Fort Mohave

Fort Mohave is a historic settlement located in the southwestern region of Mohave county, Arizona, United States. Nestled along the banks of the Colorado River near Beale’s Crossing, it has played a significant role in the development and growth of the American West. Over the centuries, this area has witnessed the presence of various indigenous tribes, Spanish explorers, American pioneers, and military forces, each leaving their mark on the region’s rich history.

The history of Fort Mohave dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human habitation found in archaeological sites within the surrounding area. The Mojave people, from whom the fort derived its name, were one of the prominent Native American tribes in the region. They lived along the Colorado River, engaging in agriculture, hunting, and trade with other indigenous groups.

The first recorded European contact in the area occurred in the 16th century when Spanish explorers, including Melchor Díaz and Francisco Garcés, ventured into present-day Arizona. They encountered the Mojave people and established a limited presence in the region through the establishment of missions and trade routes. However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that significant European-American exploration and settlement occurred.

In 1826, trapper and explorer Jedediah Smith traversed the Colorado River, reaching the vicinity of Fort Mohave. His expedition paved the way for subsequent fur trappers and traders who ventured into the area in search of beaver pelts and new trade opportunities. This influx of fur trappers and mountain men led to increased interaction between Native American tribes and Euro-Americans, often resulting in conflicts and tensions.

The establishment of Fort Mohave came about as a direct response to these conflicts. In 1858, the U.S. Army constructed the fort on the east bank of the Colorado River, near the confluence of the Mohave and Hardy rivers. Initially known as Camp Colorado, its primary purpose was to protect American settlers and travelers on their journey to the California gold fields during the height of the Gold Rush.

Fort Mohave was strategically positioned along the major transportation route that linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, known as the Mojave Road. It served as a critical outpost for the U.S. Army during the American Civil War, as troops were deployed to protect the mail and telegraph lines and maintain control over the region.

 Indians at Fort Mojave, Arizona, Sicihoot, War Chief of the Mojaves. - Photographer: Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882
Indians at Fort Mojave, Arizona, Sicihoot, War Chief of the Mojaves. – Photographer: Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882

The fort played a significant role in the military campaigns against Native American tribes, particularly the Mojave, Chemehuevi, and Navajo people, who were resisting the encroachment of settlers on their traditional lands. Numerous skirmishes and battles occurred in the area as tensions escalated between Native Americans and the expanding American population.

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the fort gradually lost its military significance. In 1890, it was officially decommissioned, and the remaining structures were abandoned. However, the establishment of the Mohave Valley Irrigation Project in the early 20th century sparked a renewed interest in the region.

The irrigation project brought water to the arid lands surrounding Fort Mohave, facilitating the cultivation of crops and the establishment of farming communities. This development, coupled with the construction of the Davis Dam in the 1950s, which created Lake Mohave, transformed the economy and landscape of the area. The lake provided recreational opportunities, attracting tourists and supporting the growth of the local tourism industry.

The region continues to be influenced by its proximity to the Colorado River, offering a range of water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and water sports. The Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, located nearby, serves as a reminder of the area’s rich Native American heritage and provides a cultural center for the Mojave, Chemehuevi, and Navajo tribes.

Fort Mohave Trail Map


Potholes California – Colorado River Steamship Landing

Potholes California is a former gold mining camp and ghost town located in Imperial County, California. The town is located on the western side of the Colorado River near the present day Laguna Dam. The location was first mined by Spanish Miners in 1871. These early workings and miners were lost during the Yuma War, 1850 – 1853.

Potholes California

There has been some little excitement in this part of the, country, caused by the discovery of new gold fields on the Rio Colorado, some fifteen miles above Fort Yuma, on the California side. I have just returned from the diggings, and find, after a careful examination of three days, that gold exists there in paying quantities, for many miles on both sides of the river. While at the newly discovered diggings, a considerable quantity of the oro has been taken out, considering the short time- they have been worked. From the claim of Messrs. Crandell & Co., $200 per day have been dug daily for the past six days. The manner of working is the same at at Jila city, heretofore described. The earth must be carried on the back a distance of one mile, and washed in a cradle. It is said that the total amount of the gold taken from Crandell & Co ‘s claim is about $4,000. – They have now constructed a cart-road from the mine to the river, and hereafter will be able to work at better advantage. Several other claims in the vicinity are paying from $10 to $16 per day; but most of the claims — for a good manner have been located — will not pay more than $2 per day to the hand, by the present process of working. If water could be obtained and sluice* used, from $40 to $100 per day might be washed. [We had news of these diggings in oar San Diego correspondence, published this morning, and the corroborating testimony of .our Fort Yuma correspondent is of much value, as confirmatory of the reports from San Diego. — Eds. Alta.]

