Desert Messenger

September 19, 2012

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September 19, 2012 Desert Messenger celebrates the Arizona Centennial with Voices from The Past in Quartzsite, AZ Excerpts from "In the Shadow of Saguaros" by Rosalee Oldham Wheeler La Paz - A Town of Gold Rush & Goldwaters In 1853, mining in Arizona began in earnest after the Gadsden Purchase was surveyed and the treaty signed. Capitalism moved the Arizona Gold Rush along as enterprising Ameri- cans along with citizens of the world pursued their dreams of prosperity. There was no crown or church de- manding a share of their gains or con- trol their property. They only needed 'Lady Luck' and she never required the miners to give her a share of their new- found wealth. In 1862, 'Lady Luck' smiled upon the miners of La Paz and the news of a new gold strike quickly brought fortune hunters ready to believe the stories of gold nuggets just waiting to be plucked from the earth. The population quick- ly grew to almost fi fteen hundred, be- coming one of the largest settlements in Arizona Territory, lacking just one vote to become the territorial capital. In the 1860s, Joseph and Mike Gold- water arrived in La Paz to open a store that would provide supplies to the miners including stur- dy denim work pants provided by their friend Levi Strauss of San Francisco. Thus, began the dist inguished Ehrenberg. The Goldwater's later re- named the settlement Ehrenberg, who had fi rst surveyed and mapped out the town. Born in Prussia in 1816, Ehren- berg immigrated to American in 1834, fi rst going to Texas where he enlisted to fi ght for independence from Mexico. After being discharged with a ci- tation of valor, Eh- r e n b e r g went back to Germany where he received his educat ion as a mining e n g i n e e r and land surveyor at Freiburg Univer- sity later returning to America where he drew many of the maps used during that period, including the survey and fi rst maps for Arizona City (now Yuma). On a trip up the Colo- rado River, Ehrenberg met Charles D. Poston and they teamed up their various back- grounds into a mining venture. Ad for J. Goldwater Bro Goldwater mercantile enterprise. The Colorado River, untamed and overburdened with the Rocky Moun- tain snowmelt of 1868, went on a ram- page spreading its shores over two miles wide in some places. When the water subsided, the river had depos- ited a sandbar nearly a half-mile wide that re-channeled the river's course one mile east of La Paz. The river port town was now a high and dry with a useless landing. Undaunted, the Goldwater brothers moved six miles downstream and built a wharf at Mineral City, the new set- tlement of their good friend Herman with Poston and assaying their poten- tial. Using his mining education, he developed new methods to excavate, transport, and smelt various minerals. He assayed and fi led over a hundred mining claims. He also surveyed his vision for a perfect town and named it Mineral City. On October 9, 1866, while traveling alone to San Bernardi- no, Ehrenberg was robbed and mur- dered as he slept in his bedroll near the Springs of Dos Palmas on the old San Bernardino / Yuma Road, about six miles northeast of the Salton Sea. It was said that Ehrenberg was carry- ing $3,500 in gold. busy in his survey and map business, began exploring for new mines Ehrenberg, still very Government House, Ehrenberg, Circa 1872 1870s, the new river port town of Ehrenberg was an impor- tant stop for riv- erboats as well as a primary river crossing between the in- terior cities of California and Arizona. The main businesses in Ehrenberg then consisted of the J. Goldwater & Bro General Store and the J.M. Barney & J.M. Castenado's Store. J.B. Tuttle had a large blacksmith and wagon re- pair shop, while Jack Schwartz man- aged the billiard hall, and Tom Good- man built a hotel. In 1872, the town hired its fi rst school- teacher, Mary Elizabeth Post. The much-needed s choolhouse had once been occupied as a saloon. A polit- ical precedent was also estab- lished when Joe Goldwater was appointed the postmaster of Ehrenberg's fi rst post offi ce In the early on September 20, 1869. However, by the early 1900s the rail- roads had all but replaced the slow and unreliable steamboats. Dams on the Colorado River made river travel between Yuma and points north out- dated with the transportation system shifting to automobiles. Today little remains of the original settlement of La Paz. Martha Sum- merhays, one of the fi rst ladies to call Ehrenberg her home back in 1875, re- called in her memoirs, Vanished Arizo- na – Recollections of the Army Life of a New England Woman, of her concern when she saw how coyotes had dug up portions of newly buried bodies. In 1910, O.L. Grimsley built a dredge- type operation. He built a large stone reservoir on a hill overlooking Good- man Wash to pump water from the river for a hydraulic dredge. Before completing the project, he was killed in an auto accident. The ruins of this mining operation can be seen about four miles north of Ehrenberg on the Poston-Parker Road. The 'Sunset Trail' between Califor- nia and Arizona was paved and be- came known as U.S. Highway 60-70. The new bridge spanning the Colorado River gave Ehrenberg new life. In 1912, the Colorado River again Page 9 The Remnants of La Paz After the Flood of 1868 fl ooded the settlement of La Paz, fur- ther melting to the ground what was left of the adobe structures. Today, it is diffi cult to identify the location of the settlement where the inhabitants once held their dreams of wealth and new beginnings. Standing in the dust of the melted adobes, I wondered if – like from the ashes of the Phoenix bird – could a beautiful new city rise up from the dust to overlook the now tamed Colorado in the shadow of saguaros. I think Mar- tha Summerhays would approve, and so would the Goldwater brothers, as would Herman Ehrenberg and a host of others who caught the vision of La Paz, a beautiful city of peace. 425 N. 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