Magazine article Sunset

No Sense of Yuma? Stop for Fun, Lots of History

Magazine article Sunset

No Sense of Yuma? Stop for Fun, Lots of History

Article excerpt

PERCHED ON THE BANK of the Colorado River at the southwestern tip of Arizona, Yuma has been a stop for desert travelers since the mid-19th century. Today, when motorists on Interstate 8 hit Yuma, they often pause only long enough to gas up.

Yet Yuma, with its rich history, mild winter climate, and outdoor recreation opportunities, merits a longer look. Expect November daytime temperatures in the 70s or warmer.

The Colorado River is the reason Yuma exists. The settlement is named for the various Yuman tribes who fished the river and hunted in the surrounding desert. As forty-niners rushed to California, those argonauts who followed the southern route had to travel through Yuma, ferrying across the river here to reach the Golden State. In the 1850s, as steamboats plied the lower Colorado, Yuma became a busy river port and a military supply hub.

For a sense of 19th-century life, head down to the river at Yuma Crossing, where you can meet a costumed pioneer in a re-created 1850s emigrant camp and tour the restored Quartermaster Depot, which supplied military posts from the 1860s to 1883. The complex is open 10 to 5 daily. Admission costs $3, $2.50 seniors, $2 ages 6 through 15. Special living history programs are scheduled for October 28 and 30, November 25, and December 3 and 4. For details, call (602) 329-0404.

Nearby, at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, you can see the roofless main cellblock, where inmates slept behind 3-foot-thick granite walls. Between 1876 and 1909, this calaboose held more than 3,000 prisoners. …

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