Laguna Dam is the first of the dams built across the Colorado River. It is located upstream about 85 air miles north of the mouth of the river and 13 miles northeast of Yuma, Arizona, roughly 5 miles downstream from Imperial Dam. The two photos above, looking basically due south, show the sluice gate portion of the dam built directly across the Colorado River on the California side. It is located on the northwest end of the diversion dam along Imperial Dam Road. The pictures below show the small dam at the southeast end of the diversion dam on the Arizona side along Laguna Dam Road.
Stretching between the two from one end to the other is a 4780 foot long concrete spillway. The spillway is clearly visible in the aerial view found in the fifth of the photos below, the spillway, starting on the California side, running diagonally from approximately the center of the photo to the lower right corner. The mid section of the spillway is picked up in the sixth photo with the southeast terminal of the spillway shown ending on the Arizona side in the seventh photo.
When visiting the dam it is not easy to get from the California side of the river to the Arizona side or vice versa, that is why most photo segments show either one dam or the other. If you don't know how it used to work it is sometimes hard to tie together. As for "how it used to work," the whole of the Laguna Diversion Dam is and has been virtually unused and unusable for a long time having been made redundant with the construction and final completion of the Imperial Dam. The non-use is the why of the rusted lift-gates and weed choked canals. The swastika bridge is located on the Arizona side not much more than a stones throw upstream along one of those canals northeast of the small dam. By clicking the "(see)" link at the end of this paragraph a Google aerial view comes up showing the swastika bridge located just at end of the words Mittry Lake. The Google map image clearly depicts the southeast end of the long concrete spillway terminating just to the left as it reaches the swastika bridge, as well as the canal and the beginning of the canal that leads to the small dam.(see)
THE SPILLWAY AS SEEN FROM CALIFORNIA. SWASTIKA BRIDGE AT FAR END IN ARIZONA
(for larger size click image then click again)
THE 4780 FOOT CONCRETE SPILLWAY STRETCHING BETWEEN CALIFORNIA TO ARIZONA
(for more on the diversion dam please click image)
In 1936 a Gene Autry movie titled Red River Valley was released. Briefly the storyline revolves around water rights in the old west, more specifically a place called Red River Valley. A banker and his henchmen, in order to gain any profits for themselves and control the region, are sabotaging efforts by local citizens and ranchers to secure water rights. After five men overseeing the completion of the irrigation system were murdered Gene Autry is hired to prevent any more killings, further damage or possible sabotage, and ensure the completion of the dam.
The irrigation system and dam used in the film is actually the Laguna Dam along the Lower Colorado River. Below is a link that will take you to an archived video of he film, albeit renamed Man of the Frontier, given it for a later release. The movie has a number of really good scenes of the dam and what it looked like when it was fully functional, especially at the very beginning. Remember, the film was made and released in 1936, not many years after the major upstream dams were built and about 20 years after Laguna dam was put into operation.
(click either image for movie)
RED RIVER VALLEY
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM
THE COLORADO RIVER: WAS IT NAVIGABLE?
EARLY COLORADO RIVER STEAMBOAT LANDINGS
FROM THE DELTA TO THE VIRGIN RIVER
THE NAZI PLOT TO BLOW UP HOOVER DAM
VIKINGS OF THE DESERT SOUTHWEST
THE JAPANESE SECRET WAR
FATE OF THE U-133
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.