We arrived at the Hidden Cove RV Park in Yuma on Christmas Eve. Like a lot of RV parks in Arizona, Hidden Cove has a mix of permanent residents in what they call “park models”, basically, manufactured homes permanently attached, seasonal residents and daily or weekly visitors. The people here were among the friendliest and most welcoming group we have encountered so far. They had a Christmas dinner that was mostly pot luck with the park providing turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and ham. It was a nice meal with lots of terrific dishes contributed.
One of the primary visitor attractions in Yuma is the Yuma Territorial Prison. It began operation in 1876 in order to provide a secure facility for prisoners from the surrounding area. The local jails were just not adequate. It was viewed by the residents of Yuma as a “country club” since it had running water and electricity (which the town did not have), a library and the prisoners were allowed to have musical instruments and form a prison band. However, the snakes, scorpions and summer temperatures which could soar above 120 degrees would cause the inmates to disagree with this assessment.
During its 33 years of operation 3,069 prisoners called this home, including 29 women. One hundred eleven prisoners died while serving their sentences here but no executions took place at the prison. This was handled by county governments. The crimes committed by the prisoners ranged from murder to polygamy, grand larceny and robbery. By 1907 the prison was severely overcrowded with no more room for expansion. A new facility was constructed in Florence, AZ, with the last prisoner leaving Yuma in 1909.
Next stop: Eloy, AZ