The history of the Salt River Valley.
On February 18, 1864, newly appointed territorial Governor John N. Goodwin and Associate Justice Joseph P. Allen of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court departed Prescott with a company of military to explore the valley of the Verde and Salt rivers in central Arizona. Ten days later Justice Allen and Van Smith, another member of the party, left the group camped along the lower Verde to visit the Pima Villages along the Gila River. Later Allyn wrote the following impression that was published in the Arizona Miner:
"...Some six or eight miles below the mouth of the Verde there is an abundance of water, and acequias (canals) could be easily constructed to irrigate the whole. From the top of a mound about midway between the Salt and Gila the eye sweeps over the vast extend of the peninsula between the Gila and Salinas Rivers. The soil is rich, and only needs the moistening of irrigation to be transformed from a desert to a garden. Here is conjoined nearly a thousand square miles of fertile soil, smoothed out to the hand of the husbandman, and the largest quantity of running water in the Territory. Here was the dense population of the past. Here will be the granary of the future."
- Arizona Miner, April 20, 1864.
Those that followed also envisioned the promise of the land in the Salt River Valley that was seen by Justice Allen. But, the water supply of 1864 proved not to be reliable in the years that followed. Visionaries, William Breckenridge, James McClintock and John Norton, saw the need for reliable water supply and began the process that became the Salt River Valley Users Association.
This story and that of the farmers, landowners and ranchers that came together to support the organization is being lost. Each day three hundred new people move to the valley. These new residents see only houses, skyscrapers and malls not the verdant fields, orchards and dairies that were responsible for the economic development of the Salt River Valley at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, someone without knowledge of Arizona History teaches from a book, and children believe that their fruit and vegetables come from Bashas. The Four Rivers Heritage Center will change these perceptions.
|Four Rivers Heritage Center at Lakin Farm
289 North Litchfield Road Goodyear, AZ 85338 | (623) 695-9614
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