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Town, 5. Land third rate, rocky and broken, no timber.
4. South part of township rocky and third rate land, north
part undulating good land, no timber. 3. Land third rate, soil sandy, sloping and rugged, grease
wood bushes. 2. Land third rate, hilly and rocky, soil sandy, scattering
bushes, no grass. 1. Land third rate, sloping and hilly, soil sandy, greasewood
bushes, no timber.
WASHINGTON, D. C., April, 1860. Sir : From the evidence adduced in reference to the physical geo. graphy of the lands called for by the State of California, it will be evident that the entire section is destitute of water, vegetation, and timber, and that owing to this, as well as the excessive heat and floating sunds, it is extremely difficult to cross over this region, and utterly impossible to remain on it.
And though the field-notes of surveys of this region would establish the fact that there is second and third rate class of lands, yet in the absence of water, which they likewise establish, those lands must ever remain entirely sterile.
And further, that those lands can ever be reclaimed or occupied by any other system than the one proposed by the State of California is equally apparent, as the federal government never has and probably never will expend money for the reclamation of lands, more especially within the bounds of a sovereign State; and the State would be unauthorized in making a large expenditure for such purpose, without she had the fee simple in the lands.
And moreover, the act of cession will be in conformity with and in furtherance of an established principle of the general government in thus donating lands to the State which require an expenditure of money and labor in their reclamation.
And in making this cession the general government will but subserve her own interests; as it is by this means alone that she can pass into California (via the southern route) through her own territory. She is now dependent on Mexico in making their land transit with her mails, munitions, men, and supplies, and must continue to be so, unless water is furnished on this desert.
In making this cession the general government has all to gain and nothing to lose, as the lands are shown to be entirely valueless; that there is not one section in the entire boundary that can be sold for one cent per acre. But in the event of introducing water on them the government will thereby save a large amount in her expenditure for the transportation of her munitions, men, and supplies, as she now makes a detour of fifteen hundred miles, when it will be but one kundred miles if water is introduced on this desert.
And finally, it is evident that the amount spent by the general government for the survey of those lands has been misapplied without water can be introduced on them; and it is equally evident that the amount spent in building a wagon-road through the Gadsden purchase has been misapplied if the road is to terminate at Fort Yuma, and it must necessarily terminate there, if water is not introduced on this Sahara of America.
It is to be hoped that your honorable committee will give this matter a close and thorough investigation. I shall then feel assured that you will come to the conclusion that this is the best, if not the only, disposition which can be made of the Colorado desert, or, as the Mexicans call it, jornada del muerte," desert of death. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
0. M. WOZENCRAFT,
Agent for the State of California. Hon. R. JOHNSTON,
Chairman Committee on Public Lands.
To the honorable Committee of the United States Senate on Public Lands :
HONORABLE SIRS : I would respectfully submit to your consideration whether or no there is an existing necessity in deferring action and making the cession of the Colorado desert, in compliance with the request of the State of California.
It has been argued, I am aware, that it may be necessary to order an additional survey of this desert.
I would submit, that inasmuch as the government has, at great expense, had a number of surveys made embracing all the information sought for, including a general survey, a topographical survey, a geological survey, embracing a hydrographical survey, all of which establish the fact that the entire region called for by the State is a desert, uninhabitable and valueless; and, moreover, the parties en. gaged in making those surveys were entirely at a loss to know how or by what means water could be furnished, or the formidable features of this desert changed, I would therefore submit whether or no the government would feel authorized to incur the expense of an additional survey of a section thus thoroughly surveyed, and proven to be valueless. Surely not; but if it be argued that a survey may be necessary with a view of proving or disproving whether or no the plan proposed by the undersigned is or is not practicable, I would submit that it would be an act of supererogation thus to determine a matter which the parties themselves propose to do, and at their own expense. And it is hardly probable that the general government will at this late date abandon a fixed principle and engage in works of internal improvement. But surely the government would not order an additional survey with a view of adopting and thus taking advantage of a measure devised, proposed, and partly executed by the party, who may justly claim to be the originator of the plan to furnish water on this desert. As it is a settled principle of the government to secure and protect the person who may discover an improvement, in the right of that improvement I would submit that the principle applies here, as well as in cases which are patentable.
And, further, I would submit, that inasmuch as all the testimony confirm the facts established by those surveys, that the entire section called for by the State is not only valueless but a serious barrier to government service, it is evident that the government can sustain no loss, but, on the contrary, save money and facilitate government service.
And, finally, I would submit that inasmuch as the evidence establishes the fact that owing to the absence of water and vegetation on this sahara there has been, not only great suffering, but loss of human life, and a great loss of animals and other property, and withal compelling our government to make an unauthorized encroachment on the soil of a government inimical to us for the transit and transporta: tion of mails, munitions, men, and supplies, in order to reach our Pacific possessions, I would respectfully submit if there is not a necessity of prompt action in furtherance of the plan proposed. Very respectfully submitted.
