CALIPATRIA AND NILAND
BY HARRY H. CLARK
BEFORE Imperial Valley was ever heard of as a settlement the Southern Pacific Railroad was granted every other
section of land lying between parallel lines for twenty miles on each side of its right of way, this grant being
made by Congress to encourage the building of transcontinental railways in the days when there was no railroad
across the continent. This concession included all of the district lying north of the third parallel in Imperial
Valley. In order to settle up this country it was necessary to build the main canal, with its hundreds of miles
of laterals, and as there was no way by which this could be done except by the sale of water stock, and as the
owner of land could not be forced to purchase water stock unless he desired to use the water upon his land, the
Southern Pacific not being willing to purchase the stock for these alternate sections, it was too heavy a burden
upon the even numbered sections, they constituting only one half of the acreage. This part of the Valley consequently
lay idle until four years ago, when an association purchased all of the lands of the Southern Pacific in the Valley
and immediately advanced $300,000 in cash, which, with the addition of the stock sold for the even numbered sections,
permitted them to form mutual Water Company No. 3 and build the necessary canals and laterals, which were started
four years ago and are now a complete unit.
Four years ago there was no land under cultivation in this district. Today we have upwards of 70,000 acres under
cultivation. The soils and climate of the North End are very similar to those of other parts of the Valley, the
North End lands having possibly a little more slope towards the sea, on account of being in what is known as "the
neck of the Valley."
Since that time, two thriving towns have been built, Calipatria, with over half a million dollars' worth of buildings,
and Niland. with many good, substantial buildings, and having at the present time under construction the finest
bank building, and seven concrete stores, in the Valley. The Salton Sea, later named Imperial Lake, is in this
district, our lands bordering the sea. This somewhat tempers the extreme heat in the summer and also the colder
winds of the winter.
As an illustration of the wonderful settlement of this North End, we have three large warehouses in Calipatria,
the Balfour-Guthrie Company, the Globe Mills and Newmark's. These warehouses could hold but a portion of the barley
crop harvested last spring, and the manager of the Globe Mills told me that they were now emptying their large
warehouses here for the third time this season.
We have every convenience of older communities, such as electric lights, electric power, telephone system, water
systems and every kind of mercantile enterprise is represented by from one to three or four modern stores. We have
two strong banks and at the present time plans have been approved and material is arriving for the construction
of the largest and most complete railroad depot east of Pomona and west of Phoenix. The railroad companies never
build anything on sentiment. They would not build this kind of a depot if the business of the country did not justify
Again, there is a vast acreage of splendid farming land southwest of here which is now tapped by a branch line
from Calipatria to Westmoreland, which will be later extended to a connection with the San Diego road. The rights
of way have been secured and the work laid out to build another branch east and south some 23 miles, giving to
that vast territory an outlet and bringing the business of both sections to Calipatria.
As an indication of how the country has improved and the possibilities of improving this "Valley of the Nile",
some of the wonderful crops grown here might be cited. For instance, we have records here of alfalfa yielding twelve
tons to the acre. W. A. Kennedy, who took a piece of raw land three years ago, sowed it to alfalfa two years ago,
and recently received $5000 in cash for a hundred days' pasturage on 160 acres. There are thousands of acres of
alfalfa land here now rented from $20 to $25 per acre per year, and when we think that only three short years ago
this was a desert, the mind can scarcely comprehend the possibilities for the future.
Here we are successfully growing cotton, alfalfa, barley, Milo maize, potatoes, onions, cabbage, lettuce, cantaloupes,
and all the vegetables grown in a semi tropical country, and growing them very profitably. Men are even known to
raise crops in one season that sold for more money than the land cost them.
Calipatria is an unincorporated town, controlled by a business men's association, comprising forty three active
business men as members. We have three churches, a Catholic, a Congregational and a Seventh Day Adventist. We have
a $35,000 schoolhouse and the trustees are now securing plans for an addition to it, as we have 193 scholars enrolled
and our buildings are not large enough to accommodate them. We are also at the present time putting out petitions
for a union high school.
The North End comprises a territory about eighteen by twenty miles, of which Calipatria and Niland are the two
towns. Niland is located at the junction of the Imperial Valley branch and the main line of the Southern Pacific,
and is destined to be a good town in the no distant future; and Calipatria, situated in the center of this enormous
agricultural district, is destined to be one of the largest towns in Imperial County within the next five years.
Our water system of the district is probably one of the most perfect in the United States, as for every delivery
ditch, or lateral, there has been built a corresponding drainage ditch, which forever prevents this land from becoming
water logged, or raising the water level to a danger point.
If three short years of settlement have brought about all these things mentioned, what can we expect this to be
in ten years from now? With more intense cultivation, with the large tracts being cut up into small acreage (140
ten acre tracts have been sold around Calipatria) it will mean a population in ten years from now greater than
the entire Imperial Valley at the present time.
Land values have doubled and trebled in three years, some of the lands having sold as high as $300 an acre that
three years ago could have been bought for from $75 to $100.
Imperial County is blessed with one particular thing, and that is good health. There is only one practicing physician
in the North End of the Valley, and if it were not for the visits of the stork he says that he would have to move
out. We have no malaria, typhoid or malignant fevers, and while we do have the ordinary hot summers of the low
elevations, yet having no humidity, it causes no bad effects, but on the contrary makes vegetation grow prolifically.
We are feeding upwards of 15,000 head of cattle now in the North End of the Valley, about 12,000 head of sheep,
3000 head of goats and thousands of head of hogs. It is the paradise of the poultry raiser, on account of the dry
climate and abundance of green feed the year around. Imperial County is one great big family, all working in harmony
for the whole Valley, and is destined to be the greatest agricultural community in the world; and while only an
infant, it has already taken the lead in the state as the greatest producer of butter, hogs, cattle, turkeys, alfalfa,
cotton and Milo maize, and this all in the short time of seventeen years.