but which is dry, except at high water in the Colorado, when there is a regular flow into the desert.
There can be little doubt that the mountains surrounding this desert, in common with the mountain ranges in all that region of country, contain mineral wealth of great value, and that in no event should the mountain region be included in the proposed grant.
A careful examination of the papers submitted by you, and of every other accessible source of information, has failed to convince me that any departure from the views of this office, as expressed in its letters herewith submitted, is, at the present time, desirable. I cannot, therefore, recommend the proposed cession.
First. Because the information in this office, and the financial con. dition of the country, do not justify so extended a grant of the public domain without compensation equal at least to the cost of survey, which, in this instance, amounted to $170,000.
Second. A very considerable portion of the most desirable land in California has already been absorbed by numerous private grants of the Mexican government, and to extend this system of monopoly by the grant of more than 3,000,000 acres, in a single instance, to an individual or private corporation, which will be the practical effect of the proposed measure, is certainly not in accordance with the general policy of the country.
Without recommending the cession in any form, I may be per. mitted to suggest that if made it should be confined to the land actually brought within the influence of the proposed irrigation, and that alternate sections or descriptions, as in the case of grants for railroads, be reserved to the United States, to be disposed of at an enhanced minimum, or as Congress shall hereafter determine. The papers herewith are accompanied by schedule. With great respect, your obedient servant,
J. M. EDMUNDS, Commissioner. Hon. J. W. CRISFIELD.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, March 16, 1860. Sir: I have the honor to return herewith the communication from the Hon. R. W. Johnson, of the 27th ultimo, submitting resolutions of the legislature of California, and a bill based thereon and other papers, asking Congress to donate to the State a tract of country in the southeastern part thereof, to aid in the improvement of the same, and pursuant to your reference respectfully subinit:
That the bill contemplates a grant to the State of all that portion thereof south of the San Bernardino base line and east of the main range of mountains, embracing an estimated area of about six and a half millions of acres, of which upwards of three and a half millions have been surveyed and reported to this office, at a cost to the general government of upwards of $170,000.
The field-notes of the survey show the land in many places in the valleys to be of good quality, with great want of water and timber, but generally to be third rate and sandy, interspersed with dry beds of salt lakes, rugged and broken near the mountains, with no timber or water. We have nothing bearing upon the unsurveyed part of the tract or the mountains therein.
Looking to our limited knowledge of this region of the State, our want of information in regard to the extent of the mineral wealth of its mountains, and considering the great extent of the grant, and the large outlay already inade by the United States for the survey of the same, I can find no ground which would warrant me in recommending a transfer as a pure gratuity of the proprietary interest of the United States. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOS. S. WILSON, Commissioner. Hon. J. THOMPSON.
Secretary of the Interior.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, January 25, 1861. SIR: I have the honor to enclose herewith, for transmission by the department, my reply of this date to a communication from Mr. Vandever, of the Committee on Public Lands, House of Representatives, submitting a bill granting certain lands to California, in the southeastern part of the State, to aid in introducing and furnishing fresh water therein. Mr. Vandever is desirous of the early transmission of my reply. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOS. S. WILSON,
Commissioner. M. KELLY, Esq.,
Acting Secretary of the Interior.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, January 25, 1861. Sir: I have had the honor to receive from you a memorial, dated January 7, 1861, from 0. M. Wozencraft, esq., asking a cession to the State of California of what the memorialist designates as the "Colorado desert,” accompanied by a bill entitled "An act granting certain public lands to the State of California in trust for the uses and purposes therein mentioned."
This bill recites that by an act of her legislature, approved April 15, 1859, the State of California conveyed to 0. M. Wozencraft and his associates all the right which the State then had or might there. after acquire to a tract of land in the southeastern part of the State, bounded as follows: on the north by the San Bernardino public survey base line; on the east by the Colorado river; on the south by the south boundary of the State; on the west by the base of the main range of mountains ; upon the conditions that the grantees should “introduce and furnish a plentiful supply of wholesome fresh water along the line of travel between the San Gorgonio Pass and Fort Yuma and between Carriso creek and Fort Yuma."
This bill, which you have brought to the attention of this office, would, if matured into a law, accomplish the object contemplatedof a cession to the State in the southern part thereof and within the boundaries above mentioned of about 3,000,000 of acres. For the views of this office touching the proposed cession, I have the honor to refer to the printed copy, accompanying the papers referred by you, of my report to the Secretary of the Interior, dated Marcb 16, 1860. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOS. S. WILSON,
Commissioner. Hon. WILLIAM VANDEVER,
House of Representatives.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, February 18, 1861. SIR: I have the honor to return herewith the letter to you, dated February 16, 1861, from Hon. William Vandever, of the Committee on Public Lands of the House of Representatives, respecting a proposed grant of lands to California in the southeastern part of the State, to aid in the construction of canals, &c., for the purpose of introducing water therein. Upon this subject we reported, on the 16th March, 1860, that the contemplated grant embraced an estimated area of about six and a half millions of acres, upwards of three and a half millions of which had been surveyed at a cost of upwards of $170,000.
The matter was again before this office in January last on a modi. fied proposal, reducing the extent of country proposed to be granted to about three millions of acres. Our information as to this region of the State is derived from surveying returns. The statements before the Senate Committee on Public Lands, as appears from this report, (1st session 36th Congress, No. 276, dated June 14, 1860, printed copy herewithı,) represents the greater portion of this region to be a waste sandy desert, destitute of water and vegetation. It is understood, however, that of the triangular three million part con
templated by the memorial, there is a considerable body of good, arable land, stretching, lengthwise, from southeast to northwest, yet all requiring water, its destitution in that respect rendering the country generally unfit for settlement. The water project is designed, it is understood, to open the way for intercommunication through the country for all purposes, and it is through that means portions of the lands, it is expected, will be redeemed. I would therefore respectfully suggest that should Congress contemplate favorable legislation, it be conditioned: that the Secretary of War be authorized to cause a survey and examination to be made as to the practicability of supplying water to this region, as proposed, and as to the character of the soil, &c.; that should it appear from such survey that the work is a feasible one, and that the tract in its present condition is uninhabitable and incapable of cultivation, that power be conferred on the Secretary of War to make the grant absolute, with proper limits as to extent and conditions as to completing the work within a limited period, to be stipulated by them; that the lands shall be subject to the disposal of the legislature of the State for this work and no other; that they shall be disposed of as the work progresses, and if not completed within a limited time, to be fixed, the lands unsold to revert to the United States. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOS. S. WILSON,
Commissioner. MOSES KELLY, Esq.,
Acting Secretary of the Interior.
Range 12 east of San Bernardino meridian. South. Town. 17. Soil light sand.” 16. Land first, second, and third rate, soil sandy, scattered
mesquite timber, no water. 15. Land level, soil first rate, some mesquite timber, no water. 14. Soil sandy, second rate, strewn with sea-shells, clumps of
chemizal, no water. 13. Part sandy soil, no vegetation, part clay soil, and scattering
bushes, no timber. 12. Land level, good first and second rate soil. 11. Land level, very rich alluvial soil. 10. Land level, soil red, first rate. 9. Land level, soil first rate, no timber. 8. Land second and third rate, rocky, broken, no timber. 7. Land rolling, third rate, rocky, a few mesquite trees, sage
and greasewood brush. 6. Land second rate, rising, soil sandy, no timber, greasewood
brush and cactus.