Through the Pioneer Records: Highlights of His Coast-to-Coast Adventure in 1922
100 YEARS AGO
Continuation of Mrs. HM Franklin’s Travelogue
From our Pullman we look out over a sandy desert with all kinds of cacti, the giant cactus that sometimes exceeds forty feet, tall and palm-like, other cacti, feathery and with many branches. There are no less than twenty-eight varieties of cacti on the Apache Trail that leads to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. The natives make mescal, a whiskey-like drink, from the cactus, and if someone gets lost in the desert, they can find enough moisture in the cactus to sustain life for quite some time.
In Arizona there are interesting prehistoric ruins, ancient cliff dwellings built like swallows’ nests in the niches of the canyon walls. On the crest of one of the very high Chiricahua Mountains, the distinct profile of an Indian looks down. This is known as Cochise Head, named after the fierce Apache chief who so long defied the whites. At Geronimo, the railroad enters the Indian reservation where 5,000 Apaches have peaceful homes and have forgotten the cruelty for which their tribe was known.
Tucson is well known as a place for people seeking health, its altitude and mild winter climate being particularly favorable. There are nearby scenic peaks and seaside resorts that offer many attractions. The city site is visited in 1540 by Coronado, and throughout the Tucson area are prehistoric ruins. The Casa Grande Valley is home to the most interesting historical ruins which, according to Von Humbolt, were one of the Aztecs’ stopping places during their migration from Asia to the Valley of Mexico.
The government has an extensive irrigation system in Yuma which is on the Colorado River. It is good dairy country, much cotton is produced and fruit and dates are successfully grown and as a winter resort it must be delicious. But in July, Yuma is honestly said to be the hottest place in the United States. Indian women are busy with all kinds of beaded items for sale. They wear thick, warm shawls on their heads, and we can’t help wishing they knew the ‘poor blind Hindu, who for clothing makes his skin’.
You’ve heard of the famous “hot cakes” that go so fast, but in this case they’re hot ice cream cones that melt before we have time to eat them.
A warm breeze cuts your flesh and the sun does its hard work. We rode the full length of the long train back to our Pullman after getting off at Yuma. In the passenger car were Negroes, Mexicans, Japanese and other foreigners, all mixed with white tourists. There were many children who wore samples of real estate on their hands and faces. Most of them were eating and those who weren’t were shouting in varying tones.
Leaving Yuma, we cross the Colorado River and enter California, that state famous for its beautiful landscapes, magnificent fruits and flowers, and which is the playground of a large crowd of visitors. Our time is changed again and moved back one hour, the third time we have moved back.
The Imperial Valley is called the “Dixieland of the West”. Diverted water from the Colorado has transformed the valley into a prosperous agricultural district. Key products are: Durango long staple cotton, alfalfa, barley, oats, wheat, milo corn, melons, grapes, hemp, apricots, canteloupes, olives, grapefruit and honey. Pigs, turkeys, cattle and sheep are raised with great success and quantities of butter are shipped.
For sixty miles we ride close to the shores of the Salton Sea which has quite an interesting history. In 1906, the Colorado River got tired of the monotony of going on forever like the creek, so the river ran away and found a new home in a great bed of salt. For two years the river lay here, and then, through skillful engineering and the expenditure of about three million, the prodigal was enticed to return to his former home. Palm Springs is a great vacation spot for people with tuberculosis and one of the victims who was on the train, when asked to board and join the tourists, said very sadly, “J just wish I could go.
Our youngsters had found a fun party and together they kept things lively with mandolin music, community songs, games, kodaking and all kinds of fun. The brakeman for part of the trip was angry and unaccommodating and objected to the youngsters being on the platform. When he got off the train, he was standing with the new one who had taken his place, but had changed his cap and his coat for citizens’ clothes, so that the young people did not know him. One of the boys said to the new brakeman in the presence of the old one: “We’re glad you’re coming because we want to get rid of that grumpy old man.” Then the others chimed in, “He was as mean as he could be and wasn’t even smiling.” The new man let them have a good time, and they jumped and bought ice cream cones every time the train stopped and played every game from “up jinks”. Four boys and a girl who had been in the band since we left New Orleans broke up with us in Los Angeles and we hated to see the happy party dissolve. They presented the nice brakeman with fine cigars, as an expression of their appreciation.
“From all heights green sights catch the sweetest sea of blue,
And a myriad of flowers leap to match the varying hue of the rainbow.
Los Angeles is truly the land of cloudless skies because there is never a cloud during the dry season. The climate is said to be mild all year round, the climate that produces hedgerows of calla lilies at Christmas and supplies the table in the Yuletide season with luscious strawberries. There are over four hundred miles of paved and leveled streets, all of which are beautifully clean public buildings, and many beautiful parks. These parks contain picturesque lakes with boats always full of people seeking pleasure, magnificent trees like the Australian flame tree with its bright purple flowers. The velvety lawn provides plush sofas for hundreds of people who rest in sequestered nooks all around the parks. The tunnels go under the streets with tall buildings above the brightly lit tunnel. A rather unique little car called “Angel’s Flight” whisks you to the top of the tunnel for five cents, remarkably cheap for such a flight.
The picturesque little old chapel, consecrated in 1822 and known as the Plaza Church, marks the center of the old village, and from its title which can be seen on the facade “Nuestra Senora la Reine de los Angeles”, we find the origin of this magnificent city. The small mission was founded in accordance with Spain’s plans to Christianize and civilize the Indians of California.
The inhabitants have become so accustomed to the earthquakes that sometimes shake the city, that they are not as panicked as we would be who live near the Atlantic coast. A resident of Los Angeles told us that once last year he was leaning against a huge public building downtown when suddenly the building leaned back and left him. The earthquake was mild and did very little damage at the time, so outside newspapers said little about it.
The beauty of the flowers that garland and crown the city until it looks like a mammoth bouquet, is beyond description. Brilliant scarlet geraniums reach so high that birds make nests among their flowers and in the residence section are so common that clothes are hung to dry on their branches. The houses are encrusted with flowers of geraniums, tuberoses, garlands of wisteria, while the roses in their ambition to reach the tops of the chimneys slumber everywhere on the roofs. Many elegant mansions have pergolas adorned with flowers, and every cottage, no matter how small, is blooming with flowers whose fragrance permeates the entire atmosphere.
Los Angeles is the home of cinema and many picture companies have their establishments in or near the city. These places are of great interest to all visitors. Los Angeles, with its fruits and flowers, leaves the traveler with lasting memories of sunshine and perfume.
To be continued next week
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