Visiting Boron, CA and the Borax Visitor Center
Now that the weather has cleared and we’re back to typical sunny California days I’m feeling the urge to get out and explore. Whether it’s a local spot or something further afield I just want to get out there and see it. Recently, I had a free Saturday so I decided to head out to the Mojave for an adventure and came upon the tiny town of Boron.
Boron, a couple hours drive north of LA, is a small desert community in Kern County famous for being the home of the world’s largest borax mine. In the 1880’s it was discovered that the area was rich in the mineral and soon mining started in Death Valley. Because there were no nearby railroads it was transported to the town of Mojave via the Twenty Mule Team.
Today, in the heart of Boron is the Twenty Mule Team Museum devoted to this unique piece of history as well as the town itself.
From 1883 to 1889 the Twenty Mule Team transported borax (25 tons at a time) the 162 miles from Death Valley to the town of Mojave. In the 6 years the mule team traveled this route they carried over 20 million pounds of borax!
The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into this unique part of California history. I also really enjoyed its focus on local history. That’s really one of my favorite aspects of small town museums. Where else can you find displays devoted to local schools, ball teams and mine employees?
Of course, the town’s claim to fame is borax so there’s plenty of exhibits devoted to the mineral.
Speaking of borax, you may be wondering without the mule team how is it transported today? Via a big, gigantic truck.
See those tires? They’re taller than me!
Since Boron is home to the world’s largest borax mine I figured I should go check it out. Luckily, there’s a visitor center onsite which is open to the public.
In 1890 Pacific Coast Borax Company was formed and began to offer 20 Mule Team Borax to the public. To this day it’s still available for purchase and its main ingredient is mined at the Rio Tinto Mine located just outside of Boron.
Driving towards the mine felt like I was driving to the middle of nowhere but soon I came upon the facility and the Borax Visitor Center complete with an authentic Twenty Mule Team Wagon.
Inside are numerous displays devoted to the mineral and the mining process. I was most amazed by just how many products borax is found in.
Enamelware? Motor Oil? Insulation? Play-doh??? Wow. It really is an all purpose mineral.
Of course, the biggest draw is the mine itself and the center offers an impressive view.
And if you’re not content to see it through a window you can take a ramp to the top of the building for an even better view.
I can’t explain just how gigantic that mine is. It’s humongous – like a man-made Grand Canyon. It’s been in operation since the 1890’s and is not expected to run dry until the next century. What a wonder in the middle of the Mojave!
Although, it was a beautiful clear day it was extremely windy and I could see a sandstorm coming so I decided to leave Boron for my next destination. Boron may be a small town in the middle of nowhere but it has a fascinating history that I’m glad I discovered. California never ceases to amaze me.