I think, however, that the Gila mines are much more valuable, or will yield much more gold than these new diggings on the Colorado. Th« former have the advantage of being easily supplied with water, works for that purpose being now in progress.

Daily Alta California, Volume XI, Number 42, 12 February 1859

Mining operations resumed again in 1859 with the rediscovery of gold. Placier mining operations proved successful in the 19th century. A steamship landing was established to ferry people and supplies to the location 15 miles up river from Yuma, Arizona.

The town of Potholes California was established during the building of the All American Canal and Laguna Dam.

Town Summary

NamePotholes, California
LocationImperial County, California
Latitude, Longitude32.8289329, -114.5046713
Elevation160 feet
Post Office1905 – 1909, 1920 – 1922

Potholes California Map


Colorado Steamships

From 1852 through 1909, Colorado Steamships ferried people and supplies up and down the Colorado River to mining camps and outposts. Following the discovery of gold in California, westward expansion of the United States was on the mind of most people seeking their fortune of livelihood. Wagon trains, horses and trains all brought people deep into the new county seeking their fortune. Lesser known is the role of the steamships, which brought supplies and people up the Colorado River from Baja California to the Green River in Wyoming.

View showing steamboat Cochan on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona in 1900 - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
View showing steamboat Cochan on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona in 1900 – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

In November of 1952, the steamship Uncle Sam launched steamship service on the Colorado River. The modest vessel was powered from mesquite wood to boil the water required to turn its paddle wheel located at the stern. The steamboat was capable of hauling some 40 tons of supplies up the river. Steamship service on the river proved to be a lifeline to early settlers of Arizona and California.

Mohave II at Yuma, Arizona, with Sunday school group embarked, 1876 - Unknown author - MacMullen, Jerry, Paddle-Wheel Days in California, Stanford University Press, 1944
Mohave II at Yuma, Arizona, with Sunday school group embarked, 1876 – Unknown author – MacMullen, Jerry, Paddle-Wheel Days in California, Stanford University Press, 1944

The steamers of the Colorado River range in size from just thirty five feet in length to over one hundred and forty nine feet. These purposes built ships, some of which could haul up to two hundred and thirty six tons of goods and people, could navigate the swift flowing river with just thirty inches of draft. The Colorado Steamships stern paddle wheels gained the best drive reputation for navigating with heavy flowing water of the Colorado with its ever shifting sand bars.

Colorado II in a tidal dry dock in the shipyard above Port Isabel, Sonora - MacMullen, Jerry, Paddle-Wheel Days in California, Stanford University Press, 1944
Colorado II in a tidal dry dock in the shipyard above Port Isabel, Sonora – MacMullen, Jerry, Paddle-Wheel Days in California, Stanford University Press, 1944

Steamships of the Colorado River operated six hundred miles from the gulf of Baja California up to Rioville, Nevada which is now submerged beneath Lake Mead. They ships helped open the south west and were the kings of the Colorado River Valley until competition from the local railroads took over the market. Sadly, although necessary, the damming of the Colorado River starting in 1905 locked the river up and prevents along distance travel on the Colorado River and doomed Colorado Steamships completely.

