My memories of Parker, Arizona.

Parker, Arizona is a small town built slightly east of the Colorado river, about ½ way between Blythe and Needles, California. I attended Parker High School with my cousin Wayne Stewart from 1958-1960.

In the view above, you have just left beautiful, downtown Earp, California, population Zero. This is Hiway 62 and the Colorado River is just below the Car bridge (center, left). After you cross the car bridge, you will be in Arizona. April, 2011 Photo

This view is looking mostly west, and shows the old train bridge. The AT & Santa Fe Railroad built a RR line from Phoenix, starting in 1905, and built this massive RR bridge from 1905-1908. They finished this RR line in 1910 in Cadiz, California, where it connected to their main line. The sandy colored building to the right of the train bridge is now a real estate sales office, but during my time, it was a nice restaurant. I am standing in the driveway of the now closed Texaco Gas station and truck stop (Now gone), which was the first thing that you would see when you came from the California side into Parker. March, 2005 Photo

This is your next sight, as you entered Parker. Although 9/11 has made some profound changes in many places in the US, I guess that sleepy Parker is not high tech enough to warrant the reopening of their inspection station. April, 2011 Photo

My next memory of Parker is of this place. This view, looking mostly west is of Deb's Garage & Welding. Darrell E. Brown is his real name, but DEB is much easier to say, so I guess that is how he got that name. Wayne & I worked as Mechanics for Deb in 1962 I think. At that time, Deb rented an old corrugated tin & power pole building about 3 blocks south of this location. March, 2005 Photo

This view, looking South is of the front of Deb's Garage & Welding. Behind this building are the railroad tracks, and on the other side of them was the A&W Drive in Restaurant, one of my favorite hangouts. It's gone now. March, 2005 Photo

Another of my favorites is this place. It WAS a Dairy Queen. Although It was closed the Sunday that I took this photo, it doesn't look dead yet. To the right of the plain white building was a small shack that was the Taxi dispatch building. It's gone now! April, 2011 Photo

Here is the center of Parker. The population was 3,140 at the 2000 census. I think it was about 1200 during the time that I attended school in Parker. Looking NorthEast from Arizona Avenue, the cross street is California Avenue, which is also Highway 62/95. Across the Street is the headquarters of the Arizona & California Railroad, who now own the old AT & Santa Fe tracks. Some things of interest, which used to be here....March, 2005 Photo

WAS the Branding Iron Restaurant, with the Arizona Hotel above it. Now it's a radio Shack! April, 2011 Photo

And on this corner was a large building with many small shops. Some that I remember are a dry goods store, Ray's place, a radio repair shop and on the corner was a Drug store with a Soda Fountain. In front of those building was a nice covered walkway, a great place to cool your brain. Parker is a VERY HOT place, so the covered walkway was a great way to cool down some. Above those stores was the California Hotel. It was owned by the bush family of Parker. April, 2011 Photo

This building, which is one block South of the center of Parker, was The Ford Garage. Now it's part of the Ford new and used car center. Wayne should definitely remember this place, as he bought is first new car here, a beautiful 1964 Black Mercury Comet with a 289 & a 4 speed Transmission. March, 2005 Photo

Down the street from the Ford Garage/Parker Motor Co is this place. When you are young, (I was at one time) the place to see and be seen was at the movie theater. Here is Parker's. In my opinion, the buttered popcorn was much better then most of the movies shown at this place. To the left of the Parker Theater was another favorite place of ours. It was a drug store with a Soda fountain with great tasting Cherry Flavored Cokes. Now it is an Office Supply Store. Across the street from this place was Guadeloupe Super Market, where most people in those days bought their groceries. Next block down (right) was the 2 room cop shop. To the right, about 300' is Kofa
Avenue, and if you go to it, and turn left, go 2 blocks down--- March, 2005 Photo

You will see this place, Parker High School. It's on the corner of Kofa & 16th St. Both streets were dirt then, not paved as you see it now. If I remember correctly, they had a graduating class of 23 the last year that I attended Parker High and Parker High had a total of about 260 students enrolled in the 4 grades. March, 2005 Photo

Here is a view of the original front entrance of Parker High School. My Cousin, Wayne Stewart & I attended classes in this, HOT, flat roof building. I attended the second ½ of my sofmore & junior years (1959-60) here. I also attended Azusa High School, where my parents lived. Getting to this school was quite a daily trip for us, as we lived in Jean Camp, California. We would catch the school bus at 6:45 AM every morning. The bus driver then drove down to the Parker Dam Village, and picked up the high school kids there. Then he drove South along the California side of the river and picked up the kids that lived at the Colorado river camps. By this time it was about 7:30 AM. Then we crossed over the Colorado River bridge and we were in Arizona. Now it's 8:30 AM , because Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time. By the time we got to Parker High it was about 8:45 AM. School started at 9 AM. School let out at 3 PM. Through a reverse of this process, we were home before 4 PM!! April, 2011 Photo

