Carrizo Creek Station

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Carrizo Creek Station was a former stage station of the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and Butterfield Overland Mail now located in Imperial County, California just east of the San Diego County line, it lies within the boundaries of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park just west of the Carrizo Impact Area. Its site is located along the bank of Carrizo Creek. [1]

Stage station Place to change exhausted horses, shortening travel times

A Stage station or Relay station, also known as a staging post, a posting station, or stage stop is a place where an exhausted horse or horses could be replaced by fresh animals. A long journey was much faster with no delay to rest horses.

Butterfield Overland Mail

Butterfield Overland Mail was a stagecoach service in the United States operating from 1858 to 1861. It carried passengers and U.S. Mail from two eastern termini, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California. The routes from each eastern terminus met at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then continued through Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, and California ending in San Francisco. On March 3, 1857, Congress authorized the U.S. postmaster general, Aaron Brown, to contract for delivery of the U.S. mail from Saint Louis to San Francisco. Prior to this, U.S. Mail bound for the Far West had been delivered by the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line since June 1857.

Imperial County, California County in California ----, United States

Imperial County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 174,528. The county seat is El Centro. Established in 1907 from a division of San Diego County, it was the last county to be formed in California.



Carrizo, the site of the Carrizo Stage Station, lies on the Southern Emigrant Trail where Carrizo Creek flowed at the surface most of the year and often provided the first flowing water to travelers on that route after they had left the Colorado River. Earlier Carrizo, had been a watering place for the local Native Americans, Spanish explorers, Mexican traders, American fur trappers and soldiers.

Southern Emigrant Trail

Southern Emigrant Trail, also known as the Gila Trail, the Kearny Trail, Southern Trail and the Butterfield Stage Trail, was a major land route for immigration into California from the eastern United States that followed the Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico during the California Gold Rush. Unlike the more northern routes, pioneer wagons could travel year round, mountain passes not being blocked by snows, however it had the disadvantage of summer heat and lack of water in the desert regions through which it passed in New Mexico Territory and the Colorado Desert of California. Subsequently, it was a route of travel and commerce between the eastern United States and California. Many herds of cattle and sheep were driven along this route and it was followed by the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line in 1857-1858 and then the Butterfield Overland Mail from 1858 - 1861.

Colorado River major river in the western United States and Mexico

The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Starting in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the river flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the Arizona–Nevada border, where it turns south toward the international border. After entering Mexico, the Colorado approaches the mostly dry Colorado River Delta at the tip of the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora.

Military Storehouse

The 1855 Railroad Survey expedition camped at Carrizo in June and its report described the place:

Carrizo creek runs over a series of stratified clays and gravels, derived from the decomposition of the primary rocks, chiefly syenite, loose drifted pebbles of which cover up the sand beds of the valley. Through this sand the Carrizo, in places, cuts its way very deeply. At the camp (June 3) on the river, the sand is deposited unconformable to the primitive rocks, upon whose side it reposes. It is mainly composed of disintegrated syenitic rock.

The storekeeper inhabiting the adobe house, newly built at camp, informed us that, for the eight months previous to our visit, it had not rained but once, and then for eight hours heavily; at the foot of such lofty, rough crested hills, rain, indeed, must be scarce, yet the evidences of running water are displayed in the base of the triangular valleys leading out from the range, where large stones are washed out of the clay and sand and heaped together, the result of existing causes.

The temperature at Carrizo on the 3d June at noon was 100° Fahrenheit, and rose to 102° later in the day. The effect of this heat was visible on the stream, which ceased flowing about 11 o'clock, and did not recommence until near 4 p. m., being absorbed or evaporated during the interval ; two miles below it completely disappears in the sand. [2]

At Carrizo Creek the mail company used the adobe constructed by the military in June 1855, as a station building. It was described by a correspondent as, an old adobe house with the thatch roof burned off, occupied by William Mailland in the fall of 1857. [3]

Stagecoach Station

The station at Carrizo Creek became an important link in the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line. It functioned as one of seven major stations west of the Rio Grande River. Passengers at Carrizo Creek disembarked here to change coaches leaving the east-bound stage from San Diego and boarded another that ran between Carrizo and Fort Yuma. [4] The coach remained at the station until the other returned with west-bound passengers that had boarded in Yuma. Watering stations were established at an average of 30 mile intervals [5]

That first Carrizo station keeper, William Mailland, in a drunken fit brutally killed his Native American wife in May 1858. Fearing revenge by the local natives and arrest by authorities after he sobered up, he was said to have fled into the desert and was believed to have died, while an acquaintance claimed he had been seen east of the Colorado River, fleeing to Sonora. [6]

Under the Butterfield Overland Mail, Carrizo Station like other stations functioned as a changing or "swing" station that replaced teams with fresh horses. Carrizo had a single keeper, a hostler, who took care of the livestock and with the driver changed the teams. [7]

After the Butterfield Overland Mail shut down in March 1861, the Union Army used the station as a camp on their road to Fort Yuma and Arizona Territory. It became a stage station again for the Banning and Thomlinson lines from 1867 until 1877 when the railroad arrived in Fort Yuma making the route obsolete.

Modern Discoveries At The Site

During March and April 2001, a systematic archaeological testing program was implemented at Carrizo Stage Station site. The initial field test excavations and artifact analysis confirmed the presence of two structures and artifactual remains of the 1857 to 1877 Carrizo Stage Station. After excavation it was subsequently reburied and erosion protection features were installed to prevent further damage to the site. [8]

Coordinates: 32°52′30″N116°6′1″W / 32.87500°N 116.10028°W / 32.87500; -116.10028

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