Welcome to Yuma, Arizona
This small town is an important point on the map and we have a Historic Downtown area that is rooted from a spot nearby the border of Winterhaven, California. This location has a list of fascinating historical events, which led to a very useful and preserved location.
The Gateway to the Southwest
The spot where the Colorado River meets the floodplains of the Gila River was used as a gateway for travelers headed west by Europeans who arrived in this area during the 1500’s. During this time, this was the best place for people to cross because it was a high enough place that was safe. In the mid-1800’s travelers used a rope ferry and crossed this same spot on the Colorado River. It wasn’t until 1873 that this spot and the portion of Arizona south of the Gila River and the Colorado City town site were named “Yuma.” This gateway was later named the Yuma Crossing. The history that makes up this area is very interesting and when I visited this site there was a plaque with details about this historic area.
About The Yuma Crossing Historic Area
In 1852 the U.S. Army established a fort on an Indian hill close to the Yuma Crossing, overlooking the river, operated until the 1880’s. It was called The Quartermaster Depot and includes a Siphon tunnel used for irrigation to the Yuma Valley. Across from the fort the Territorial Prison opened in 1876 and was being used until 1909. Both the Quartermaster Depot and the Territorial Prison are currently part of the State Historical Park. This tunnel was constructed underneath the Colorado River in 1912. Three years after the tunnel was completed, the opening of the Ocean to Ocean Bridge at the Yuma Crossing was the first railroad crossing of the Colorado River. The Yuma Crossing area also includes a test branch called the Proving Grounds. This was opened in 1951 and used for the purpose of testing military equipment. The Ocean to Ocean Bridge, Quartermaster Depot, Territorial Prison, and the Proving Grounds all consist of the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area. All of these places that make up this area are fun to see and they all have a unique tie to not only our community, but the state of Arizona. Yuman's are very proud to have the opportunity to enjoy this area on a regular basis if need be. There is a rope that hangs from the Ocean to Ocean Bridge where people can swing off of into the river.
Development of Gateway Park
In 2002 there was a renovation completed on the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge not only did it still have a railroad for trains to cross, but a parallel highway for vehicles to cross. In addition, Gateway Park was developed in 2007. This park was professionally landscaped around the Yuma Crossing Historic Area with trees, grass, a hiking trail, and new Centennial Beach recreation activities such as fishing, bird watching, and kayaking. The Colorado River currently takes a large part of meeting the water needs of our community by contributing to our productive agricultural areas. The Yuma Crossing Historic Area in large part by the Colorado River has not only been the gateway to Yuma’s efficient irrigation and conservation practices, or an asset to the large amount of military testing being done, but is the opportunity to provide a unique position and offer preservation. At the same time, celebrating the unique heritage it has and being a recreational spot for our residents and tourists in the desert southwest. There are shops and restaurants on Main Street near the Historic Area and there is a hotel and a playground right next to this area to attract residents and visitors to visit the area either for recreational use or to celebrate birthday parties or just shop. In the summer we do not need to utilize public pools, because the Centennial Beach is shallow enough to swim in. Others take their canoes and boats out deeper in the river and enjoy their time in the sun. There is a river rafting option too.
Come Visit us!
Residents who have lived here for decades appreciate that we have a place like this that we can go to and enjoy with our family and friends.
Visitor Information Center
At Colorado River State Historic Park 201 N. 4th Avenue Yuma, AZ 85364 1-800-293-0071 Local: 928-783-0071 Fax: 928-783-1897
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Visit Yuma Administrative Office
At Yuma Heritage Center 180 W. 1st Street, Suite D Yuma, AZ 85364 Local: 928-376-0100 Fax: 928-376-0133
Hours 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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