Below is some history about Parker from http://www.ci.parker.az.us/history.php

The Town of Parker is located within the northern corner of the Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation on a mesa overlooking the Colorado River at an elevation of approximately 450 feet above sea level. The Town of Parker is within the Sonora Desert located near river bottomland and rugged low desert mountains. The Gibraltar Mountains lie east of the community while the Whipple and Riverside Mountains lie to the north and southwest respectively.

The original town site of Parker was surveyed and laid out in 1909 by a railroad location engineer by the name of Earl. H. Parker. However, the Town’s name and origin began when a post office was established January 6, 1871, on the Colorado River Indian reservation to serve the Indian agency. The post office was named Parker in honor of General Eli Parker who was Commissioner of Indian Affairs when the Colorado River Indian reservation was established by Congress in 1865.

A railroad was laid in its present location in 1908, and Parker post office was moved upstream four miles to the railroad. Since the town site of Parker was laid out for the purpose of providing a railroad stopover, watering and shipping station, it was only logical that the railroad would run through the center of the Town. The Town was laid out on a grid of 100 –foot streets forming 300 x 4000 foot blocks with twelve 50- foot wide lots to a block. The Federal Government auctioned off lots in 1910.

Agricultural development, which is the present economical mainstay of the area, commenced on March 2, 1867, when Congress appropriated $50,000 for the Indians’ irrigation system. This money was used for the construction of the Grant-Dent canal from 1867 to 1871. Early irrigated farming was dismal and painstaking – banks washed away, canal caved in, wells served up alkali water, river flooding washed out new construction and equipment. However, these early failures did not discourage those who had visions of a great agricultural empire. By 1914 only 600 acres of Indian-owned land were being irrigated and inadequate drainage was water logging the majority of those acres. At this time, the Town of Parker had a population of 90, and the principal economic activity of the Town was a service and shipping center for agriculture and mining activities scattered throughout the area.

Regardless of the frustrations and problems connected with irrigation, agricultural activity on the reservation continued to expand while mining activity slackened. In 1936, over 5,000 acres of river bottomland were under irrigation. By 1941, when Headgate Rock Dam was constructed, there were 10,5000 acres of land under cultivation, and the guaranteed water level provided by the dam accelerated agricultural expansion. By 1955, 38,000 acres had been cleared for farming. During the time the Town of Parker took on the importance and character of a small agricultural service and shipping center. While Headgate Rock Dam ensure a controllable river water level, agricultural expansion proceeded at a rather fast pace. However, farming was plagued by high water tables, improper drainage and excessive salts rendering hundreds of acres useless for farming. This problem was resolved over the next seven years, and by 1963, land under cultivation accounted for 34,000 acres. Cotton became the big crop, and cotton gins were constructed in the Town of Parker. Between 1914 and 1937 Parker existed as a small community providing supplies and services to the agricultural and mining operations of the area, and in the late 1930’s it provided community facilities to the construction and administrative people working on federal projects along the Colorado River. After World War II, tourists, sportsmen, and winter residents also became attracted to the smooth waters behind Headgate Rock Dam.

In 1937, a highway bridge was completed across the Colorado River connecting Arizona to California, thus ending the ferry service that had been in operation for 27 years by Joe Bush and his wife, Nellie T. In 1928, Parker Dam was completed, thus ensuring better water control of the river and creating a lake approximately 700 feet wide and 16 miles long called Lake Moovalya, and Indian word meaning “blue water”. Thus the creation of, and ease of access to Lake Moovalya changed the character of the Town of Parker to some extent from a service center for agricultural and mining workers to one of providing supplies and services to tourists, fishermen, hunters, and boat enthusiasts. Due to the inability to provide long-term leases, agricultural expansion of Indian Reservation lands had come to a standstill. In 1962, Congress granted the right to make 99-year non-agricultural leases of Indian Reservation lands and early in 1963 provided the right to make 25-year agricultural development leases. On June 3, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the Colorado River Indian Reservation shall be entitled to enough water to irrigate 107,588 acres of agricultural land.

The Town of Parker officially incorporated as a town in 1948. In 1980, Parker annexed 13,000 acres of non-contiguous land ten miles to the southeast known as Parker South. In May 1982, by initiative petition, voters formed La Paz County from the northern portion of Yuma County. On January 1, 1983, Parker became the county seat for La Paz County.

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