High in the hills east of Calico and just off I-15 lies Mule Canyon and the late 19th Century site of borate mining at Borate, CA. Originally opened through the use of the famous 20 Mule Teams the borates were hauled out to Marion (NE of Daggett, CA) for processing.
The costs of such haulage and the smaller amounts that could be carried caused F. M. "Borax" Smith to build a narrow gauge railroad up the steep incline of Mule Canyon and then across the northern sides of the hills to reach Borate.
This view is taken just below the location of Smith's house, perched high on a knoll overlooking all three mines, the operations buildings and the railroad trestle (one of three major ones on the B&D).
Although production began declining in the first part of the 20th Century, the Borate & Daggett operated until 1907 when "Borax" Smith's new works were completed at the Lila C. Mine near Death Valley Junction.
Everything possible was hauled out, transported via the AT&SF to Ludlow and then up the T&T to Death Valley Junction or Ryan.
With California's new mining regulations, all the adits, shafts and most sites have been sealed and bulldozed over. Borate float can still be found in the canyon, though it's a good hike from Mule Canyon 'road'.
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