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The playas are large flats where water accumulates, and salts deleterious to vegetation are disengaged from the soil. They are not, however, very extensive, nor do they occur very often.
West of the 112th meridian, the soil becomes very sandy; the mountains of igneous rocks are bare of vegetation, and as we approach the Gulf of California, except in the immediate beds of the Gila and Colorado, the country becomes a hopeless desert-destitute alike of both water and vegetation—and from the best information I can collect, this is the character of the eastern coast of the Gulf of California as far down as the island of Tiburon, (almost to Mazatlan.) Of this particular section the memoir of Lieutenant Michler, which follows this, will give a more detailed description.
It is very possible the whole of the new territory, except the region of desert country referred to above, may be brought under the influence of artesian wells and made productive ; but until that is the case, agriculture must be confined to the beds of the river, where the land is below the water-level. There are many tracts of this kind of surpassing richness, but of limited extent, on the Rio Bravo, on the Rio Gila, on the San Pedro, and on the Santa Cruz. Those which are most conspicuous, and which are at present in a very advanced state of cultivation, are the Mesilla Valley on the Rio Bravo, the Valleys of Tucson and Tomacacori on the Santa Cruz, and the settlement of the Pimos on the Gila river.
Throughout the whole course of the San Pedro there are beautiful valleys susceptible of irrigation, and capable of producing large crops of wheat, corn, cotton, and grapes; and there are on this river the remains of large settlements which have been destroyed by the hostile Indians, the most conspicuous of which are the mining town of San Pedro and the town of San'. Cruz Viejo. There are also to be found here, in the remains of spacious corrals, and in the numerous wild cattle and horses which still are seen in this country, the evidences of its immense capacity as a grazing country.
Removed from the river-beds, at the base of the mountains, where perpetual springs are found,
is the ranch of San Bernardino, which falls half in the United States and half in Mexico. I have been informed that this establishment was owned in Mexico, and when in its most flourishing condition boasted as many as one hundred thousand head of cattle and horses. They have been killed or run off by the Indians, and the spacious buildings of adobe which accommodated the employés of this vast grazing farm are now washed nearly level with the earth.
Wherever water is sufficient, this whole region presents marvellous advantages for the raising of stock, owing to the character and quantity of the grass, the mildness of the winters, and its almost perfect exemption from flies and mosquitoes.
Retaining a vivid recollection of the constantly threatened desertion of our work in California, and the inconveniences which sometimes actually occurred, growing out of the gold mania which raged there in 1849, just as we were commencing to run the line, I kept the search for gold and other precious metals as much out of view as possible, scarcely allowing it to be the subject of conversation, much less of actual search; for I well knew if this mania was once to seize my party, it would be attended with the worst consequences; consequently, our investigations into the mineral wealth of the region have not been as thorough as they otherwise would have been.
Enough was ascertained, however, to convince us that the whole region was teeming with the precious metals. We everywhere saw the remains of mining operations, conducted by the
Spaniards, and more recently by the Mexicans. At this moment several companies from California are prospecting with success, and one company is working a mine in the Sierra del Ajo, west of Tucson. There are the remains of mines in the Mimbres mountains, rich in copper and gold; in the San Pedro mountains, between the San Pedro and Santa Cruz rivers, and on the Santa Cruz river a few miles north of the boundary, there are the remains of a mill for crushing gold quartz. These came under my own observation; and we had many reports of mines to the north, and invitations to visit them, which it was inconvenient to accept. We had what I consider authentic accounts of silver being found in placers in the Ajo mountains a little north of the line; although I have never before heard or read of silver being found in placers. I was informed upon authority which I could not permit myself to doubt, that a solid lump of virgin silver had been picked up in that region weighing eighteen ounces. Gold had been found in placers in the new territory in small quantities, in the Mimbres mountains, in the Chirricahui, and in the hills bordering the Santa Cruz river, between the boundary and the Calabasas ranch ; and quite a rich placer is found in the mountains to the south of the line near Cocospera. Argentiferous galena, iron ore and meteoric iron are found in several localities. The analysis of Dr. Easter which is appended to this report will give the values of such of the metals as are collected.
I hope nothing I may say will induce persons to run off in unprofitable searches in these distant and unprotected regions. To guard against this it may be well to state, the country is now full of prospecters from California, who will undoubtedly discover anything worth knowing.
