California, Death Valley, Furnace Creek, Harmony Borax Works, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Twenty Mule Teams, Ubehebe Crater
As promised, part two of our visit to beautiful Death Valley documented with Ed’s wonderful photos of this unique landscape.
Harmony Borax Works
Borax was discovered near Furnace Creek in 1881 and by 1884 the Harmony Borax Works was processing the ore. The greatest obstacle to this venture was the 165 mile distance to Mojave, the nearest railhead. Wagons weighing 7,800 pounds empty were constructed to haul the ore. A “train” of two of these wagons plus a metal water tank where hitched to a team of 18 mules and 2 horses. When loaded it weighed in at 73,200 lbs, (36.5 tons) and it took ten days to haul the ore from the mine to the rail yard. Although only operating for 6 years, the 20 Mule Team is still Death Valley’s most famous symbol.
A .8 mile boardwalk loop which affords an up close look at pickleweed and salt grass growing in the salt marsh and along Salt Creek, which is also the only home to the Salt Creek Pupfish.
Devil’s Corn Field
Near the Mesquite Flat Dunes, Devil’s Corn Field is a flat plain covered with large clumps of salt tolerant Arrowweed. Catching and holding windblown sand at their base, these tall straight stalked grasses look very much like sheaves of harvested corn.
Mesquite Flat Dunes
The Ubehebe (YOO-bee-HEE-bee) Crater and the smaller Little Hebe Crater and several other small craters in the area, are known as Maar volcanos. They are created when hot magna rising through a fault flashes ground water into steam which expands with incredible pressure releasing in a tremendous explosion called a hydrovolcanic eruption.
NOTE: Several postings ago I mentioned more research needed to be done about the bones we found in Banshee Canyon at Hole In The Wall. I did more investigating and we are now 99% sure the bones and certainly the two skulls are Harris Antelope Squirrels which we also saw playing on the rocks there. That being the case, the feasting almost had to be by owls. Hawks might also partake, but we believe owls would be more likely to live in the holes in the rock walls.
The third and last photo collection of Death Valley is coming real soon!