Monday, January 7, 2008

Historic Yuma Territorial Prison and growing veggies....

On Monday we drove about 12 miles into Yuma to tour the Yuma Territorial Prison. This historic prison was the Arizona Territory's first prison, built in 1876, and housed many "outlaws" of the desert terrain. This was a prison the bad guys wanted to avoid at any cost. A stark, stone and iron structure, with beds stacked 3 high and 6 each, to a 6' X 9' cell, it had an infamous reputation. Despite it's reputation, written evidence indicates the prison was humanely administered and was a model institution for it's time. The only punishments were confinement in a "dark cell" which was a dungeon type cavity with it's only light coming in through a 15" diameter hole in the top, through which food and water were lowered to it's inmates, and the ball and chain, which was used for prisoners who tried to escape. Seems it might still be a "model institution" for some today!

On the drive into Yuma we were amazed at the agriculture in the area, and the infrastructure supporting it. There are vast, green fields being irrigated and growing many varieties of lettuce, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and many other veggies. On the other side of Interstate 8, there is a legion of packing and shipping docks called "cold plants". There are hundreds of trucks lined up and waiting to receive their load and expedite the fresh produce to the rest of us across the country. The packing and loading goes on until late in the night, until all the produce is shipped.

On the opposite side of the road from the docks are vast lots filled with crates of flattened cardboard boxes from Georgia Pacific and Westvaco. It seemed like miles of crates stacked high with the cartons awaiting their turn to be assembled and filled. This industry never stops, as the growers, packers, and truckers perform their intricate little dance so we can have fresh salads at home in the East!

Tomorrow we will cross the border into Mexico!

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