Obrázky na stránke
[graphic][merged small]


Our Two New States

By Charles Moreau Harger

YPICALLY American is State pride. In commonwealths with century-old records of accomplish. ment its expression is born of inherited admiration; in communities on the threshold of things it tells of hope and courage.

Yet when a dweller in mid-Arizona declares, "It's the finest State, in the Union -I wouldn't live anywhere else;" when a group of jubilant singers join in:

"You are the best in all the West,

New Mexico, New Mexico," to the air of "Maryland, My Maryland," it is a bit unsettling. Have we been blind, or are the enthusiasts misled? Neither; they but voice the satisfaction in opportunity, the joy that glorifies the experience of the pioneer.

Not that there is much pioneering these days in the two commonwealths just taking their full place in the Nation. That era is past. Said a woman whose cementwalled home defied the brilliant Arizona sun :

"What do they have in Illinois or Ne

braska that I lack? My house has electric lights, furnace, bathroom, telephone; I belong to a club, we take a daily paper, my neighbors are as intelligent as anywhere-what more do I need?" And three years ago the site of her dwelling was sage-brush desert!

She revealed the secret of the good cheer with which the new Southwest-in a sense the last Southwest-is working out its destiny: the possibility of securing the comforts of civilization at short notice -almost while you wait. Those of prairieschooner days knew nothing of it-to-day bare plain, to-morrow a community of modern homes.

For centuries 235,000 square miles of gray desert, blue hills, mesas, and valleys dozed under almost cloudless skies. The awakening has come in two distinct periods.

Said an old ranchman of New Mexico: "Eighteen years ago I moved here from Illinois. Practically all the Americans in New Mexico were from Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri. They drifted in after the war, just as Northerners went

to Kansas and Nebraska. They were stockmen; so are their descendants to-day. Ten years ago, when irrigation became a feature of agriculture, families from Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio arrived on homeseekers' excursions. Later, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas furnished settlers, until now we have folks from all over the East."

In Arizona the mines brought the first American residents. They came seeking copper, gold, silver. Later came the farmer and the home-builder. To-day on the streets of Phoenix or Bisbee is a cosmopolitan assembly representing every section of the Nation.

[ocr errors]

So on its 122,000 square miles New Mexico has 327,000 population; Arizona on its 113,000 square miles has 200,000. While historically and physically having much in common, the Territories are temperamentally far apart. It comes from their varied settlement," explained exGovernor J. H. Kibbey, of Arizona. "New Mexico's valleys run north and south, and the early Mexican sheep-herders pastured their flocks far northward. When given grants for more or less valuable services to ruler or conqueror, they chose lands with which they were familiar. The American settlers, westward bound, found a start made toward civilization, and stopped there in large numbers. In Arizona the valleys extend east and west, and the herders were less likely to cross deserts to reach them. The discovery of mines brought the Americans, and not until a later era came the farmer." So one State is pastoral, the other devoted more largely to mines, and each harbors a grievance against the East. "We have not received a square deal," said Governor R. E. Sloan, of Arizona. "The East has looked upon the Southwest as yet existing in the wild and woolly frontier period, with cowboys shooting up

the towns, with terrorism frequently rampant. On the contrary, no Eastern State community is better behaved or has a higher average of citizenship than these new States."

Perhaps the people themselves have furnished some excuse for the East's view. New Mexico usually appears typified by a wide, tilted-rimmed sombrero; a monument to Kit Carson is a feature of its capital city. Arizona erects monuments surmounted by broncho-busters. To the home folks they stand for picturesque features of their history; from a distance wrong impressions may be gained. After all, the big things of the Southwest are not cowboys, pueblos, giant cacti, painted deserts, relics of Aztec occupation, but the transformation being worked by an energetic, wide-awake American immigration that is doing for it what was done for the Middle West three or four decades ago.

Evidences are everywhere. In the suburbs of the little hamlet you see cottages that might have been transported, fully formed, from the Connecticut Valley; store buildings have no more the false square front hiding a gable, but are built on modern lines; cement walks stretch long white surfaces; and circling the head of a gilded statue of Our Lady of Lyons, adorning a chapel in historic Santa Fé, is a halo of electric lights!



In one direction do both States look for industrial progress-irrigation. Their mines produce great wealth, likely to increase as the hills are more thoroughly tested : their lumber camps are important. But mines and lumber camps do not bring homes; they attract migratory laborers whose interest is ephemeral. The farm makes for development of a social life. Only by irrigation can either State hope to build up such a feature. Month after month of cloudless skies and pulsating sun

[graphic][graphic][merged small]

light will not, even on good soil, raise crops. "Dry farming" is a delusion when the season is too dry. "Thousands of settlers have tried it and failed," said a Territorial officer. "No amount of cultivation can bring moisture from dry skies, and in most years it is a doubtful venture." Unless combined with ranching, the settler is unwise to seek a competency by that route. Better twenty acres under ditch than two hundred on the unwatered prairie. The expense of intensive culture necessary to raise crops with a minimum of rainfall is not repaid by the production. This hundreds of disappointed families have discovered.

Each State has its special pride in irrigation enterprise. New Mexico has approximately 500,000 acres under ditch, with 3,000,000 more amenable to artificial watering. It will take decades to utilize it all, but some day the waters of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, with the flow of smaller streams and surface moisture, will be conserved. The Pecos Valley is already practically all under the plow; the Mesilla Valley is rapidly being improved as settlers realize its possibilities. The Government Reclamation Service is expending millions in projects that will fertilize vast areas. Of these, that of the


Governor of Arizona

Rio Grande is largest. On that river, seventy-five miles north of Las Cruces, is located one of the greatest natural reservoir sites in the world. Below this site is the Mesilla Valley; then for twenty miles north of El Paso, and for a like distance below that city, in Texas, is another large area of extremely fertile land. Immediately across the river, in the Republic of Mexico, and in the vicinity of the city of Juarez, are found, approximately, 25,000 acres of equally valuable soil. Here the Elephant Butte project, to cost $9,000,000, one of the most important in the Reclamation Service undertakings, is to be constructed. For Mexico's share Congress appropriated $1,000,000. The total area watered will be 180,000 acres110,000 in New Mexico, 45,000 in Texas, and 25,000 in Mexico. In three or four years some storage will be provided.

Nearer completion is Arizona's portion in the Service's notable work-the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River, to be dedicated by Mr. Roosevelt next March. Here the Salt River Valley lies like an outstretched hand reaching westward, with a rock-bound gateway at the wrist. The great bulwark of masonry, built at a cost of $6,000,000, rears its 240 feet, a massive retainer of a lake covering 17,000

« PredošláPokračovať »