We see this road sign and are intrigued. We'd come across the mule team in Death Valley in 2003, which seems to need a post!
Boron is a hinterland community on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Within a half day's drive, one can view the highest and lowest points in the contiguous 48 states of the United States (Mount Whitney and Death Valley), the world's oldest tree, the bristlecone pine, and the cities of both Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
We are intrigued and decide to check out the Visitors' Centre, if, for nothing else to use the bathrooms.
As we enter, we start wondering if it would be open on a Saturday, yup, the sign says seven days a week.
Definitely the working operations.
Boron is home to the U.S. Borax Boron Mine, California's largest open-pit mine, which is also the largest borax mine in the world.
HMMM looks like the Visitors' Centre is up there.
Bathrooms straight ahead! Not a very busy place.
Borax traces its roots to California’s Death Valley, where borate deposits were discovered in 1872. The twenty mule teams Borax used to haul ore out of the remote desert live on as a symbol of the company’s commitment to innovation.
We go into the Visitors' Centre and are greeted by senior volunteers who clearly had worked at the mine.
The current open pit in the Mojave Desert began as an underground mine in 1927, and Boron Operations was converted to a surface mine in the late 1950s. At this time extensive facilities for refining ore were built. In 1980, Borax built its boric acid plant, securing the company’s position as the world’s leading boric acid supplier.
So what the heck is borax? I knew we used it in laundry detergent, I have a vague memory of my mother buying it.
We had no idea what it was used for other than that!
I decided to check out how safe borax is in the products we use. I found the following from David Suzuki:
Before 2000, borax was a common household item. It was a popular, effective cleaning product. It disinfects, whitens and fights mold and mildew. It also kills ants (used as a low-risk pesticide).
Many DIY cleaning recipes featured borax as an eco-friendlier option to petroleum-based ingredients in conventional cleaning products.
In 2008, the European Union (PDF) classified boric acid and borax as reproductive toxins. But it said consumer exposure to low doses of borates in cleaning products—soaps and detergents—is 'negligible.'
In 2016, Health Canada did a screening assessment of boric acid: "The Government of Canada is proposing that boric acid, its salts, and its precursors may be considered harmful to human health at current levels of exposure."
- Through food (such as fruits and vegetables) and drinking water. But "Natural sources of boric acid in food (for example, fruits and vegetables) are not considered to be a health risk."
- Through common consumer products such as pesticides, cleaning products, cosmetics, drugs, natural health products, and swimming pool and spa products.
- From DIY arts and crafts and toys made with boric acid.
Am I the only one who doesn't remember this TV show?
Death Valley Days was an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley area. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945 and continued from 1952 to 1970 as a syndicated television series, with reruns (updated with new narrations) continuing through August 1, 1975. The radio and TV versions combined to make the show "one of the longest-running western programs in broadcast history.
The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company (20 Mule Team Borax, Boraxo) and hosted by Stanley Andrews, alias "the Old Ranger" (1952–1963), Ronald Reagan (1964–1965), Rosemary DeCamp (1965), Robert Taylor (1966–1969), and Dale Robertson (1969–1970). With the passing of Dale Robertson in 2013, all the former Death Valley Days hosts are now deceased. Hosting the series was Reagan's final work as an actor; he was cast in eight episodes of the series.
Click here to see the multitudes of stars who played parts over the years.
Clint Eastwood starred in the episode The Last Letter.
Leonard Nimoy, DeForrest Kelley and George Takai also played parts.
Here's an episode hosted by Ronald Reagan.
We then attended a short documentary and after that, the volunteer opened the curtains so we had an incredible view of the pit.
Some of our questions were answered by the volunteer as she explained what was going on.
There is no housing on the site, most work 3 or 4 day weeks, commuting from Bakersfield, Palmdale.
An hour later and we are back on the road. No woder it takes us so long to get anywhere!