In 1879, one John Codman published, as was the fancy of the day, the journals of his travels “Round Trip By Way of Panama through California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Colorado.”
His travels took him across the lower Colorado River desert, and he seems not to have liked it much:
This is the great American Sahara, which, although mostly in the limits of California, is called the “Colorado Desert,” and has become familiar to the public through the proposition of Dr. Wozencraft. That enthusiastic gentleman has long been endeavoring to persuade Congress to give the company he represents a right to turn the Colorado River into the desert for the purpose of irrigating a few million acres, and making them profitable as farming lands. I have not heard a single individual who has crossed this plain characterize this scheme as anything but insane, and now that we have seen it, I am fully of that opinion.
Dr. Wozencraft’s idea, as we have discussed previously, was to take advantage of the fact that the fertile bottomlands of the Salton Sink are below the grade of the Colorado River, using gravity to bring water and make the desert bloom.
Wozencraft died before his dream could come to fruition, but chances are good that if you ate lettuce today, it came from the Salton Sink, since renamed “Imperial Valley”.