• 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”.

    Edwin F. Williams probably played a bigger part in the development of this wilderness than any other man. Williams arrived to find a jungle, and lived to see Blythe a modern, progressive city and the Palo Verde valley, more than 100,000 acres of well maintained farmland producing crops and livestock valued at over $100,000,000 a year.

    The die was cast and a hardy group of determined pioneers made the right decisions that have led to this self-sufficient, proud community; all created in just over a century. Blythe was incorporated on July 21, 1916.

Present Day

  • Blythe is an agricultural community with tourism as a major factor in its economy. Located on the California - Arizona border, right on the Colorado River, Blythe has a population of approximately 22,000 within the city limits, with a large trade area in the valley of about 37,000. During the winter months, with the influx of “winter visitors”, the trade area more than triples. Blythe plays an important part in the Quartzsite shows, which take place in January and February with its 1100 motel rooms usually filled to capacity. The area around Quartzsite grows from a summer population of 2,600 to over 250,000 during the winter months.

    The elevation of Blythe is 265 feet above sea level. The Palo Verde valley is surrounded by mountain ranges on a6ll sides ranging up to nearly 2,000 feet to the north. They are called The Big Maria’s to the north; The McCoy’s to the West; The Palo Verde & Chocolate Mountains to the south; and the Saw Tooth Mountains to the east. Unlike other parts of Southern California, Blythe is one of the most seismically stable cities in the Western states. There has not been an earthquake centered here in over 500,000 years. The area does have some thermal activity. When the water system for the prisons were drilled, heated water of 108 degrees was hit, which required cooling before use.


Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce
207 E. Hobsonway, Blythe, CA 92225