There are causes which must operate against the speedy development of the mineral wealth of this country, no matter how rich it may prove. One is the hostility of the Indians, which makes it unsafe for parties of less than fifteen or twenty to traverse the country; another is its remoteness from navigation and the scarcity of water.
There are within this territory four settlements; one the Mesilla Valley settlement, containing about fifteen hundred inhabitants of the mixed Spanish and Indian races, all engaged in the pursuit of agriculture. .
At Tucson there is a settlement consisting of about seventy families, engaged in the same way. South of Tucson there is a small settlement at San Xavier of semi-civilized Indians, called Papagos; and further on, at Tomacacori, a small settlement of Germans.
San Xavier was once a Jesuit mission, and there remains in a very good state of preservation a large and handsome church.
The most considerable and interesting settlement in the new territory is composed of a confederacy of semi-civilized Indians, the Pimos and Coco Maricopas. Their population is variously estimated at from five to ten thousand. The military commandant at Santa Cruz estimated the number of warriors which they could muster at two thousand. They are located on the Gila river, and form the most efficient barrier for the people of Sonora against the incursions of the savages who inhabit the mountains to the north of the Gila, and who sometimes extend their incursions as far south as Hermosilla, in the State of Sonora.
I became acquainted with these people in 1846, and in another work eulogized their advanced state of civilization, their proficiency in agriculture and the art of war, and their morality. While at Los Nogales, our last astronomical station near the 111th meridian of longitude, a delegation, consisting of the chiefs and head-men, visited my camp, nearly two hundred miles distant from their homes, to consult as to the effect upon them and their interests of the treaty with Mexico, by which they were transferred to the jurisdiction of the United States. I give below a copy of the statement made at the meeting, where it will be seen I said all in my power
to silence their apprehensions. They have undoubtedly a just claim to their lands, and if dispossessed will make a war on the frontier of a very serious character.
I hope the subject will soon attract the attention of Congress, as it has done that of the Executive, and that some legislation will be effected securing these people in their rights. They have always been kind and hospitable to emigrants passing from the old United States to California, supplying them freely, and at moderate prices, with wheat, corn, melons, and cotton blankets of their own manufacture.
CAMP AT Los NOGALES, June 29, 1855. Capt. Antonio Azul, head chief of the Pimos; Capt. Francisco Luke, Coco Maricopa chief; Capt. Malai, Coco Maricopa chief; Capt. Shalan, a chief of Gila Pimos; Capt. Ojo de Burro, war-chief of Pimos ; Capt. Tabaquero, a chief of Gila Pimos ; Capt. La Boca de Queja, a chief of Gila Pimos; Capt. José Victoriano Lucas, head chief of San Xavier Pimos ; Capt. José Antonio, chief of San Xavier Pimos, have this day visited my camp for the purpose of ascertaining in what manner the cession of the territory, under the treaty with Mexico, will affect their rights and interests. I have informed them that, by the terms of the treaty, all the rights that they possessed under Mexico are guarantied to them by the United States; a title to lands that was good under the Mexican government is good under the United States government. I informed them that, in the course of five or ten months, perhaps sooner, the authorities of the United States would come into the ceded territory and relieve the Mexican authorities ; until that time, they must obey the Mexican authorities, and co-operate with them, as they have done heretofore, in defending the territory against the savage Apaches. .
I have examined the testimonials given by numerous American emigrants to Azul and his captains, bearing testimony to the kindness and hospitality of himself, and the Pimo and Coco Maricopa Indians generally. I can myself bear testimony to the truth of these statements. I therefore call upon all good American citizens to respect the authority of Azul and his chiefs.
W. H. EMORY,
U. S. Commissioner, Major U. S. A.
JOSÉ ANTONIO I furnished the head-chief a copy of this paper and gave him for distribution among his subalterns, some silver dollars, and all the blankets and cloths which could be spared from our camp.
I conclude this chapter by giving a series of views along the line, sketched by Mr. John E. Weyss. These views commence at the point where the boundary line leaves the Rio Bravo, and terminate at the 111th meridian of longitude. They were taken to perpetuate the evidences of the location of the boundary, in the event of the Indians removing the monuments erected on the ground. They give also a very good idea of the topography of the country.