Colorado River Steamship Landings

The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.
The steamboat Mohave departing the landing in El Dorado Canyon.
Potholes, California, From 185918 mi (29 km)
La Laguna, Arizona Territory, 1860-186320 mi (32 km)
Castle Dome Landing, Arizona Territory, 1863-188435 mi (56 km)
Eureka, Arizona Territory, 1863-1870s45 mi (72 km)
Williamsport, Arizona Territory, 1863-1870s47 mi (76 km)
Picacho, California, 1862-191048 mi (77 km)
Nortons Landing, Arizona Territory, 1882-189452 mi (84 km)
Clip, Arizona Territory, 1882-188870 mi (110 km)
California Camp, California72 mi (116 km)
Camp Gaston, California, 1859-186780 mi (130 km)
Drift Desert, Arizona Territory102 mi (164 km)
Bradshaw’s Ferry, California, 1862-1884126 mi (203 km)
Mineral City, Arizona Territory, 1864-1866126 mi (203 km)
Ehrenberg, Arizona Territory, from 1866126.5 mi (203.6 km)
Olive City, Arizona Territory, 1862-1866127 mi (204 km)
La Paz, Arizona Territory, 1862-1870131 mi (211 km)
Parker’s Landing, Arizona Territory, 1864-1905
Camp Colorado, Arizona, 1864-1869
200 mi (320 km)
Parker, Arizona Territory, from 1908203 mi (327 km)
Empire Flat, Arizona Territory, 1866-1905210 mi (340 km)
Bill Williams River, Arizona220 mi (350 km)
Aubrey City, Arizona Territory, 1862-1888220 mi (350 km)
Chimehuevis Landing, California240 mi (390 km)
Liverpool Landing, Arizona Territory242 mi (389 km)
Grand Turn, Arizona/California257 mi (414 km)
The Needles, Mohave Mountains, Arizona263 mi (423 km)
Mellen, Arizona Territory 1890 – 1909267 mi (430 km)
Eastbridge, Arizona Territory 1883 – 1890279 mi (449 km)
Needles, California, from 1883282 mi (454 km)
Iretaba City, Arizona Territory, 1864298 mi (480 km)
Fort Mohave, Arizona Territory, 1859-1890
Beale’s Crossing 1858 –
300 mi (480 km)
Mohave City, Arizona Territory, 1864-1869305 mi (491 km)
Hardyville, Arizona Territory, 1864-1893
Low Water Head of Navigation 1864-1881
310 mi (500 km)
Camp Alexander, Arizona Territory, 1867312 mi (502 km)
Polhamus Landing, Arizona Territory
Low Water Head of Navigation 1881-1882
315 mi (507 km)
Pyramid Canyon, Arizona/Nevada316 mi (509 km)
Cottonwood Island, Nevada
Cottonwood Valley
339 mi (546 km)
Quartette, Nevada, 1900-1906342 mi (550 km)
Murphyville, Arizona Territory, 1891353 mi (568 km)
Eldorado Canyon, Nevada, 1857-1905
Colorado City, Nevada 1861-1905
365 mi (587 km)
Explorer’s Rock, Black Canyon of the Colorado, Mouth, Arizona/Nevada369 mi (594 km)
Roaring Rapids, Black Canyon of the Colorado, Arizona/Nevada375 mi (604 km)
Ringbolt Rapids, Black Canyon of the Colorado, Arizona/Nevada387 mi (623 km)
Fortification Rock, Nevada
High Water Head of Navigation, 1858-1866
400 mi (640 km)
Las Vegas Wash, Nevada402 mi (647 km)
Callville, Nevada, 1864-1869
High Water Head of Navigation 1866-78
408 mi (657 km)
Boulder Canyon, Mouth, Arizona/Nevada409 mi (658 km)
Stone’s Ferry, Nevada 1866-1876438 mi (705 km)
Virgin River, Nevada440 mi (710 km)
Bonelli’s Ferry, 1876-1935
Rioville, Nevada 1869-1906
High Water Head of Navigation from 1879 to 1887
440 mi (710 km
Soruce: Wikipedia

Colorado River Steamship Landings

Steamboats on the Colorado River

Gila Steamboat at the Yuma Crossing Arizona, 1873.
Gila Steamboat at the Yuma Crossing Arizona, 1873.
Black EagleScrew40 feet6 feetGreen River, Utah
June 1907
Exploded 1907
Charles H. SpencerStern92.5 feet25 feetWarm Creek, Arizona
February 1912
Spring 1912
Cliff DwellerStern70 feet20 feetHalverson’s Utah
November 1905
To Salt Lake
April 1907
CochanStern234135 feet31 feetYuma, Arizona
November 1899
Spring 1910
Cocopah IStern140 feet29 feetGridiron, Mexico
August 1859
Cocopah IIStern231147.5 feet28 feetYuma, Arizona
March 1867
Colorado IStern120 feetEstuary, Mexico
December 1855
August 1862
Colorado IIStern179145 feet29 feetYuma, Arizona
May 1862
August 1882
CometStern60 feet20 feetGreen River, Wyoming
July 1908
EsmeraldaStern93 feet13 feetRobinson’s, Mexico
December 1857
General JesupSide104 feet17 feetEstuary, Mexico
January, 1864
Engine Removed
General RosalesSternYuma, Arizona
July 1878
GilaStern236149 feet31 feetPort Isabel, Mexico
January 1873
Rebuilt as Cochan
Major PowellScrew35 feet8 feetGreen River, Utah
August 1891
Mohave IStern193135 feet28 feetEstuary, Mexico
May 1864
Mohave IIStern188149.5 feet31.5 feetPort Isabel, Mexico
February 1876
Jan 1900
Nina TildenStern12097 feet22 feetSan Francisco, California
July 1864
September 1874
RettaStern36 feet6 feetYuma, Arizona
Feburary, 1905
St. VallierStern9274 feet17 feetNeedles, California
Early 1899
March 1909
San JorgeScrew38 feet9 feetYuma, Arizona
June 1901
To Gulf
July 1901
SearchlightStern9891 feet18feetNeedles, California
December 1902
October 1916
Uncle SamSide4065 feet16 feetEstuary, Mexico
November 1852
May 1853
UndineStern60 feet10 feetGreen River, Utah
November 1901
May 1902
Steamboats on the Colorado River 1852-1916 – Appendix A


Callville Nevada – Colorado River Steamship Landing

Callville Nevada is a ghost town and Colorado River Steamboat port, which is now submerged below the waters of Lake Mead. Bishop Anson Call founded and established a colony and warehouse on the Colorado River at the direction of the Mormon Leader Brigham Young. The settlement was located about 15 miles up river from the location of the future site of Hoover Damn.

