White Gold

A Death Valley icon. The 20 mule team borax wagons of the Harmony Borax Works. Each wagon empty weighs 7,800 pounds. A mule team pulled a load of 10 tons.

The tank held water. A 20 mule team was actually 18 mules. Two of the twenty animals were large horses, the “wheelers,” the ones closest to wagon wheels. This position required more strength and start up power. Horses handled the jarring wagon tongue better. And one horse carried a rider. However the remainder were mules which were “smarter” and sturdier in Death Valley heat. They made a trek of 165 miles, about 10 days, to a railroad depot.

The larger borax wagon wheels stand seven feet tall.

Only ruins remain of Harmony Borax works. The site went idle in 1888.

On December 31, 1974, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nowadays, Borax, the “White Gold” comes from Boron, California, under domain of U.S. Borax. The product to this day serves many household uses.

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.

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