Mule team wheels

Harmony Borax Works, Death Valley

The Harmony Borax Works is located in Death Valley at Furnace Creek Springs, then called Greenland. It is now located within Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, California. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harmony Borax Works
Harmony Borax Works

After discovery of Borax deposits here by Aaron and Rosie Winters in 1881, business associates William Tell Coleman and Francis Marion Smith subsequently obtained claims to these deposits, opening the way for “large-scale” borax mining in Death Valley. The Harmony operation became famous through the use, from 1883 to 1889, of large Twenty-mule teams and double wagons which hauled borax the long overland route to the closest railroad in Mojave, California.

Harmony Borax Works
Harmony Borax Works

The borax was processed locally to avoid having to drag the borax and waste to the distribution centre.

Harmony Borax Works
Harmony Borax Works

Twenty-mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that ferried borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. They traveled from mines across the Mojave Desert to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles (275 km) away in Mojave, California. The routes were from Furnace Creek, California, to Mojave, California, and from the mines at Old Borate to Mojave.

Mule team wheels
Mule team wheels

The twenty-mule-team wagons were designed to carry 10 short tons (9 metric tons) of borax ore at a time. The rear wheels measured seven feet (2.1 m) high, with tires made of one-inch-thick (25 mm) iron. The wagon beds measured 16 feet long and were 6 feet deep (4.9 m long, 1.8 m deep); constructed of solid oak, they weighed 7,800 pounds (3,500 kg) empty; when loaded with ore, the total weight of the mule train was 73,200 pounds (33.2 metric tons or 36.6 short tons).

 

Borax - detergent
Borax – detergent

Today, this is the final product…

 

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