  Call's Landing or Callville looking toward the west as it appeared in 1926 - Photo courtesy of R. F. Perkins
Call’s Landing or Callville looking toward the west as it appeared in 1926 – Photo courtesy of R. F. Perkins
Bishop Anson Call, Mormon Colonizer, May 13, 1810 – August 31, 1890
Bishop Anson Call, Mormon Colonizer, May 13, 1810 – August 31, 1890

Callville was established on December 2, 1864 when Anson Call arrived on a small bluff over looking the Colorado River in the Arizona Territory. The settlement was located at the conjunction of the later named Callville wash and the Colorado River.

The founding of the settlement was the churches effort to expand trade routes and European immigration into Utah from the south. The small portgage and landing site was one of several along the Colorado including St. Thomas, Saint Joseph, Overton, West Point, Mill Point ( Simonsville ) and Rioville.

During the Civil War, the army of the United States garrisoned at the site, to protect the Colorado River Steamboats and serve as a landing point for army. In December 1865, the outpost had the honor to become the county seat for Pah-Ute County, Arizona Territory. The station was short lived and transferred to St Thomas just two years later.

In 1869, the army garrison was removed. Following the war, Congress redrew some of the state boundaries and the settlement in the Arizona Territory is moved to Nevada. From 1866 to 1878, the landing at Callville was the High Water of Navigation for steamboat traffic on the Colorado River, which is 408 miles from Fort Yuma. The town was abandoned in June 1869 when the Steamships discontinued service to the site.

Today, the town lies in under 400 feet of water. However, the water levels in Lake Mead are at an all time low, and St. Thomas is currently above water.

“Take a suitable company, locate a road to the Colorado, explore the river, find a suitable place for a warehouse, build it, and form a settlement at or near the landing.” 

Brigham Young instructing Anson Call, 1864

Town Summary

LocationLake Mead, Clark County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude36.1133128, -114.6888720
Other Common NamesCall’s Fort, Old Callville

Callville Map


Rioville Nevada – Colorado Steamship Landing

Founded in 1865, Rioville, Nevada was founded by Daniel Bonelli at the confluence of the Virgin River and the Colorado River. Bonelli was a Mormon settler who was sent to the area by Brigham Young. The town is long since drowned in the rising waters of Lake Mead.

Rioville, Nevada also known as Bonelli's Landing, circa 1900
Rioville, Nevada also known as Bonelli’s Landing, circa 1900

Originally known as Junction City, the small crossing of Stone’s ferry was purchase by Bonelli in 1870. Stone’s ferry was renamed Bonelli’s Ferry for its new owner, and the ferry crossing was moved to Junction City which was about two miles down river. In 1871, the site was abandoned by its settlers.

In 1880, a second wave of settlers arrived and the town was renamed to Rioville. The ferry was pulled over the river by a man with a rope line. It cost $10.00 to cross, which included a wagon and 2 persons with an additional charge $0.50 for each additional person. A post office was founded in 1881 and operated until 1906

The original ferry boat at Bonelli's Landing - 1890
The original ferry boat at Bonelli’s Landing – 1890

On July 8, 1879, the steamboat Gila, piloted by Captain Jack Mellon, made Rioville the uppermost landing for steamboats of the Colorado River. The arrival made the town high water head of navigation on the Colorado River and Captain Mellon finally proved that it was indeed the head of steam navigation on the Colorado River. The
Mormon population in town were “wonder-struck” to see a steamboat; one proclaimed it the “biggest thing he ever saw in water.”

Steamboats continued to traffic high up the Colorado River until 1887 when silver mining activity declined during high water months. The town was service from 1879 to 1882 the the sloop Sou’Wester during low water, carried locally mined salt to process silver ore in El Dorado Canyon. From 1869 to 1887, the landing at Rioville was the High Water of Navigation for steamboat traffic on the Colorado River, which was 440 miles from Fort Yuma.

The town was abandoned in the 1890s but the post office lingered to 1906 and the ferry until 1934. The rising waters of Lake Mead, caused by the construction of Hoover Damn drowned the location in water.

Town Summary

NameRioville, Nevada
LocationUnderwater Lake Mead, Clark County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude36.1502603, -114.3994176
Post Office 1881-1906
StatusVery Wet
Also known asJunction City, Junctionville

Town Map