Sackett's Wells, California

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Sackett's Wells is a former settlement in Imperial County, California.[1] It was located 3 miles (4.8 km) west northwest of Plaster City,[1] in or near Coyote Wash.


Probably used as a watering place by local Native Americans and later by Spanish and later Mexican travelers from Sonora. It was certainly used from the time of the Mexican American War when it was a watering place for the expeditions of Kearny and Cooke, and other travelers crossing the Colorado Desert from the Colorado River. When the Southern Immigrant Trail was established from the Yuma Crossing to Los Angeles, it was one of the watering places used.

John Russell Bartlett, described Sackett's Wells in his 1854 book A Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua:

"June 5th. Reached the water-holes called Sackett's Wells, twenty-four miles from Carrizo, at 3 o'clock this morning. Before leaving camp last night, I sent four men with spades in advance, in order that they might sink some holes, and have a small supply of water for us on our arrival; but as they were ignorant of the place and were unfamiliar with the best indications of water, they had accomplished little. Some more experienced hands now set themselves busily at work in an arroyo, or place where there was a slight depression in the desert, marked by some mezquit bushes, whose freshness showed that water sometimes reached their roots. After digging about six feet, the water began slowly to enter ; and by dipping it up with a basin, we managed to supply our animals."
"The desert where we were now encamped, is an open and remarkably level plain, with scarcely an undulation. On the south-west, twenty miles distant, is a range of lofty mountains, which forms its limit in that direction. On the north and east, it is bounded by the horizon, no mountains or hills being visible. The soil is either a fine gravel, or loose sand. The vegetation is exceedingly sparse, consisting chiefly of stunted mezquit and the larrea Mexicana. Near the arroyo, where water sometimes finds its way, a few mezquit bushes have attained the height of ten feet, whose brilliant hue is most agreeable to the eye, amid so much barrenness. A little grass was found in clumps about a mile from our camp in an arroyo, whither our animals were sent. This, with the young shoots of the mezquit, was all they had. At sunrise this morning, the mercury stood at 92°, and at noon 108° in the shade. Distance from Carrizo Creek, twenty-five miles."[2]

In 1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail established a stage station there at the well, located 1712 miles east southeast of Carrizo Creek Station and 15 miles west northwest of Indian Wells Station.[3]

At the beginning of the American Civil War the mail stations were abandoned but the wells continued to be used by the Union Army and other travelers.[4] After the war Sackett's Wells was again used for a station and watering place for other stage companies on the route between California and Arizona Territory, until the route fell into disuse in the late 1870s with the arrival of the railroad in Yuma, Arizona. The site now is now obscured by the effects of 135 years of time, decay and erosion in the desert.


Coordinates: 32°48′13″N 115°53′39″W / 32.80361°N 115.89417°W / 32.80361; -115.89417