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The Lower Colorado Region 170

river, water, sea, land, valley and gulf

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THE LOWER COLORADO REGION 170. A great delta oasis.—The lower valley of the Colorado River is often called the American Egypt. This so-called Ameri can Egypt is naturally desert, but a great river flowing from other regions makes the land productive in much the same way that the Nile River saves Egypt from being a desert. The climate of the two regions is similar, and crops such as the date, Egyptian cotton, alfalfa, Kafir corn, and early vege tables are produced in both places. The people of Yuma, Arizona, sometimes say that they have eleven months of summer and one month of late spring. How far north of the equator is Yuma? Cairo on the Nile? 171. A wonderful delta.—The Colorado delta is a piece of new land. It is much the largest tract of good farm land in this region. Once upon a time, long ago, the Gulf of California reached about two hundred miles farther to the northwest than it now does, and the Colorado River flowed into the east side of it. The dirt that the river cut from the Grand Canyon was gradually spread out into a delta that reached across the Gulf. The river, as rivers do in deltas, flowed now here, now there, sometimes into the gulf as at present, sometimes into a cut-off piece of the Gulf, the remainder of which is called Salton Sink or Sea. (Fig. 171.) When the Southern Pacific Railroad was built through that region, and white settlers began farming there, the Colorado flowed directly into the Gulf, and the Salton Sea was so nearly dried up that it was only a small body of salt water surrounded by many square miles of desert land lying below the level of the sea. How much is below the sea level? (Fig. 171.) 172. A fight with a river.—Imperial Valley is the correct name for the American Egypt. The white settlers built a canal to carry water from the river to irrigate the rich delta land. A great farming region has arisen there, for the soil is level, rich, and deep, and the hot sun makes plants grow with great speed.

Some of the early settlers nearly drowned the valley. They dug an irrigation canal

toward Salton Sea. Heavy floods made the water flow so swiftly that it dug the bottom of the canal deeper, and finally the whole Colorado River flowed down into Salton Sea. The sea began to rise and flood the railroad. How much land would it haveflooded if ithad not been stopped? (Fig. 171.) It took three million dollars and many months of work to stop this break in the bank of the river, and make it flow again into the Gulf. Many miles of railroad were under water when the river was conquered, and farms were threatened.

173. Date Arabs say that their great food tree, the date palm, loves to grow with its feet in the water and its head in the fires of Heaven. Then the Imperial Valley is a natural home for the date. The great ?iver furnishes plenty of water, and the rays of the sun do seem almost as hot as fire. The thermometer is 105° in the shade every day for weeks at a time, and if the sun shines on a pipe filled with water, the water in it will get hot enough to burn one's hands. Orchards of date trees, brought from Africa and Asia, are now thriving and bearing good fruit in what was recently the burning desert of California and Arizona. It is claimed that these dates are sweeter and better than old-world dates.

174. Truck farming. Cantaloups from this district ripen weeks before those grown on the Atlantic Coastal Plain. For a month they are shipped (three hundred carloads a day, in 1920) to nearly every state in the United States. Sometimes the price is high, but sometimes there are too many canta loups grown, and the price drops so low that it does not pay the growers to ship them.

175. Cattle and cotton.—The Imperial Valley and the Salt River Valley are also good for cattle. No crop thrives better under irrigation than alfalfa. This forage, along with Kafir corn (Sec. 108), is grown and fed to many dairy cattle; so there is butter to sell.

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