Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12/10 Borax Works & Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Today's expedition was a drive to the Stovepipe Wells, which is basically a hotel and a gas station northwest of Furnace Creek where I am staying.  On the way, I pulled into the Borax mine area.

This is one of the original 20-mule-team wagons.  Except one of the signs say they were actually pulled by 18 mules and two horses.  The horses were so that the drivers had some transportation if they needed it in a breakdown.  Also, the tanker at the end carried 1,200 gallons of water so the animals and people had something to drink on the way.

Check out the brake on this wheel!  It looked like it had been wrapped in rags.

The interpretive signs said that they hired Chinese workers to scoop the borax ore up from the surface of the salt flats and take it to this contraption where it was purified.  The processed ore took up less space in the wagons so it was worth it to process it on the site than to make more trips hauling it out. 

This looks like a boiler of some sort.  Not sure where they got the water.

This is one of two remaining dwellings where the miners and mule team drivers lived.

A few miles farther down the road is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Most of Death Valley is really covered either by gravel or by very rough salt pans.  Sand dunes exist, but are not throughout the valley.  I walked out a few hundred feet, but could have walked a lot farther if I had wanted to.

The weather is warming up just a bit.  Last night's low was 24, but it got up to 60 today.  For the last several days, I have mostly been wearing jeans and sweatshirts, and even a jacket outside.  Today, I was able to wear just shorts and a sweatshirt.  Nice!!

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