River Beat: The Flood of 1905

I love this picture of what I can only assume are three rascals defying their mothers and swimming in the New River, in the Imperial Valley of Southern California in 1905.

New River, Imperial Valley, 1905

New River, Imperial Valley, 1905, Courtesy USGS

The New River, in the incarnation seen here, was formed when the Colorado River ate through a poorly built intake structure and chewed up the canals that were supposed to be carrying water to make what had been called the Colorado Desert, ambitiously renamed Imperial Valley, bloom with agricultural riches. The flooding was no doubt a disaster for these teenagers’ families, but they seem to be enjoying themselves.


  1. What, no email link?

    Well, then I will have to politely disagree with you that the New River’s origins were in the formation of the Salton Sea, as the New River is referred to in this page from the Imperial Valley Press in 1901, an advertisement for the “Imperial Settlement”:


    Embarassingly enough, I should be able to tell you more about the origins, and why it is called the New River,as it is ‘new’, relatively speaking. I am working on an extensive project on the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea, and I have done a ton of research. I am just getting back to the project after a year because I had other (paying) projects that took priority.

    I would like to ask you a question about historical photos on the internet that would needlessly fill your comment section, so if you could email me so I could ask you, I’d sure appreciate it.

    Enjoy your Sunday!


    Chris Austin

  2. Chris –

    Thanks for the comment. You missed my weasel words – “in the incarnation seen here”. 🙂

    I’ve been digging into this history too, for the book on which I’m working. Godfrey Sykes boated the New River in the flood of 1891. His book “The Colorado River Delta” is a remarkable history of the old geography if you haven’t run across it yet. The New River seems to have been one of the old channels that carried water northward periodically, during those periods when the river went on a northward rather than southward path.

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