Although most of the history adventuring I do just in my imagination, and in cyberspace, sometimes I actually get a chance to get out there on the Arizona highways IRL (In Real Life). This Friday I will be exploring the road between Phoenix and Parker, Arizona, at what was the best way to cross the Colorado River in an automobile in 1918, at Bush's Crossing at the Parker Cut-Off.
Like all of my IRL history adventures, this started with something that I discovered which fascinated me, not the usual "historical" stuff. It's about everything that I'm interested in when it comes to history, what ordinary people did. In this instance, how did they drive from Phoenix to Los Angeles, considering that there's a fairly large river that needed to be crossed? Yes, I know that the railroads had done it for decades before that, but you can't drive a motorcar over a railroad bridge! At least you shouldn't. And by 1918, there were a LOT of cars that wanted to cross that river between Phoenix and LA.
|1918 ad for Bush's Crossing at Parker, Arizona|
Nowadays, of course, we don't give a thought to crossing the Colorado River. I've driven back and forth between LA and Phoenix more times than I can count, and I know that the crossing is at Blythe. That bridge has been there since 1928, but in 1918 the best place to cross was up near Parker, at Bush's Crossing. I'd like to find out more about Bush's Crossing, but right now all I have is an ad and a map that I found in an old newspaper at the Library of Congress. I'm sure I'll find out more, and I'll let you know, of course!
I make a better sight-seer than driver nowadays, so I'm going with a friend who just loves to drive. I'll be mapping out the way, and making suggestions for stops along the wayside, including GPS coordinates, and I'll provide the sandwiches. I always pack a delicious and nutritious lunch when I'm history adventuring IRL, because I don't want to worry about getting hungry. Yes, I know that there will be places to buy food, we're not wandering out into the middle of the desert, but I'd just rather not have to worry about it.
We'll be taking the old route from Phoenix to California, up around Wickenburg. But we won't be going to Blythe, we'll be going to Parker, which is called the Parker Cut-Off in the ad. That means heading northwest after we leave Salome (I've never been there, and I want to confirm how locals pronounce it), then through Vicksburg, Bouse, and on up to Parker. Of course there's a bridge there, and there has been since 1937, but there wasn't one in 1918, just a ferry that took automobiles across. So it's not as if we're going to see Bush's Ferry, we'll just be where it was. There may be an historical marker there, or it may have been forgotten about.
I'm looking forward to history adventuring IRL!
Image at the top of this post: the map to and from Bush's Crossing in 1916. I turned it sideways so it would make more sense to me. I like north to be up!
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