Sunday, July 5, 2015

Death Valley's Borax Museum: Chock full of minerals!

Death Valley is an eccentric roadside attraction unto itself. People look at you funny when you say you're looking forward to visiting there, but it's a stunningly beautiful place and home to a really swell offbeat museum. The Borax Museum sits in the oldest structure in Death Valley, a house constructed in 1883 by F.M. "Borax" Smith, founder of the Pacific Coast Borax Co. If I ever decide to have a nickname, I think "Borax" would be a pretty cool one. Borax, or sodium borate, is a non-toxic laundry product that could also clean and deodorize virtually anything in the house. In the late 1800s, a large deposit of it was found in Death Valley by a small-time miner, who made a fortune when he sold it to a San Francisco businessman. The location was so remote and ungodly hot that 20-mule teams were needed to haul the borax to a more hospitable processing location. People of a certain age are familiar with this scenario from the popular radio and TV series "Death Valley Days," at one time hosted by Borateem-pitchman and future president Ronald Reagan. The museum is in the Furnace Creek development of Death Valley and features lots of photos and artifacts and a friendly gal that will tell you all about them. A lot of sweat and toil was put into this product that's mostly forgotten today, but Borax may make a comeback as a green alternative to regular detergents. So stop in and see The Borax Museum... mule be glad you did (and that's not an empty pumice).

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