After leaving the Yosemite area we headed towards Boron, California. Boron represents the past and the future, nestled between the historical borax mine to the north and a mountain ridge used for test firing rockets to the south. Our goal was to learn about borax!
Borax has been called the ‘white gold’ for it’s many uses and for the money it brings to its finders and mines.
Borax has a multitude of uses in our everyday life, from household cleaning & deodorizing, to laundry detergent and cosmetics, to glass making, fire retardant, fiberglass, to name but a few!!
Most of us will remember the familiar box of the ’12 mule team’ borax!
Source, Desert USA, Boron California:
In the late 1800s, sodium borate ore (borax) from Death Valley was hauled by 20-mule teams across the desert to Mojave for shipment. In 1925 a rich borax deposit was discovered practically under the same wagon trails but much closer to the rail head. Twenty-mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons, according to Wikipedia.com.
Shortly after the borax discovery, Pacific Coast Borax moved its mining operations from Death Valley to the current location of the Rio Tinto Borax mine, three miles north of Boron. The mine has a large visitor center with views overlooking the large open pit mine.
From Boron we moved on down highway 58 to just east of Barstow, to Calico Ghost Town. This old western mining town has been around since 1881, during the largest silver strike in California. Calico produced over 20 million dollars in silver ore over a 12 year span. When silver lost its value in the mid 1890’s Calico lost it’s population and became a ghost town.
Walter Knott (of Knotts Berry Farm) purchased Calico in the 1950’s and restored all but 5 of the original buildings to their original look in the 1880’s. In 2005 Calico was proclaimed California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town.
They even had the streets decorated for Christmas!
There are some magnificent sunsets in that little area of the state!
The next day we took a trip into Barstow to see the historical Harvey House!
Harvey houses are legendary in the history of western rail travel. Operated by Fred Harvey in conjunction with the Santa Fe railway. They were a network of hotel/restaurants providing quality meals and lodging. I would assume they are similar to our CP rail hotels in Canada.
The Casa Del Desiert was opened in 1911 and closed in 1971. It is registered as one of the last remaining examples of the West’s Harvey Houses.
We enjoyed our brief time in that area of California, but it was time to move on down the road!!
Until next time……