Saturday, April 2, 2011

Photo of the Day: 20 Mule Team Borax


20 Mule Team Borax, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Back in the day, one of the most successful commercial enterprises in what is now Death Valley National Park was the Harmony Borax Works, which harvested borax deposits off the valley floor for about eight years starting in 1881. At the height of its success, the company paid Chinese laborers about a dollar a day to gather the raw mineral, which was then recrystalized into its pure form. Massive wagons, pulled by teams of twenty mules, hauled the product out to market. Unfortunately for their business, the summer temperatures in Death Valley were too hot for the recrystalization process, and the business eventually went bust. Today all that remains are some crumbling buildings and a few sun-bleached, sand-blasted remnants of the old wagons.

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