After Death Valley denies my ass with a road closure, I decide to spend a little extra time in and around Trona, CA.
The dumb ass that vandalized this sign probably believes that Obama control’s the weather thus creating the flood that washed out the road that leads from Trona into Death Valley. Looks like my day just changed. Let’s explore, shall we?
Found this random shack on the opposing hill across the dry lake bed from Ballarat.
Also found this colorful mining structure at an unknown mine about 4 miles north of town.
This totally random bowling pin was on some ruins of an old mining area north of town.
Fish Rocks, an institution in these parts, is located in Poison Canyon south of town.
Trona is at the western edge of Searles Lake, a dry lake bed in Searles Valley, southwest of Death Valley. The town takes its name from the mineral trona, which is abundant in the lake bed.
Starting in the late 1800s, mining industry set up around Searles Dry Lake to mine borax. Trona was officially established in 1913, as a self-contained company town, wholly operated by its resident mining company to house employees. Employees were paid in company scrip instead of cash. The mining company also built a library, a scrip-accepting for-profit grocery store, a school, basic housing, and minimal recreation facilities. The Trona Railway was built in 1913–14 to provide the town with a rail connection to the Southern Pacific (now the Union Pacific) line at Searles. The railway still operates today.
Economic booms and busts followed. Its most notable boom occurred during World War I, when Trona was the only reliable American source of potash, an important element used in the production of gunpowder.
Today, Searles Valley Minerals Inc.’s soda ash processing plant remains the largest firm in town. Other operations nearby include evaporative salt extraction from the dry lake bed’s surface and a lime quarry. Searles Valley Minerals is the largest employer in Trona, and many employees live in Ridgecrest, California, commuting daily to Trona.
Company town’s seem to always fail or at least leave a trail of devastation, and Trona’s no exception.
I’m guessing at least a few of these folks probably died from working at the factory. In a company town, you live and die for the company. RIP.
Trona Pinnacles is located approximately 20 miles east of Ridgecrest. Access from a BLM dirt road (RM143) that leaves SR 178, about 7.7 miles east of the intersection of SR 178 and the Trona-Red Mountain Road. The 5-mile long dirt road from SR 178 to the Pinnacles is usually accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles, however, the road may be closed during the winter months or after a heavy rain.
This unique landscape consists of more than 500 tufa (calcium carbonate) pinnacles rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. These tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, were formed underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in an interconnected chain of Pleistocene lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley.
The Trona Pinnacles were designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark in 1968 to protect one of the nation’s best examples of tufa formation.
Located at around 2,000 feet above sea level in the Western Mojave Desert, the Trona Pinnacles is an ideal place to explore in the fall, winter, and spring months. Visiting the site in the early morning and evening is especially dramatic as are nights with a full moon. Summer temperatures often exceed 115°F at the Trona Pinnacles, so if you plan on visiting in the summer try the early morning or evening hours. Bring plenty of water (at least 2 gallons of water/person), and if you do not have 4-wheel drive, stay out of the sand washes. Quite a few cars have been stranded in the wide sand wash that divides the main Pinnacles group.