One motion picture that my father talked about was called “The Winning of Barbara Worth.” It was originally a novel, by Harold Bell Wright. He lived in the Imperial Valley and wrote this story about the valley’s origins.
The novel became very popular in the early 1900s and was turned into a silent movie. We had a copy of the book in our house, as I grew older I eventually got around to reading it. I still have that copy.
It told the story of how the Imperial Valley farmlands were developed by the construction of the canals that came from the Colorado River.
The special effects of the movie were primitive and yet are still quite effective. In the story and in real life, the dams and water gates that were built to hold back and control the water were not well built and the water from the Colorado eventually broke through and flooded the lower portions of the Imperial Valley. The flooded area is now known as the Salton Sea.
The movie is available as a DVD. I recommend you look for it. It features Gary Cooper in his first starring role, Ronald Coleman also starred.
For many years there was a world-class hotel in downtown El Centro, where I was born. It was called the Barbara Worth Hotel. Harold Bell Wright often participated in the social events that occurred there. It managed to survive until 1962 when it burned down.
I remember the building when I was very young. I suppose we weren’t world class people. My family never took us inside it.