The lessons learned in the 1930’s in America’s Dust Bowl came to Waddell in 1946. One of the United States Soil Conservation Service’s most effective techniques was to plant trees as windbreaks. Single or double rows of trees, properly planted, would reduce the wind speeds by half and protect the soil and the crops. But it was in 1946 that the US Soil Conservation District began distributing eucalyptus trees to local farmers in Arizona for windbreaks on private land. (Local farmers had been using many soil conservation techniques appropriate for the area for years.) Eucalyptus trees were used because they were fast growing, tall and had heavy growth close to the ground.
Donald Waddell took advantage of a Soil Conservation Service program to plant trees on his ranch. The saplings were about 8 foot tall when they arrived from California. A young lady, Velma Holland, was put in charge of a crew to plant the thousands of trees. The trees were planted on section lines from McDowell Road to Indian School Road along Cotton Lane and Citrus Road. Many of the trees still line the roads and are now over 65 years old.
I remember driving home from Phoenix and exiting on the old Cotton Lane (before the 303 was extended). You really felt you had left the city behind when you saw that long line of trees from the distance. Turning north onto Cotton Lane and entering the intense shade of those old trees was like a gift after a long hot day in town. The trees stood like a gateway to the rural life of Waddell. During summer storms everyone kept their speed down to dodge branches that would have fallen into the roadway. The road was usually cleared of debris the next day.
I don’t get to drive in their shade these days as Cotton Lane is closed to traffic for Loop 303 construction. The road work required the removal of a large section of the trees on the south end of Cotton Lane and many of the trees along Citrus Road are dying off from age and lack of water. But those trees that still thrive continue to do their job of providing a break from the sun, the wind and the heat.