OLD HARMONY BORAX WORKS

Death Valley Travel Blog

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We just drove through this and took pictures from the car. we did see the 20 mule team wagons.

When Aaron and Rosie Winters filed claims on the borax deposits near Harmony in 1881, borax was so precious it was called " white gold". It was used in pottery glazes for china and porcelain enamel, as a flux and deoxidizer in welding, soldering, brazing, smelting and refining metals, as a mild antiseptic, soap and laundry aid, as a food preservative-- to name a few of its uses. Once William T. Coleman bought the claims and started up his mining operation in 1882, he faced numerous problems. J.W. S. Perry designed the transportation system of 20 mule teams to haul the borax along the rugged 165 mile journey.
ME AND WILL
Getting a road through the valley floor in the terrain near the Devils Golf Course was achieved by sending the Chinese laborers with sledgehammers to beat a path for the 20 mule team wagons. The workers mined the borax by raking it from the valley floor and from there it was brought to the processing plant where it was melted down and hardened again before being hauled out. From 1883-1888 the famous mule teams hauled borax out of Death Valley. At Harmony Borax works one can see the old processing plant and a 20 mule team wagon. A paved path takes you around the exhibits from the parking area where you can imagine what the lives of the workers would have been like.

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HELLO CALI
Death Valley National Park is a mostly arid United States National Park located east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in southern Inyo County and northern San Bernardino County in California with a small extension into southwestern Nye County and extreme southern Esmeralda County in Nevada. In addition, there is also an exclave (Devil's Hole) in southern Nye County. The park covers 5,219 mi² (13,518 km²), encompassing Saline Valley, a large part of Panamint Valley, almost all of Death Valley, and parts of several mountain ranges. It is the hottest and driest of the national parks in the United States and contains the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at Badwater, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level.
BYE BYE NEVADA
It is also home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include Creosote Bush, Bighorn Sheep, Coyote, and the Death Valley Pupfish �" a survivor of much wetter times. Approximately 95% of the park is designated as wilderness.

Mining was the primary activity in the area before it was protected. The first known non-Native Americans to enter Death Valley did so in the winter of 1849, thinking they would save some time by taking a shortcut to the gold fields of California. They were stuck for weeks and in the process gave the Valley its name even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprung up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to exploit minor local bonanzas of gold. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined, however, was borax; a mineral used to make soap and an important industrial compound.
SCOTTY'S CASTLE
20-Mule Teams were famously used to transport this ore out of the Valley, helping to make it famous and the subject or set of numerous books, radio programs, television series, and movies. Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed in 1933, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated a national park, as well as being substantially expanded to include, for example, Saline and Eureka Valleys.

The natural environment of the area has been profoundly shaped by its geology. The oldest rocks are extensively metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient warm, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes.
COTTONWOOD TREE
Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the Basin and Range landform we see today. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of ice ages, with lakes, such as Lake Manly.

GEOGRAPHIC SETTING

At 282 feet (86 m) below sea level, Badwater on Death Valley's floor is the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (behind Laguna del Carbón in Argentina), while Mount Whitney, only 85 miles (140 km) to the west, rises to 14,505 feet (4,421 m). This topographic relief is the greatest elevation gradient in the contiguous United States and is the terminus point of the Great Basin's southwestern drainage. Although the extreme lack of water in the Great Basin makes this distinction of little current practical use, it does mean that in wetter times the lake that once filled Death Valley (Lake Manly) was the last stop for water flowing in the region, meaning the water there was relatively saturated in dissolved materials.
Thus salt pans in Death Valley are among the largest in the world and are rich in minerals, such as borax and various salts and hydrates. The largest salt pan in the park extends 40 miles (65 km) from the Ashford Mill Site to the Salt Creek Hills, covering some 200 square miles (500 km²) of the Valley floor (Badwater, the Devils Golf Course, and Salt Creek are all part of this feature). The second-best known playa in the park is the Racetrack, famous for its mysterious moving rocks.

