Yuma, Arizona

Yuma is a city in and the county seat of Yuma County, Arizona, United States. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state, sandwiched between California and Mexican/Arizona border. Yuma’s population was 93,064 at the 2010 census, up from the 2000 census population of 77,515. Each year more than 85,000 retirees make Yuma their winter residence.

History

The site we now refer to as Yuma, Arizona was a winter settlement for the local natives. The area’s first settlers were Native American tribes whose descendants now occupy the Quechan reservation.

The tribe did not occupy the location year around. During the summer months they traveled to the near by mountains of San Diego to cool off during the harsh months. They were forced to endure the intense summer heat, so they could continue to farm their winter crops to sustain their tribe.

In 1540, before Columbus reached America, expeditions under the Spanish Explorers, Hernando de Alarcon and Melchior Diaz traveled up the Gulf of Mexico through the Colorado River, which at one point reached the ocean. They traveled through the Colorado River with a small vessel and reached the site of Yuma. They immediately saw the natural crossing of the Colorado River as an ideal spot for a settlement. They were two of the very few Explorers who treated the local tribes humanly.

Another Spanish Explorer who was kind to the local tribes was Juan Bautista de Anza. His exploration circa 1774 he came to the Confluence of the Gila and Colorado River. He traveled to Mexico City with the chief of the lower Colorado River area Quechan Native American tribe who requested the establishment of a mission.

On August 24, 1777, the Viceroy of New Spain appointed Anza as the Governor of the Province of Nuevo México, the present day U.S. state of New Mexico. Juan Bautista de Anza remained as governor of Nuevo Mexico (New Mexico) until 1787 when he returned to Sonora. He was appointed commander of the Presidio of Tucson in 1788 but died before he could depart and take office. Anza was survived by his wife.

Following the establishment of Fort Yuma, a town sprang up on the New Mexico Territory (now Arizona) side of the Colorado. The townsite was duly registered in San Diego, demonstrating that both banks of the Colorado River just below its confluence with the Gila were recognized as being within the jurisdiction of California. The county of San Diego collected taxes from there for many years. The town, initially called Colorado City, was renamed Arizona City in 1858. The city was almost completely destroyed by the Great Flood of 1862 and had to be rebuilt on higher ground. It took the name Yuma in 1873.

From the 1850s to the 1870s, the Yuma Crossing was known for its ferry crossing. From 1852 it was the major steamboat stop on the way up and down the Colorado River. The steamboats transported passengers and equipment for the various mines and military outposts along the Colorado and was the terminus of wagon traffic up the Gila River into New Mexico Territory.

They offloaded the cargo from ships at the mouth of the Colorado River at Robinson’s Landing and from 1864 at Port Isabel. From 1864, the Yuma Quartermaster Depot, today a state historic park, supplied all forts in present-day Arizona, as well as large parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Yuma served as the gateway to the new Republic (later State) of California, as it was one of the few natural spots where travelers could cross the otherwise very wide Colorado River. After Arizona became a separate territory, Yuma became the county seat for the area in 1864.

Yuma Crossing and RR bridge in 1886. The bridge was built in 1877. The Southern Pacific Railroad bridged the river in 1877, and acquired George Alonzo Johnson’s Colorado Steam Navigation Company, the only steamboat company on the river. Yuma became the head of navigation on the river, ending the need for Port Isabel, which was abandoned in 1879.

Geography

Yuma is located at 32°41′32″N 114°36′55″W (32.692148, −114.615389), near the borders of California to the west and Mexico to the south, and just west of the Gila River’s confluence with the Colorado. The city is approximately 60 miles from the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), a branch of the Pacific.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 106.7 square miles (276 km2), of which 106.6 square miles (276 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.07%) is water.

Area
City 106.7 square miles (276.4 km),Land 106.7 sq mi (276.2 km), Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km) 0.07%

Climate

Yuma has a subtropical desert climate, with extremely hot summers and warm winters.

Humidity is usually low except during what are called “gulf surges”, when a moist air mass from the Gulf of California is drawn northward, usually in connection with the summer monsoon or the passage of a tropical storm to the south.

Yuma is the sunniest place on Earth, according to Guinness World Records. Of the possible 4,456 hours of daylight each year, the sun shines in Yuma for roughly 4,019 hours, or about 90% of the time.

The near-perfect weather for flying year-round attracts military interest in training their pilots here. On average Yuma receives 3.36 inches (85 mm) of rain annually, and even in the wettest year of 2005, only 7.39 in (188 mm) fell. The driest year at Yuma Airport has been 2007 with only 0.15 in (3.8 mm).

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