page 14

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page 14
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http://digital.library.unlv.edu/u?/dig,8
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14 DESERT WATERING PLACES IN CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA. The waters of Owens river which heads in the Sierra Nevada north of Mount Whitney, have been secured in part by Los Angeles, and are to be conducted across the desert to supply that city and the surrounding region with pure mountain water. For years a part of the waters that feed this river have been utilized on the fields of stockmen and farmers along its course, but the greater portion has been wasted in Owens Lake, a soda lake that has no outlet. Amargosa river rises in springs in the mountains northeast of Bullfrog and flows southward intermittently across the desert through Franklin Lake to Resting Springs Dry Lake. On leaving this lake it enters a canyon, about 10 miles long, between Black and Kingston mountains. From this canyon it emerges into the south end of Death Valley and turns westward to Saratoga Springs, whence it flows northwestward to the sink of Death Valley. The north end of Death Valley lies nearly due west of the head of this river so that the depression as a whole has the form of a long and narrow U. Ordinarily there is water at only a few places along the Amargosa channel, but when a cloud-burst occurs within its drainage area it may become for a few hours a raging torrent. At Resting Springs Dry Lake the stream at such a time has been over a mile wide and several feet deep. But since 1850 the river has not been known to carry enough water to flow on the surface as far as the lowest depression of Death Valley; and in its heaviest floods it rarely extends more than 4 or 5 miles below Saratoga Springs. The waters of the Amargosa are briny along its lower course. Where it widens out into the large playa at Resting Springs Dry Lake it leaves fields of salt as well as of borax and niter. The desert for many miles on either side of the river is dotted with spots and patches of salt. Hot springs discharge into it at a number of places. A dry wash marks the channel of the South Amargosa, which rises in Silurian Dry Lake, at the east end of the Avawatz Mountains, and runs northward to Salt Spring. Here it turns northwestward and joins the main river in South Death Valley, a few miles east of Saratoga Springs. Mohave river rises in the San Bernardino Mountains and flows northward. The Santa Fe Railway follows approximately its course to Daggett. There the river turns northeastward and is followed by the line of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad until it passes through the canyon at the Caves. East of this canyon it sinks finally in Soda Lake. The divide between Silver Lake, in the Mohave drainage basin and Silurian Dry Lake, the source of the South Fork of the Amargosa, in but 30 feet high, and consists only of sand. Thus the two river systems are separated by a very low and frail barrier.

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