CLIMATE

Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in North America due to its lack of surface water and its low relief. On July 10, 1913, a record 134 °F (56.7 °C) was measured at the Weather Bureau's observation station at Greenland Ranch (now the site for the Furnace Creek Inn), which is (as of 2007) the highest temperature ever recorded on that continent.
desert gold poppy
Daily summer temperatures of 120 °F (49 °C) or greater are common as well as below freezing nightly temperatures in the winter.
Desert, radiator water tank near Grapevine
Desert, radiator water tank near Grapevine

The National Weather Service reports that July is the hottest month, with an average high of 114.9 °F (46.1 °C). and an average low of 86.3 °F (30.2 °C). December is the coldest month, with an average high of 65.1 °F (18.4 °C) and an average low of 37.5 °F (3.1 °C). The record low at the Furnace Creek Inn is 15 °F (-9.4 °C). There are an average of 189.3 days annually with highs of 90 °F (32.2 °C) or higher and 138 days annually with highs of 100 °F (37.8 °C). or higher. Freezing temperatures (32 °F/0 °C or lower) occur on an average of 11.7 days annually.
desert gold poppy


THE WILDFLOWERS

    
Desert Wildflowers
 
Death Valley Wildflower Viewing Guidelines

Will the flowers be good this year?
Where can we go to see them?
What kinds/colors will there be?
When will the peak bloom be?

These questions are often asked by people planning spring visits to Death Valley. Although there are many variables involved in the desert wildflower shows, there are a few guidelines you can use to find answers to these questions.

Some years the desert is spectacular with wildflowers; other years the blossoms are almost nonexistent (but never totally absent). A good wildflower year depends on at least three things:

    * Well-spaced rainfall through-out the winter and early spring
    * Sufficient warmth from the sun
    * Lack of desiccating winds

There are over 1000 plant species in Death Valley National Park, including 13 species of cactus and 23 endemics (plants that are known to grow only in the Death Valley region).
more desert gold poppy
Most of the "showy" plants are desert annuals, also referred to as ephemerals (short-lived). Colors range from white and yellow to purple, blue, red and bright magenta.

The best time to see a spring floral display is in years when rainfall has been several times the Death Valley annual average of about 1.9 inches. In general, heavy rains in late October with no more rain through the winter months, will not bring out the flowers as well as rains that are evenly-spaced throughout the winter and into the spring.

Peak Blooming Periods for Death Valley are usually...

Mid February - Mid April at lower elevations (valley floor and alluvial fans)

    * Best Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass
    * Dominant species: desert star, blazing star, desert gold, mimulus, encelia, poppies, verbena, evening primrose, phacelia, and various species of cacti (usually above the valley floor).
will in salt creek


Early April - Early May at 2,000 to 4,000 ft. elevations

    * Best areas: Panamint Mountains
    * Dominant species: paintbrush, Mojave desert rue, lupine, Joshua tree, bear poppy, cacti and Panamint daisies.

Late April - Early June above 4,000 ft. elevations

    * Best areas: High Panamints
    * Dominant species: Mojave wildrose, rabbitbrush, Panamint daisies, mariposa lilies and lupine.



salt creek
We were disappointed with that one. we proceed to go to our next "point of interest", artists drive and artist palette,  which was another 30mins away. on the way there. we started to notice yellow flowers are increasing as the elevation lowers. desert gold poppies are coating the hills with yellow. it was beautiful. however, Will and i are aiming for the purple flower, mojave desert-rue and the pink flower, desert 5 spot. unfortunately, we did not see any. the ranger at beatty, warned us that we not see many flowers cuz, there was a wind storm a few days ago. BUMMER :(

we drove passed golden canyon. we didn't hike the back canyon. we just took pictures. Near Furnace Creek, road 190 climbs into the Grapevine Mountains towards the atmospheric town of Death Valley Junction.
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
Two miles south,  golden canyon is a short gorge that cuts into brightly colored sandstone rocks in many glowing shades of orange, gold and red, with the ever-present deep blue sky above making the hues seem especially sharp and intense. Once there was a paved road running up the whole length but this has long been disused and most sections have eroded away. Now, travel on foot is the only option, and the hike is one of the most popular in the national park. Trail guides describing numbered points of interest are available at the nearby carpark.


