Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Boron CA & Laughlin, NV... April, 2017

Viewpoint overlooking mine.
The small town of Boron is famous for borax mining. It's an older town with a museum/visitors center that's worth a stop. The museum highlights local and mining history. We had lunch at the 20 Mule diner across the street...tasty Mexican food. After lunch we drove to the mine a few miles out of town. The mine also has a visitors center with informational displays and a short video about this huge mining operation. Viewpoints outside provide an overlook of the mine…a massive hole in the ground. I liked the piles of rocks in the parking lot…rocks/minerals from the mine, visitors could take a favorite or two. I was in rock heaven…but our RV and DH (dear husband) keep me in check. I did get a couple small ones to add to my rock jar. :) 
We learned a great deal about borax that day...
1881- Borax is discovered in Death Valley and mining begins.
Borax was transported out of Death Valley to a railroad hub near Boron using mule power. These were the 20 Mule Team years. These great mule teams traveled 162 miles from Death Valley to the railroad point. Their route took them through some of the most forbidding land on earth, summer temperatures ranged from 136-150 degrees. They covered approximately 16-18 miles a day, the one way trip took about 10 days. The wagons were built big and strong, the rear wheels being 7 ft high with steel tires 8” wide. A mule train consisted of two big ore wagons, a water tank wagon holding 1,200 gallons and necessary supplies. A fully loaded wagon train weighed approximately 36 tons. The Harmony Mine in Death Valley was closed after rich deposits were found in the Boron area, close to the rail lines.  
Borates (borax) are used in cleaning products, glass to increase strength, fertilizers, fiberglass, wood treatments, nutrition and additives in many other products.
The mine in Boron is California’s largest open-pit mine and the largest borax mine in the world. 

Retired truck from the mine, on display at the town museum. The museum host told us this is a "baby" truck compared to what they're using today.

Have you ever seen a speed limit at 37 1/2? 

This was posted on the road into the borax mine. 
Caught our attention which is probably the point.  

 Laughlin, NV

Davis Dam on the Colorado River in Laughlin. There was a beautiful walking and bike trial from the casino strip to the Davis Dam, the city has done a nice job providing outdoor recreation as well as the casino attractions. The road across the top of the dam is closed to vehicle traffic, it's open to pedestrians and bikes. We rode to the top and found a good view and informative signs about the dam. 

We loved talking evening strolls along the River walk, it runs between the casinos and the river. Many of the casinos have large outdoor patio areas, we enjoyed a blues music festival one evening.

We took a narrated cruise on the Colorado, beautiful evening skyline.

Laughlin has an interesting history, the town was started in 1966, hard to believe looking at the hustle and bustle today and think we’re older than this town! Yikes. :)
In 1964 Don Laughlin (from Minnesota) bought a boarded up 8 room motel and built it into the Riverside Resort which opened in 1966. The area was once home to the construction crews that built the Davis Dam, when the dam was completed the workers moved on, the little settlements dried up. Old foundations can still be explored along the walking/biking trail. From what we’ve read, Don Laughlin has donated millions to the community in which he still lives and can be seen frequenting his establishment and chatting with customers.  

A most legendary story about a Laughlin resident. Mrs Lafferty, in her 70’s, had a home on  the Colorado River. Happened to be on the strip where casinos were building. A casino/resort wanting that bit of property offered her $250,000, then $500,000 and later $1million tax free, all to which she refused. It was said she loved her home on the river and claimed there was no place she’d rather be. Then came a offer she couldn’t refuse…$2.5 million tax free, plus a suite on the top floor of a yet-to-be-built hotel tower at the Edgewater Casino, where she could live rent free for life. While the Edgewater was being built she spent some of her new fortune traveling the world and picking out furnishing for her new home. But she was never able to enjoy her new suite, she died a couple weeks before work was completed in 1991. Out of respect for her, the suite has never been rented on a permanent basis, it sits empty most the time. Her suite has the only balcony on the river side. (At the top left and you can make out her balcony.)

Grapevine Canyon… 
A few miles out of town is a great little hike into Grapevine Canyon, a natural spring flows thru the canyon keeping it lush and provides a water source for birds and big horn sheep. On the higher canyon walls are some well preserved petroglyphs that indicate the presence of ancient inhabitants.