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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Furnace Creek in Inyo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Old Harmony Borax Works

 
 
Old Harmony Borax Works Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2010
1. Old Harmony Borax Works Marker
Inscription. On the marsh near this point borax was discovered in 1881 by Aaron Winters who later sold his holdings to W. T. Coleman of San Francisco. In 1882 Coleman built the Harmony Borax Works and commissioned his superintendent J. W. S. Perry, to design wagons and locate a suitable route to Mojave. The work of gathering the ore (called cottonball) was done by Chinese workmen. From this point processed borax was transported 165 miles by twenty mule team to the railroad until 1889.
 
Erected 1962 by California State Park Commission, Death Valley 49ers Inc ., National Park Service. (Marker Number 773.)
 
Location. 36° 28.797′ N, 116° 52.184′ W. Marker is in Furnace Creek, California, in Inyo County. Marker is on California Route 190 near Borax Mill Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in Death Valley National Monument. Marker is in this post office area: Death Valley CA 92328, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. White Gold (approx. 0.3 miles away); Borax (approx. 0.3 miles away); Stephen Tyng Mather (approx. mile away); 20 Mule Team Wagon Train
Old Harmony Borax Works Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
2. Old Harmony Borax Works Marker
(approx. 1.7 miles away); Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley (approx. 1.7 miles away); Old Dinah (approx. 1.7 miles away); Death Valley 49ers Gateway (approx. 2.4 miles away); Devils Golf Course (approx. 10 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Furnace Creek.
 
Regarding Old Harmony Borax Works. This site was designated as California Registered Historical Landmark No.773 on August 16, 1962.
 
Also see . . .  Death Valley History -. Harmony Borax Works (Submitted on June 15, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Borax,
also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. It is usually a white powder consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.

Borax has a wide variety of uses. It is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is also used to make buffer solutions in biochemistry, as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound for
Old Harmony Borax Works Marker seen along State Road 190 and Borax Mill Road image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
3. Old Harmony Borax Works Marker seen along State Road 190 and Borax Mill Road
fiberglass, as an insecticide, as a flux in metallurgy, a texturing agent in cooking, and as a precursor for other boron compounds.
    — Submitted June 16, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNatural ResourcesNotable Places
 
Old Harmony Borax Works as seen today image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
4. Old Harmony Borax Works as seen today
National Park Service display
Old Harmony Borax Works image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
5. Old Harmony Borax Works
Old Harmony Borax Works " White Gold " image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
6. Old Harmony Borax Works " White Gold "
Though steeped in legend, the frenzied search for gold and other materials in Death Valley produced few fortunes. Borax, the "White Gold of the Desert," ranks as the valley's most profitable mineral.
Harmony Borax works, in front of you, was one of Death Valley's first borax operations. It operated from 1883-1888. The 3/8-mile interpretive trail takes you through Harmony borax works. Picture: A 20 mule team at the Harmony Borax works about 1885. Some "20 mule" teams, like this one, had varying numbers of animals.
Typical 20 mule team wagon arrangement image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
7. Typical 20 mule team wagon arrangement
Twenty Mule Team Wagon image. Click for full size.
By Nat. Park Service
8. Twenty Mule Team Wagon
hauled borax out of Death Valley for only 6 years in the 1800s, yet are an enduring symbol of both borax and Death Valley.
Twenty Mule Teams image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
9. Twenty Mule Teams
For more than a century, the 20 Mule Team has been a symbol of the borax industry --- on product labels, in history books, and on television. The status is well- earned; mule teams helped solve the most diffiult task that faced Death Valley borax operators --- getting the product to market.
The mule teams pulled loads weighing up to 36 tons (33,113 kg), including 1,200 gallons (4,545 l) of drinking water. The rear wagon wheels were 7 feet (2.1m) high, and the entire unit with mules was more than 100 feet (30.5m) long. (Death Valley National Park)
Old Harmony Borax Works image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 12, 2010
10. Old Harmony Borax Works
Vintage Postcard - Typical Twenty Mule Team Outfit image. Click for full size.
Death Valley Natural History Assoc-Decker Press, Inc. Photo by Warren Hill
11. Vintage Postcard - Typical Twenty Mule Team Outfit
During the 1880's, the twenty mule teams hauled borax from the refinery at Harmony Borax Works to the railroad at Mohave, California, 165 miles away. The twenty mule teams hauled loads of 36 1/2 tons and made the trip to Mojave in 10 days, maintaining almost timetable precision. The triumph of the twenty mule teams over the harsh desert was tremendous, but brief. In 1888 the great wagons and the twenty mule teams made their last trip out of Death Valley.
Vintage Postcard - Old Harmony Borax Mill-Death Valley, California image. Click for full size.
12. Vintage Postcard - Old Harmony Borax Mill-Death Valley, California
The ruins of the old mill, a few miles north of the Furnace Creek Ranch, which was in operation from 1883 to 1987. A 20 mult-team could haul 46,000 pounds of borax and its own water and hay on the arduous ten day, 165 mile trip to Mojave via Wingate Pass. Truly one of the great legends of the West
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 15, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,103 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 15, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   6. submitted on July 5, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   7. submitted on June 15, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   8, 9. submitted on June 16, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   10. submitted on June 15, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   11, 12. submitted on September 29, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.
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