April 9, 2010
Working on more Colorado River steamboat images and studying the outrageous demise of the venture (more on that later). Does anyone know why there were no steamboats on the Rio Grande, at least in New Mexico? Or, were there? And, come to think of it, I don't recall any on the Rio Grande in Texas. I assume they must have plied the eastern end of the river as it got closer to the gulf. If you know, please edify me.
A couple corrections from yesterday's post, the first train across the Colorado River was at Yuma on September 30, 1877 and here's a photo of the event:
Yes, that's Fort Yuma on the bluff in the background. Meanwhile, up river, the Atlantic & Pacific tried to cross at a point fifteen miles south of Fort Mojave, but the river was in flood stage and running at 1,600 feet wide and the swift current uprooted the pilings as fast as they could set them. A tent town sprang up on the California side, named Needles for the outcroppings nearby. After three months of effort a bridge was finally erected but it washed out in 1884, in 1886 and 1888. So the A&P went downstream ten miles and constructed a high cantilever span at a narrower point that became known as Mellen (a misspelling of the legendary river captain Jack Mellon). Here is a photo of that bridge going up:
And, amazingly, that is the steamboat Gila parked at the foot of the bridge, having brought up supplies (although the tracks had been laid from the west to this point and the east to this point and supplies could easily have been brought in by rail). I believe this railroad bridge was still being used when we traveled to sports events in Needles in the 1960s and we crossed the Colorado on the Traveler (our bus) on another bridge just south of this bridge. Needles was an arch rival of Kingman and we were raised to believe all the girls there were whores (I was shocked when I later met a guy from Needles and he said they thought the same thing about Kingman girls. Perhaps we were both right).
"A whore is a loose woman from another town, who doesn't know your sister."
—Ben Rux, Kingman sage
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