Monday, April 15, 2013

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Death Valley, Old Harmony Borax Works

Copyright 2013, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

March 13, 2013

You may remember I told you about the rain in Death Valley several days before our arrival and how a number of the roads were closed due to flooding and debris in the road.  We saw the cleanup underway on our way into the park and decided to do Scotty's Castle the first full day in the park and hope that by the second day, the roads would be open.  Sounded like a good plan to us, and we are happy to report that it worked out just perfectly.  March 13th was the second full day, we left camp at Stovepipe Wells and drove toward Furnace Creek, where the main visitors center is, to ask about the roads.

Here are a couple of shots I took between Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Flat, and more flat.  Almost mesmerizing, mirage like.  Elevation somewhere around 175 below sea level.

And behind all that flat, snow covered mountain tops!  I believe it is this mountain top that has an elevation somewhere near 10,000 to 11,000 feet, give a few feet!

Not far from the visitors center is the Old Harmony Borax Works:

Some of us will remember 20 Mule Team Borax.  There is a great photo of the product on a Wikipedia page, but, I do not feel comfy including it here on Reflections, so, go here and have a lookie see, I'll wait - -

The Harmony borax site operated for about 5 years, the laborers were primarily Chinese, who earned $1.30 a day, less their lodging and any food purchased from the company store.  (Data from signage at the site.)

The borax was refined at the site because of the high cost of transportation, it was 165 miles to the railroad.  By the way, borax was ranked high in profitability, even over gold.  Mule teams pulled loads that could weigh up to 36 tons, the loads included up to 1,200 gallons of drinking water.  The rear wagon was 7 feet tall and the entire "train", including mules, was more than 100 feet long.  (Data from signage at the site.)

The site is built on a hill, looking up to remnants of a building and some of the equipment used in the processing:

A nice close look at the wagons, yes, they were VERY tall!

Looking down from the hill, off in the distance, building remains and beautiful Death Valley, and white borax in the foreground (nope, NOT snow, borax).

Climbing the hill more and a little less Sony Too zoom :

It only took a few minutes and a bit of exercise to see and learn about the Harmony Borax site.

And, now, Man and I have experienced the 20 mule train!


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