we arrived at artist drive and artist palette, it is a side drive from the main road. A nine mile one-way scenic loop drive through the fantastically colored clay and mudstones of the Artist's Drive Formation. These ancient volcanic ashfalls have been weathered by time and hot groundwater into clays of every color from pale aqua blue-green to rich carmine red. that was a gorgeous drive.
shirlan says:
Easy to see why it is called Artists Drive and Palette!
Posted on: Dec 11, 2008
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
devil's golf course was 15min away. we were looking forward to this. we had to drive on a graveled and rocky road. i would like to see Will's car's under cariage after this HAHAHAHA. we were disappointed when we got there. the picture on the internet and books was not the same. on the books it was jagged salt crystals what we saw was rocks covered with salt like a powdered sugar on a chocolate donut....HMMMMMM YUMMY :P  we looked at each other and looked at the time. "THAT WAS A WASTE O TIME". it was 1pm and hot. i took off my hoodie and turtle neck. (SEE INTERNET PIC AND MINE).

the Devil's Golf Course is a large salt pan in Death Valley National Park, with a rough surface formed of large salt crystals. It was named after a line in a 1934 National Park Service guide book to Death Valley, which stated that "only the devil could play golf" on its surface.


In the holocene epoch, a lake covered the valley to a depth of 30 feet; the salt in Devil's Golf Course consists of the minerals that were dissolved in the lake water and left behind as the lake evaporated. With an elevation several feet above the valley floor in Badwater, the Devil's Golf Course remains dry, allowing weathering processes to sculpt the salt there into complicated forms. Through exploratory holes drilled by the Pacific Coast Borax Co. prior to Death Valley becoming a national monument in 1934, it was discovered that the salt and gravel beds of the Devil's Golf Course extend to a depth of more than 1000 feet, and later studies suggest that in places the depth ranges up to 9000 feet.

Devil's Golf Course can be reached from Badwater Road via a 1.3-mile gravel drive, closed in wet weather. It should not be confused with the actual golf course in Furnace Creek, also in Death Valley.
artist drive
WOO HOO, WE ARE ALMOST THERE....It was an hour drive from beatty, NV to the california border. as soon as you cross the california border it is death valley national park. we stopped to take pictures of the sign "entering california" and the "welcome to nevada" sign behind us. we were very anxious to come here.

after 30mins, we saw scotty's castle. we did not want to spend time there. it was a little over 10am. we wanted to see more of the park before dark. however, next time we shall go. there is a good story about it. i will add later.

we saw a 2 cottonwood trees. Will said if you ever get lost in the desert. find these trees. dig to the roots, cottonwood trees absorbs water at night then release the water by morning you will have a pool of water to drink. if you can survive the next day HAHAHAHA

it was such a gorgeous view for the next 2hrs. til salt creek. we just kept pulling over to take pictures. it was getting warmer as well. the more south we went to lower we were driving. i took pics of signs showing what elevation we were at. 2000 feet....1000 feet.....sea level....below sea level.....

OUR ROAD TRIP BEGINS FROM NORTH TO SOUTH AND EXITING GOING TO BAKER, CA HOWEVER, WE ARE DRIVING AN 1HR. OUT OF OUR WAY FOR SOME GREEK FOOD AT THE MAD GREEK (SEE REVIEW) :)


devil's golf course
Will and i decided on the road that we are "DEATH VALLEY-ED" out. after badwater we are gonna eat at the MAD GREEK in baker, CA. we are taking the long way home but, who cares it wanted to slavage the day with a good meal.

we headed out to badwater it was about 15mins. drive. we saw it from the hill. you can't miss all the cars parked near it. we had a bad feeling when all we saw was a 10 x 25 feet wide of badwater....salty badwater.....

