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Yuma in Yuma County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The All-important Colorado River Crossing

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

 
 
The All-important Colorado River Crossing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 14, 2014
1. The All-important Colorado River Crossing Marker
Inscription.  During his 1774 exploratory trip, Anza made friends with Chief Olleyquotequiebe (Anza called him “Palma”) of the Quechan Indians, who controlled the river crossing. The Quechans welcomed the 1775 colonizing expedition and supplied beans, grain, and a feast of watermelons to the weary travelers.

The Yumas entertained us in an arbor which Captain Palma had ordered erected here as soon as he learned of our coming, and many Indians of both sexes assembled to visit us, very festive and joyful and very much painted in various modes and colors.
—Padre Font, November 28, 1775

The expedition crossed on November 30, where the Colorado River was relatively shallow, three to four hundred yards wide and running in three channels past two islands. Many of the men waded, the taller horses being reserved for women and children. Anza positioned ten men on the downstream side to rescue anyone who should fall. One man carrying a child did go down, but was soon rescued. The crossing was otherwise made without mishap.

The Anza expedition arrived at the Colorado River on November 28, 1775. The exact crossing
The All-important Colorado River Crossing Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 14, 2014
2. The All-important Colorado River Crossing Marker
(Colorado River in background)
site is unknown, because flooding periodically altered the river courses and the confluence of the Gila and Colorado Rivers. We do know they crossed the Gila River a few miles east of here, and camped between the two rivers. After two days rest, they crossed the Colorado River, camped, and then moved on to camp near Chief Palma’s village.

The Aftermath
At Chief Palma’s request, in 1775, Anza left to establish missions in the area. By 1780, two mission churches and missionaries had been established by Spanish authorities.

In 1781, forty families of settlers were captured while crossing on their way to establish the Mission and presidio at Santa Barbara. Faced with starvation after the Spanish soldiers burned their crops, and angered by unfulfilled Spanish promises, the Quechans revolted. The remaining Spanish settlers, soldiers, and priests, including Father Garcés, were killed or taken prisoner.

The Spaniards had not heeded Anza’s warning of the need for good relations with the Quechans. His route was abandoned during the rest of the Spanish colonial period. It later became a part of the routes of the Mormon Battalion, the Butterfield Overland Mail, and the southern route for “49ers” seeking their fortunes in California.
 
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Topics and series.
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This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraNative AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail series list.
 
Location. 32° 43.682′ N, 114° 36.896′ W. Marker is in Yuma, Arizona, in Yuma County. Marker can be reached from Prison Hill Road half a mile north of Harold C. Giss Parkway. Marker is located in Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, overlooking the Colorado River. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 220 Prison Hill Road, Yuma AZ 85364, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Indian Hill" (here, next to this marker); Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (here, next to this marker); View of the Prison from Across the River (a few steps from this marker); Site of Old Ferry Landing (a few steps from this marker); "Ocean to Ocean" Highway Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Yuma East Wetlands Today (within shouting
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distance of this marker); Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Yuma East Wetlands (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yuma.
 
Also see . . .
1. Anza Trail Historic Sites in Arizona: Yuma County. Anza's Camp #39 was made after the expedition's third crossing of the Gila River. At night, they were entertained with Yuma (Quechan) and Maricopa singing and the beating of drums. With the help of Palma and his Yuma tribe, they safely crossed the Colorado River, and made Camp (#40) near its banks. They moved to Palma's village (#41), where a shelter was being built for Fathers Garcés and Eixarch, who remained with several interpreters and servants. Prison Hill, part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, looks out over Camps #39-#41. (Submitted on October 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (Wikipedia). In four well-supported punitive expeditions in 1782 and 1783 against the Quechans, the Spanish managed to gather their dead and ransom nearly all the prisoners but failed to re-open the Anza Trail. The Yuma Crossing and the Anza trail were closed for Spanish traffic and would stay closed until the late 1820s. According to historian David Weber, the Yuma revolt turned California into an "island" and Arizona into a "cul de sac", severing Arizona-California and Mexican land connections before they could be firmly established. (Submitted on October 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 54 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 21, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Feb. 25, 2021