History of Cactus Orphanage



   Back in the early part of the 20th century, a blacksmith from Philadelphia, gave up his business and moved west. He ended up out in the middle of the western Arizona desert, and turned to prospecting in order to survive. This old coot earned the handle; Sand Pan Dan and most people just called him, Sand Pan, because sand was all that usually ended up in his gold pan. After several years of barely getting by, Sand Pan left the Dome Rock Mountains north of Yuma and settled in a little town about 19 miles east of the Colorado River which flows down to Yuma, Arizona.


 The little town, which would have been better described as a “bump in the road”, where Sand Pan landed, was originally a U. S. Army fort and was built to protect settlers from marauding Apache Indians in the 19th century. Fort Tyson was built in 1856 and became a stagecoach station on the Butter Field route between Prescott, Arizona and Riverside, California. By the time Sand Pan got there, the small town of Quartzsite had grown up around the old fort, which was originally known as Tyson Wells.      


  Sand Pan met a girl, who worked at the Oasis Hotel, and they settle on a small piece of land a couple miles out of town. Sand Pan’s girl had a desert green thumb and their property was soon covered with many different species of cacti. In order to make a little extra money Sand Pan was known, in his later years, to hang out around the Quartzite Yacht Club and sell cactus cuttings from their ranch to travelers that wandered into town.


 Sand Pan had been living alone again for almost 10 years, when he followed his beloved Bessy back to their Creator. He had been working the Quartzsite Rock and Gem Show, selling cacti for several years when he passed on, and in those days was known as Sand Pan the Cactus Man. After his death Sand Pan’s best friend, German George, cared for the cactus for several years. George watered them and the cactus grew. 

   Then a guy called Jim Bob, shortly after he retired, discovered the property in disarray; German George had passed on about a year earlier, and the cacti were in despite need of attention. There were hundreds of potted cactus plants, in pots of all sizes, and Jim Bob decided something needed to be done. The Cactus Orphanage was born.