Will also noticed the "SEA LEVEL" sign is on the side of the mountain wall. WOW that is how low we are. we were being corny and took pics of the "BADWATER BASIN: 282 BELOW SEA LEVEL" sign. my digi cam could not zoom in closer. i am gonna have to steal it from Wil when he blogs it. :P

The low, salty pool at Badwater, just beside the main park road is probably the best known and most visited place in Death Valley.
devil's golf course (internet pic)
The actual lowest point (-282 feet) is located several miles from the road and is not easily accessible - in fact its position varies, but a sign in front of the pool proclaims it too to have an elevation of -282 feet, and it is here that everyone comes to take photographs. An enlarged parking area and other new facilities were constructed in fall 2003 to cope with the ever increasing visitor numbers at the site.

Sea Level: There is not much else to see apart from an orientation table, identifying many of the surrounding mountains. High in the rocky cliffs above the road, another sign reads 'SEA LEVEL', giving a good indication of just how low the land is. Far above this, the overlook at Dante's Peak has imposing views over Badwater and the surrounding desert.
natural bridge


Salt Pools: Several salt trails and shallow seasonal streams lead towards other pools out across the valley. During occasional rainy periods, a large shallow lake forms, several miles across and only a few inches deep, but most of the water soon evaporates or sinks below ground. Badwater never dries out completely, and even manages to support a unique species of fish - the Death Valley pupfish, a small bluish creature which has evolved to survive in the hot saline conditions. South of the salt pools, the seasonal Amargosa River meanders for 30 miles via several routes towards the mouth of the valley, before sinking into the sand.

Heat: Apart from the high temperatures, one unusual feeling is the heaviness of the air - all movement seems more laboured and difficult than usual. The shade temperature here was 125°F when I first visited, in July 1995. It is an unforgettable experience to wander a little way out onto the salt flats, and just stand for a while in the stifling heat.

I WOULD LIKE TO COME HERE. THIS TIME TO HAVE A 4X4 TRUCK TO GO TO RACE TRACK AND SAND DUNES. ALSO UBEHABE CRATER, SCOTTY'S CASTLE, FURNACE CREEK,  DANTES VIEW AND ZABRISKIE POINT.

WILL AND I HAD A GOOD TIME. GOOD COMPANY, GOOD LAUGHS, AND GOOD DAY :)

WOO HOO OFF TO BAKER FOR SOME GYROS :)
mellemel8 says:
WELCOME WALT :)
Posted on: Feb 22, 2008
WaltJake says:
Great blog! Death Valley was one of our favorite National Parks on our cross country trip...which was unexpected! We were just "passing through" on our way to Grand Canyon from Sequoia NP, and I'm glad we did! Lots of cool stuff to see and do...thanks for bringing back memories!
Posted on: Feb 21, 2008
Our next stop was the "natural bridge". another 15min drive. Of the many easily explored side canyons in the cliffs on the east side of Death Valley, one of the few with an official trailhead is Natural Bridge Canyon, reached by a spur road off CA 178, 4 miles south of the start of the Artist's Drive scenic loop. A short walk up the stony streambed leads to a large natural bridge, one of several such features in the national park - several more are found after a rather longer (3 mile) walk up Little Bridge Canyon, the next major drainage south of Grotto Canyon near Stovepipe Wells.

The Canyon: From the parking area, it takes about 15 minutes walking up a gentle but constant gradient, along the pebble floor to the natural bridge, which extends across the whole canyon and is quite impressive though not as graceful as the smooth sandstone arches of Utah.
below sea level - badwater
The bridge is made of conglomerate and looks somewhat unstable from beneath, with deep cracks running through the span. After the bridge the ravine bends a few times and enters a layer of red rock where the canyon narrows, climbs over two small dryfalls and at one point is partially blocked by a large boulder, but with room to pass underneath. Next is a much bigger fall about 30 feet high, not easily scaled though this can be avoided by scrambling up the weathered cliffs on the left side. Above, the canyon seems to gain elevation more quickly, becomes shallower and branches several times - it doesn't seem worth continuing beyond here. Other points of interest in the main canyon are several smooth vertical chutes in the walls, formed by flood waters flowing from hanging side canyons.

badwater basin
it was such a gorgeous view for the next 2hrs. til salt creek. we just kept pulling over to take pictures. it was getting warmer as well. the more south we went to lower we were driving. i took pics of signs showing what elevation we were at. 2000 feet....1000 feet.....sea level....

there was also some wild flowers near the main road. we pulled over to take pictures of the desert gold poppies......

