After four years of construction just north of Yuma Arizona, the Laguna Dam became operational. It was the very first dam constructed on the Colorado River and was built to divert water for the irrigation of many thousands of acres in the desert areas of southern Arizona and California.
In 1938 the Imperial dam was built several miles upriver from the Laguna Dam. That construction made the Laguna Dam redundant and the need for it to divert Colorado River water was eliminated forever. As with most redundant things in the desert, the Laguna Dam was not destroyed. The dam and many of the works relating to it are still there. Two of those related items are one of the main diversion gates and a bridge leading from the closest road to the top of the dam. They were saved because it was a part of Arizona history. Many Arizonans didn't want these things saved, in fact, they were many civilian pickax attacks on the bridge and diversion gate. The authorities had to protect these things with armed guards. Now, like most things in the desert than have outlived their usefulness this place is left to erode away. Most of the locals don't even know it's there.
You might be wondering why some people wanted this bridge and gate destroyed. Well, here are the answers to those questions.
It doesn't look like anything special from here.
When I saw this, I didn't know what to think...
No matter how you look at it, that bridge is adorned with Swastikas.
Like most of the things we find, this one is also in the middle of nowhere.
Here is the diverter gate. It looks innocent enough.
Obligatory black and white
There hasn't been any water in this thing for decades.
A closer look at the gate. The construction date of 1907 is clearly visible.
I climbed thorough a hole in the fence and climbed out onto the gate to get this photo.
I really liked this view, barbed wire and all.
Another string of them.
Obviously, these things were imprinted into the concrete many years before the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, but many people around the Yuma area during the war weren't buying it. There were many rumors relating to who did this and why. The truth is that this symbol has been used in many cultures for hundreds of years and was usually thought of as a positive thing. Still, when I saw these things last month, in the year 2013, I FELT them. I can see why people tried to destroy them with picks, but I can also see why they are protected.
I truly think that this is the oddest thing we've run across in all the time we've spent roaming the deserts of the southwest. It got a lot odder when I was doing some research on the "Swastika Bridge." Authorities in Arizona consider these things to be part of the historical record of their state. I get that, because these things were built many years before the rise of the Nazi Party. What I don't understand though, is why did they have Swastikas on their state highway signs into the 1940's?
Fact truer than fiction...