POD 30 Section Two Cover
Section Two Cover – Joseph P. Widney

Another easy (to me, anyway – but I'm into this stuff) to figure out POD here. Joseph P. Widney actually is somewhat famous – U.S.C. Dean, historian, and doctor.

In 1873, he did propose to Congress "to turn the Colorado River deliberately into the Salton Basin and re-create Lake Cahuilla" in order to vastly increase rainfall in the area, provide irrigation for farmland, and generally make the desert there a nicer place to live. He also noted that this would be relatively easy to do and "that the river was, without help from man, approaching a condition where it might soon turn itself back into the basin" – a pretty good guess, as this is what would happen in 1905 (at which point major buckage was spent to turn the river away and back to the Gulf – as the rising waters were going to inundate the railroad lines through the basin!).

On OTL, Congress failed to pass the bill – mostly because the civil engineer they hired to evaluate it got it wrong and thought Widney was proposing to let seawater into the basin. So a very minor POD (that engineer actually understands the proposal) and in 1874, Congress appropriates a few tens of thousands of dollars to divert the Colorado.

The lake fills, the climate is made better – and farming gets a twenty-year head-start in the basin. In 1925 a joint U.S./Mexican projects builds a further diversion canal (the postcard for the "Widney Canal" in the lower right of the cover) to fill "Lake Widney," on the Baja side of the border (though Lake Cahuilla already crosses the border – and won't that be a bitch for the current-day Border Patrol trying to stop illegals...).

This is another POD ripe with butterflies. To name a few:
I bet that it'd be a lot harder sell to build Boulder/Hoover Dam. It was built more for flood control/irrigation then power production and on this ATL flood control's pretty much a non-issue (just don't build too close to the lakeshore!) and irrigation – at least as far as the Imperial Valley goes (which is the only real customer in the 20's/30's) is already pretty much locked up. So, no Hoover Dam. No massive power generation for California, Arizona and (perhaps most importantly) Nevada – Las Vegas isn't going to be all that well lit!

No Hoover Dam, maybe no other big dams on the Colorado (and elsewhere? Widney's shown it's possible to do flood control/irrigation on the "cheap" which would make them a much harder sell in Congress). No big aqueduct to Southern California – at least not as easily or as cheaply. In fact, water movement throughout the whole Southwest is changed – and the history of the Southwest is pretty much one of water.

If SoCal doesn't get the Colorado aqueduct – and Hoover Dam power – what happens to the postwar boom? Does it fizzle, or does SoCal get what it needs from other places? Mono Lake actually does get sucked dry a couple of decades before the "Save Mono Lake" movement happens? The big aqueduct down the Central Valley gets build ahead of schedule – and with a lot less regards to what get's sucked dry along the way? California goes more heavily nuclear to balance the lack of hydropower?

On OTL, the Salton Sea is a pretty big tourist draw. On this ATL, "Lake Cahuilla" is an even bigger one (the postcard in the upper left of the cover actually is a picture of the Salton Sea. Given how much of the rest of the "watering holes" along the way have been drained, it's now a major stop on the Pacific flyway). The flow of tourist dollars in California is real important and this would change the directions of that flow for more than a century. Maybe even change the flow of where people settle – does the Imperial Valley become suburbs after WWII?

And speaking of tourist dollars, we left Las Vegas unwatered and without electricity a couple of paragraphs above. How does no Las Vegas, Gambling Capital of the World affect things? Less chances of other cities going for your random-chance dollar (no Atlantic City casinos without Vegas examples), maybe less chance of lottery-powered finance schemes for state governments too. And where does all that money that doesn't get spend at the Tropicana (amongst others) end up getting spent?