SALT CREEK, HOME OF THE ENDANGERED PUPFISH

Will has a "small sports car" which i don't think he doesn't. we risked to drive the graveled road to salt creek. it took us about 15mins to arrive. it was pretty bad. when we go there is was a somewhat dry creek. we had to walk on the boardwalk. as we walk more the creek was wider and more water. NO PUPFISH TO BE SEEN.
salt flats
when we walked back to the car. i dared myself to lean over to taste the water. Will stood over and just took pics of me tasting the water. i was practically hanging out from the boadwalk to grab a handfull of salt creek water (WILL HAS THE PICS, HE NEEDS TO EMAIL IT TO ME ASAP) ADD PICS LATER......

NOTE: OFF ROAD 4X4 HIGH CLEARANCE TRUCKS IS A MUST COMING TO DEATH VALLEY IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE "MUST SEE" SPOTS LIKE "THE RACE TRACK AND SAND DUNES.

The Death Valley pupfish, Cyprinodon salinus salinus, is a species of fish that is the last known survivor of what is thought to have been a large ecosystem of fish species that lived in Lake Manly which dried up at the end of the last ice age leaving the present day Death Valley in California. The pupfish is adapted to the shallow, hot, salty water of a particular part of Salt Creek that flows above ground year-round, and is also sometimes referred to as Salt Creek Pupfish. A subspecies lives in nearby Cottonwood Marsh.

mellemel8 says:
thanks D :)
Posted on: Feb 22, 2008
Devika1985 says:
i like thisblog :)
Posted on: Feb 21, 2008
Devika1985 says:
nice pictures
Posted on: Feb 21, 2008
ME AND WILL
ME AND WILL
HELLO CALI
HELLO CALI
BYE BYE NEVADA
BYE BYE NEVADA
SCOTTYS CASTLE
SCOTTY'S CASTLE
COTTONWOOD TREE
COTTONWOOD TREE
desert gold poppy
desert gold poppy
desert gold poppy
desert gold poppy
more desert gold poppy
more desert gold poppy
will in salt creek
will in salt creek
salt creek
salt creek
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
artist drive
artist drive
devils golf course
devil's golf course
devils golf course (internet pic)
devil's golf course (internet pic)
natural bridge
natural bridge
below sea level - badwater
below sea level - badwater
badwater basin
badwater basin
salt flats
salt flats
elevation 2242ft.
elevation 2242ft.
elevation -190 feet below sea level
elevation -190 feet below sea level
wagon wheel tracks
wagon wheel tracks
wagon wheel history
wagon wheel history
TO THE CALI BORDER
TO THE CALI BORDER
desert ground cover
desert ground cover
salt creek
salt creek
salt creek
salt creek
salt creek
salt creek
ME
ME
ME....silly
ME....silly
ME AGAIN...
ME AGAIN...
ME AGAIN.....
ME AGAIN.....
BIG DIP
BIG DIP
artist drive
artist drive
more dersert gold poppy
more dersert gold poppy
salt flats
salt flats
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
HARMONY BORAX WORKS
artist palette
artist palette
devils golf course
devil's golf course
devils golf course
devil's golf course
devils golf course
devil's golf course
devils golf course
devil's golf course
little sign says sea level in th…
little sign says "sea level" in t…
natural bridge
natural bridge
salt flats
salt flats
view from the hike to natural brid…
view from the hike to natural bri…
the hike through the canyon to nat…
the hike through the canyon to na…
natural bridge
natural bridge
view of the salt flats from natura…
view of the salt flats from natur…
candid shot by will
candid shot by will
ME and salt flats
ME and salt flats
will, below sea level - badwater
will, below sea level - badwater
wow look at that salt flat by will
wow look at that salt flat by will
Death Valley
photo by: Margarita