In the fall of 1882, Thomas Blythe was present for the final blasting of a cut in a point jutting into the Colorado River. The river back then was 5 miles wide during the spring floods. The cut was the new diversion intake for his proposed land development and colonization plan. With him was 28-year-old Englishman George Irish, who had been appointed by Blythe to be manager of the project.

Blythe, in his 60th year already had spent $82,000 on an undertaking to clear and irrigate a wilderness of 40,000 acres, including a 40-acre experimental farm. The development scheme, on the west banks of the Colorado less than 90 miles north of Fort Yuma, was Blythe’s dream of an “Empire on the Colorado”.