California (source: Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition)
The Mohave desert—embracing Kern, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, as also a large part of San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties—belong to the " Great. Basin," while a narrow strip along the Colorado river' is in the " Open Basin Region." They have no drainage to the sea, save fitfully for slight areas through the Colorado river. The • Mohave desert is about 2000 ft. above the sea in general altitude. The southern part of the Great Basin region is vaguely designated the Colorado desert. In San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties a number of creeks or so-called rivers, with beds that are normally dry, flow centrally toward the desert of Salton Sink or " Sea ' ; this is the lowest part of a large area that is depressed belowthe level of the sea, at Salton 263 ft., and 287 ft. at the lowest point.; In r900 the Colorado river (q.v.) was tapped south of the Mexican boundary for water wherewith to irrigate land in the Imperial Valley along the Southern Pacific railway, adjoining Salton Sea. The river enlarged the canal, and finding a steeper gradient than' that to its mouth, was-diverted into the Colorado desert, flooding' Salton Sea;' and when the break in this river was closed for the second time in February 1907, though much of its water still escaped through minor channels and by seepage, a lake more than 400 sq. m. in area was left. ' A permanent 6o ft. masonry dam was completed in July 1907. The region to the east of the Sierra, likewise in the Great Basin province, between" the crest of that range and the Nevada boundary, is very mountainous. 'Owen's river runs through it from north to south' for some 18o m. Near Owen's lake the scenery is extremely grand. The valley here is very narrow, and on either side the mountains rise from 7000 to 1o,000 ft. above the lake and river. The Inyo range, on the east, is quite bare of timber; and its summits are only occasionally whitened with snow for a few days during the winter, as almost all precipitation is cut off by the higher ranges to the westward. Still further to the east some 40 M. from the lake is Death Valley (including Lost or Mesquite Valley)—the name a reminder of the fate of a party of " forty-niners " who perished here, by thirst or by starvation and exposure. Death Valley, some 50 M. long and on an average 20-25 M. broad from. the crests of the inclosing mountain ranges (or 5-•rd m` at their base), constitutes an independent drainage basin. It is 'below' sea level (about 276 f t. according to recent surveys), and altogether is one of the most remarkable physical features of California. The mountains about it are high and bare and brilliant with varied colours. The Amargosa river, entering the valley from Nevada, disappears in the salty. basin. Enormous quantities of borax, already exploited, and of nitrate of soda, are known to be present in the surrounding country, the former as almost pure borate of lime in Tertiary lake sediments. The physiography of the state is the evident determinant of its climate, fauna and flora. California has the highest' land and the lowest land of the United States, the greatest variety of temperature and rainfall, and of products of the soil. Climate.—The climate is very different from that of the Atlantic coast; and indeed very different from thatof any part of the country save that bordering California Amid great variations of local weather there are some peculiar features that obtain all over the state. In the first place, the climate of the entire Pacific Coast is milder and more uniform in temperature than that of the states in corresponding latitude east of the, mountains. Thus we have to go north as far as Sitka in 57° N. lat. to find the same mean yearly temperature as that of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in latitude 440 39'. And going south along the' coast, we find the mean temperature of San Diego 6° or 7° less than that of Vicksburg, Miss., or Charleston, S.C. The quantity of total annual heat supply It Puget Sound exceeds that at Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Cleveland or Omaha, all more than ' In December 1904 Salton Sea was dry; in February x906 it' was occupied by a lake 6o m. long. Soo m. farther south; Cape Flattery, exposed the year round to cold ocean fogs, receives more heat than Eastport, Maine, which is 3° farther south and has a warmer summer. In the second place, the means of winter and summer are much nearer the mean of the year in California than in the east.