But man has in measure changed the desert conditions by storing the waste waters of the mountains and reclaiming the valleys by irrigation. His success has been phenomenal. Out of the wilderness there have sprung farms, houses, towns, cities with their wealth and luxury. But the cultivated conditions are maintained only at the price of eternal vigilance. Nature is compelled to reap where she has not sown and at times she seems almost human in the way she rebels and recurs to former conditions. Two, three; yes, at times, four years in succession she gives little rain. A great drouth follows. Then the desert breaks in upon the valley ranches, upon the fields of barley, the orchards of prunes and peaches and apricots. Then abandoned farms are quite as plentiful as in New England and once abandoned but a few years elapse before the desert has them for its own.
John Van Dyke, The Desert, 1901