0. M. WOZEN CRAFT, Agent for the State of California.
SAN BERNARDINO, November 1, 1860. Sir : In compliance with your instructions, I have made a reconnois. sance and survey of the Colorado desert, with a view of determining the practicability and probable expense of introducing water on the said desert, from the Colorado river, and the area of lands which may be thus irrigated.”
The reconnoissance and survey embraced that portion of the desert lying south of the range of mountains, extending from the San Bernardino mountains to the Colorado river. I deemed it unnecessary to go north of that range of mountains, having spent some time in surveying that region of country, and thus gained a familiar knowl. edge of its topography and physical geography; from which I am persuaded that water cannot be taken from the river over any considerable portion of it, or to the basin below that range of mountains. And, moreover, having found a point which was so well adapted in fulfilment of the objects in view, that I deemed it all sufficient to limit the survey to the above-named region of country.
After having made a careful reconnoissance of the country, I was forcibly impressed with the practicability of taking water from the
Colorado river over a great portion of it, inasmuch as there is the unmistakable evidence of water having flown from the river through innumerable channels, and finally concentrating into two, of some magnitude, by which the water is conducted far up into the basin; water having passed through one of those channels (from the Colorado river) soon after our acquisition of the country, it was call New river, the other may justly be called Old river.
The practicability being thus settled by the laws of nature, I sought to determine on a suitable point to tap the river, and was fortunate in finding a location which possessed so many advantages that I was at no loss in making the selection. It is that point of rock adjacent to Pilot Knob, and immediately above our boundary line with Mexico.
The secondary and recent alluvial formations of the banks of the Colorado will not admit of tapping the river without risk of changing its channel and destruction of the works necessary in regulating the volume of water to be taken out; hence the necessity of taking advantage of a point of primary and durable formation, and so situated as to insure a juncture with the river at all times.
This point possesses all of these requisites. There is a ledge of rock extending into the river some fifty-five feet, projecting out from an elevated point of rock, against which the river impinges, and in all probability will ever continue to do so. This point being determined on, it was made the base of survey, and I proceeded to run a line of level down and adjacent to our boundary line with Mexico. The result of which showed a mean fall, with an equitable gradient of five feet to the mile through the entire extent of country proposed to be irrigated.
There is an elevated plain jutting out from the river at the point of junction, which continues on in a southwesterly direction for some fifty miles. It would be desirable to carry the level on and over it, but inasmuch as there are heavy sand drifts on it, projecting out to the edge of this bench, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to carry water through it, consequently we will be compelled to take the water through Mexican territory for that distance.
The probable expense of the work. It would be difficult for me to make the estimate, and am in hopes that it may be sufficient to give the facts by which those who may engage in the work can make their estimates.
The ledge of rock, at the junction, is so formed by nature as to require but little additional work to make it complete for the introduction and regulation of the volume of water which may be desired. Nature, again, has formed aqueducts from this point to the bed of Old river, but it will be necessary to cut one channel, and thus confine and husband the water. This canal should be, say, twenty-five feet in width and ten in depth, and fifty miles in length. This is through Mexican territory. We then can avail ourselves of the channel of Old river for thirty or forty miles through American delta, simply by deepening and straightening it, and finally extend it by smaller cuts some fifteen or twenty miles further, up to the extreme depression of the basin and base of the mountains.
H. Rep. Com. 87—3
After reaching the American soil, the lateral canals may be cut at such intervals as the requirements for irrigation may demand, and, of course, the expense will be in due ratio to the number required, and that can only be determined by actual experiment.
The area of land which may thus be irrigated may be set down at twenty miles in width, by forty in length. This estimate, however, must be taken with all due allowance, and in connexion with the ob. stacles in making the estimate. There is, in the first place, a portion of the lands within the boundary which may be irrigated, are irre. claimable, owing to their formation and composition, such as sand drifts, elevations, swamp, volcanoes, alkalies, and salt beds, and, finally, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to make an estimate of the volume of water which may be spared or safely taken from the Colorado river, or the area of lands which a given volume of water will irrigate; all of this cannot be correctly fixed a priori, and can only be determined by actual experiment.
I can only say that there is the above named amount of lands within the American boundary which will admit of irrigation from the Colorado river, and that those lands are unusually rich, being composed of alluvial earth, clay, sand, marl, and shells, and withal presenting a remarkably favorable surface for irrigation.
EBENEZER HADLEY, County Surveyor of Los Angelos County, and Deputy County Surveyor
of San Bernardino County. 0. M. WOZENCRAFT.