This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Why trees were planted in territorial Phoenix


Contrary to popular belief, Phoenix, Arizona has a lot of water. Yes, the valley is a desert, but it's along the course of an enormous amount of water that has rushed down for the past ten thousand years along the course of the Salt River, whose source begins in one of the largest watersheds on planet earth, the uplifted area northeast of Phoenix.

Of course if you walk around Phoenix, all you see a desert. If you were to walk around Phoenix 100 years ago, you would have seen a LOT of desert. Dirt, cactus, tumbleweeds. And all of the engineers in the world could have pointed to the technology of the series of dams along the Salt River, including Roosevelt Dam, without making much of an impression on people who were thinking of investing in the Salt River Valley. They wanted to see if things really could grow there. And just like Southern California, it started with trees, especially palm trees.

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Seeing a pamphlet, or a map, that explains the steady supply of water that an area has isn't as impressive as seeing something growing in the desert, like trees. And Phoenix had a lot of trees. It all comes down to selling real estate. And nothing says oasis like trees.

The Salt River Valley Watershed. Impressive, but not as impressive as trees.