Colorado River State Historic Park

Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park


After operating the Park as Yuma Crossing State Historic Park for almost 10 years, the Park staff under the leadership of Park Manager Gerry Emert requested that the Park's name be changed. The staff felt that Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park better reflected the original nature of the site and its interpretive focus. The proposed name change was brought to the State Parks Board for consideration at the March 15, 2007, meeting. Following the staff presentation, the Parks Board unanimously approved the recommendation to change the Park's name. The park was renamed the Colorado River State Historic Park in October of 2017.

5 centuries of history in its museum and along its winding pathways through 9 acres past 6 restored and 6 replicated buildings. The park is a salute to historic modes of transportation and is recognized as a key location in the cultural and educational development of western history by the National Endowment for the Arts.
General Information

Rates & Fees

Seasons / Hours

Park and Facility Hours

CLOSED: Sunday – Monday

OPEN: Tuesdays – Saturdays

Museum 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Gift Shop 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Visitor Center

The Visitor Center, in the museum, contains drinking water, modern, handicapped-accessible restrooms.

Geography & Climate

Location & Setting

Yuma Crossing State Historic Park is situated on 9 acres along the Colorado River in Yuma, Arizona. It is located at the Fourth Avenue exit south from Interstate 8. After crossing the Colorado River, the entrance to the park is on the east side of Fourth Avenue.

Climate & Weather

The park is located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert at an elevation of 140 feet. Yuma is one of the warmest and the sunniest cities in the US. It has a classic low desert climate with extremely low relative humidity and very high summer temperatures. Average summer highs exceed 100 degrees F for 4 months; winter average maximum temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. Yuma receives less than 4 inches of precipitation annually.

Description

History

Yuma Crossing State Historic Park sits on the trade route used by the Paytans, a prehistoric people living in the Western portion of Arizona. It wasn't until the Spanish arrived in the area and tried to claim this important river crossing, that the ongoing battle began for control of the Crossing. During the 1770s, Juan Bautista de Anza and Padre Francisco Garces made several expeditions crossing the Colorado with the help of local Indians. In 1781, the Quechans rebelled against the Spanish intruders, killing many and then ultimately controlling the Crossing for nearly 70 years.

With the discovery of gold in California in 1848, gold-seekers began crossing the Gila River on Quechan lands. The peaceful Quechans soon learned they could be paid to carry goods across the Colorado on rafts and to swim travelers' animals across. The Quechans established a commercial ferry operation, which competed with a ferry business run by John Glanton, a local gang leader, After Santiago, the local Quechan chief, was severely beaten by Glanton, the Quechans invaded his cabin and the ferry crossing area, killing him and most of his gang.

Outraged, the new California government formed a renegade force of 142 men paying them $6 a day to avenge the death of the ferrymen. This "Gila Expedition" failed miserably and a prolonged Quechan siege of their makeshift fort cost the state of California $113,000, almost bankrupting it.

In 1850, US Army troops reached the Colorado River to build an army post at the river crossing and set up "Fort Yuma" on the western, California, banks. Wagon trains tried to bring barley and other food to the Fort from San Diego and then later by schooners around the Baja point. All were unsuccessful. A big steamer called the Invincible tried to sail with cargo upriver but got stranded. Camp Yuma was abandoned on June 6, 1851. A small force was left to defend the ferry area and the camp was called "Camp Independence."

Yuma Crossing State Historic Park is the site of the Yuma Quartermaster Depot, used by the US Army to store and distribute supplies for all the military posts in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas. A 6-month supply of clothing, food, ammunition and other goods was kept at the depot at all times. The supplies were brought from California by ocean vessels traveling around the Baja Peninsula to Port Isabel, near the mouth of the Colorado River. There, cargos were transferred to river steamers and brought upstream to Yuma.

The supplies were unloaded near the stone reservoir just west of the commanding officer's quarters and hauled up on a track running from the river dock through the center of the storehouse. They were shipped north on river steamers or overland by mule-drawn freight wagons. The depot quartered up to 900 mules and a crew of teamsters to handle them.



The Southern Pacific Railroad reached Yuma in 1877, and Tucson in 1880. After the Depot's pumps, steam engines and equipment were removed to Fort Lowell near Tucson, The Yuma Quartermaster Supply Depot was terminated in 1883.

The Signal Corps established a telegraph and weather station at the Depot in 1875. They remained until 1891 and were succeeded by the US Weather Service, which was established as a separate agency and operated at the depot site until 1949.

The commanding officer's quarters were acquired by the US Customs Service about 1908, and were the home of four families until 1955. The Bureau of Reclamation, the Boundary Commission, the Yuma County Water Users Association, and the Assistance League of Yuma have also utilized portions of the old depot during the 20th century.

The Yuma Crossing State Historic Park Grand Re-Opening occurred September 27 and 28, 1997.

Things To Do

  • Hike the 90-acre area bordering the Colorado River.
  • Picnicking
  • Tour the Transportation Museum featuring many examples of pre-1930 era transportation. Model T's, trucks, trains, stagecoaches, buckboards, covered wagons, and carriages.
  • Stage and amphitheater provide entertainment and workshops.
  • Visit the Gift shop

    There are hotels and motels in Yuma, with something for every taste and price range.

    Camping & RV ParksThere are numerous camping and RV accommodations in and around Yuma. For more information, contact:

    • Yuma Convention and Visitors Bureau
      377 S. Main Street, Yuma, Arizona 85364
      928-782-0071 - email: info@yumachamber.org
    • Arizona State Parks 602-542-4174
    • Arizona National Forests 800-280-CAMP
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