Monday, January 10, 2011

Yuha Well

Crossing Imperial County – Stop #3
Heading east, down the pass and out of the Jacumba Mountains, the wonderbar brings up KXO’s oldies out of El Centro at 1230 on the dial. Mmmm, tube radio, front and rear speakers…it can’t get any better. Actually the Delco trademark, ‘Wonderbar’ came along later, but the 1951 Cadillac was the first year any car had a station seeking mechanism.  All you had to do was press a button, and the radio would tune and stop at the next station.  There’s a spring motor to move what they called the ‘tuning slugs’, and when it got to the top of the dial, a giant electromagnet would pull it all back down. A detector circuit senses the radio signal, and a relay would drop out.  The relay had a mechanical pawl (like an extension ladder) which would stop the gear train, and the radio would be tuned to whatever station was next on the dial. This masterpiece of a  radio from Delco engineering weighed about the same as Fiat Topolino from the same year. To hear this Rube Goldberg device literally march up the dial and settle in on next station was often better than listening to the station it found.   

Going to the Yuha Well presents the dilemma of practicality over nobility; for the landmark and the site aren’t in the same place. Since the Cadillac is not fond of the open sandy desert surrounding the well site and time it would take to reach the site, the landmark at the rest area is chosen for the official count. Besides, it’s a rest area, and the importance of restrooms on trips like these cannot be overstated. We’re in the middle of the Yuha Desert above the Yuha buttes, Yuha wash, and Yuha Basin, so why the rest area is named ‘Sunbeam Rest Area’ is confounding.
From the album booklet:
Had it not been for the Yuha wells, the de Anza expedition of 1774 may well have ended in disaster. The actual well site is nearby in the open desert, but accessible only by four-wheel drive. 
The first Anza expedition had 21 soldiers, 5 mule packers, 1 interpreter, a carpenter and 2 personal servants. It also included a courier, 2 Franciscan friars and Sebastian Tarabal, a Baja California Indian who had just walked to Sonora from Mission San Gabriel (near Los Angles) in California. Juan Bautista de Anza did not travel light. 

A common test when water was found was to have an animal drink first and wait and see what happens

Plaque Inscription: No. 1008 YUHA WELL
Known as Santa Rosa de Las Lajas (Flat Rocks), this site was used on March 8, 1774 by the Anza Exploring Expedition, opening the land route from Sonora, Mexico, to Alta California. On December 11 to 15, 1775, the three divisions of Anza's colonizing expedition used this first good watering spot beyond the Colorado River on the way from Sonora to San Francisco.

Location: Eastbound Sunbeam Roadside Rest Area, between Drew and Forrester Roads (P.M. R31.3), on I-8 near Seeley
Google maps:  32.773437,-115.670649
Yuha Well is 32 miles from Desert Tower

Here’s a link to a video sample of the song:

‘Yuha Well’ is intended as a call and response song for kids and after a little set up discussion over a De Anza photo,  the kids say YaHoo! every time the singer says ‘Yuha’….lotsa fun. .


Chorus - Yuha, Yuha, we're going to the Yuha well. (2x)

Juan Bautista de Anza, over 200 years ago
Ran the first expedition, first to the Yuha well

Juan Bautista de Anza, in 1774
Named this place in the Valley, Santa Rosa de las Lejas


Many sources in the desert, had water unsafe to use
So there was a test they used to make, from an animal’s point of view

Take a horse a mule or oxen, when you reached an untested well
And at the uncertain water, and let him drink his fill

You'd wait for 24 hours, to see if the animal fell
If the critter kept his health, you knew you had a good well

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