El Centro Field Office

Cultural Resources

Historic Sites:

Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Route

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
The 1,200 mile route is administered by the U.S. National Park Service and retraces the journey of the first group of Spanish settlers to make an overland expedition to California from Mexico.

Mormon Battalion Trail
The Mormon Battalion, the only religious unit in the American military, was active in 1846-1847, serving in the Mexican-American War. Their long march from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California, was instrumental in securing a route through the western territories being fought over, including into the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. The battalion marched west along the Santa Fe Trail, and in New Mexico they were guided by Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition. The battalion chased Mexican soldiers out of Tucson, Arizona, and crossed Imperial County, and finally passed through Temecula, California, ending their march in San Diego in 1847.

Plank Road 
Have you ever come across pieces of weathered and twisted wood, perhaps with rusted metal spikes sticking out of it, in the sand dunes? Chances are that you saw a small part of the historic Plank Road. The Plank Road is a small remnant of the unique “floating” wooden road that ran along the southern end of the Imperial Sand Dunes. The “old plank road” as it has been called was constructed in 1915, in an effort to create a more direct route from Yuma, AZ to San Diego, CA. It was in use until 1926, when the California Highway Commission constructed a paved road (Hwy 80) as a permanent solution to maintenance and traffic problems the Plank Road posed.

If you do come across parts of the road while in the dunes, don’t pick them up, but please let the BLM know where you found a piece of this historic treasure!

Tumco Historic Townsite
Originally called Hedges, this town was renamed Tumco in 1910 for the Trumble United Mines Company. With a peak population of over 3,000, it boasted the largest stamp mill in the country with 100 stamps, capable of crushing 167 tons of ore per day. When the richest ore deposits were depleted in 1914, the mines closed. Little remains of this once bustling community, except for crumbling foundations, a reservoir, and a cemetery.

Yuha Desert   (audio tour)
The Yuha Desert is rich in both human and natural history. The area contains several unique cultural attractions such as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and monument, the Yuha Geoglyph and the Yuha Well. The Yuha Desert is an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Please observe all posted signs and stay on existing routes of travel. Cross-country travel is not permitted.  Please click on the link for a Yuha Desert cultural history audio tour.

The Bureau of Land Management in California conducts studies and protects thousands of sites; coordinates with 108 tribes in California, representing 628,000 Native American Indians.

The first plank road across the Imperial Sand Dunes circa 1915.

Wooden sign posted at the Yuha Well site. The bottom portion of the sign has been damaged by vandals.  The sign read "Yuha Well (Santa Rosa de Las Lajas) Used by the Kamias Indians who showed it to Anza'a scouts on March 8, 1774. The second Anza Expedition passed here on December 11, 1775.  Later an important water source on the trail from Yuma to San Diego.

Bureau of Land Management
El Centro Field Office
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro CA 92243
Phone: (760) 337-4400
Fax: (760) 337-4490
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
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