.... March 2010 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Double R Bar Drawing to raise money in Old Scout's name.

Pair of Ruger Old Army (New Models)
Walker 47 Cap & Ball
Roy Rogers items.

Remember 100% of ticket sales goes to Happy Trails Kids. 

Boron, California From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boron (formerly, Amargo, Baker, Borate, and Kern) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Kern County, California, United States. Boron is located 15 miles (24 km) east-southeast of Castle Butte, at an elevation of 2467 feet (752 m). The population was 2,025 at the 2000 census. In 1990 the population was 2,904.

Boron is a hinterland community on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. Within a half day's drive one can view the highest and lowest points in the contiguous 48 states of the United States (Mount Whitney and Death Valley), the world's oldest tree (the Bristlecone Pine), and the cities of both Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Boron is home to California's largest open-pit mine, which is also the largest borax mine in the world.


"Dr. J. K. Suckow was drilling a well for water 4 1/2 miles northwest of Boron when he discovered colemanite, a borax ore, in October, 1913. After his discovery, mining claims, mostly placer, were located in the area. The Pacific Coast Borax Company, upon recommendation of its field engineer, Clarence Rasor, acquired many of these claims, including the discovery well. The company then started explorations to determine the extent of the orebody. Suckow continued to have an interest in the area, working prospects east of his discovery well.

"In 1924, anxious to repeat his good fortune, Suckow sunk a shaft one-half mile away from his first, and he struck basalt at 180 feet (55 m) . The Pacific Coast Borax Company did their own prospecting in the same area, with almost the same results: basalt at 190 feet (58 m). However, persistence paid off. That same year Suckow sunk another shaft just a little south of his last one and found a 70-foot (21 m) thick bed of colemanite at 210 feet (64 m). In 1925 the Suckow Chemical Company produced a few hundred tons of colemanite from this shaft.

"In the Spring of 1925, William M. Dowsing and J. L. Hannan discovered a huge deposit 120 feet (37 m) thick just 1 1/2 miles west of Suckow's shaft, which they kept a secret until its extent was proven. Sold to the Pacific Coast Borax Company in early 1926, it became known as the Baker Mine. Beginning production in 1927, it yielded a substantial percentage of the borates produced in the Kramer District until 1935.

"Production began in December, 1929, at the Suckow Mine, located near the Baker Mine. Suckow Borax Mines Consolidated, Ltd. shared half-interest as tenant in common of the Suckow Mine with Borax Consolidated, Ltd. The two companies became involved in litigation which resulted in the closure of the mine in 1932. It was reopened in 1935 as the West Baker Mine with the Borax Consolidated, Ltd. as owners."

The first post office at Boron opened in 1938.


A large borax deposit was discovered in 1925, and the mining town of Boron was established soon thereafter. This borax deposit is now the world's largest borax mine, which is owned by Rio Tinto Minerals (formerly U.S. Borax). This is operated as an open-pit mine, which is the largest open-pit mine in California. This mine supplies nearly half of the world's supply of refined borates. Rio Tinto Minerals is Boron's primary employer, employing over 800 people.

6 miles (9.7 km) east of Boron, across the county line in San Bernardino County, is the world's largest solar power production facility. The Kramer Junction Company (KJC) is the Managing General Partner of the five 30-Megawatts Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) facilities located in the Mojave Desert at Kramer Junction, California. Together with its wholly owned subsidiary, KJC Operating Company, KJC operates and manages these facilities (SEGS III-VII). These units generate enough electricity to provide the electrical needs of 30,000 to 40,000 homes without the use of fossil fuels.

Public services
Law enforcement

Law enforcement services are provided by the Kern County Sheriff's Department. From 1933 to 1954 personnel from the Mojave Substation met the law enforcement need of the Boron area. The first actual office space occupied by the Sheriff's Office in Boron was a Quonset hut shared with the Fire Department in the 12200 block of Boron Avenue. This continued until 1963 when the Sheriff's Office established the substation building at 26949 Cote Street. This building housed a small jail and the Justice Court in Boron, which operated one day a week.

Fire services

In 1969 the new Boron station 17 opened at 26965 Cote Street. This fire station is operated by the Kern County Fire Department.


Boron schools are part of the Muroc Joint Unified School District. The local Boron schools include the K – 6 grade West Boron Elementary School, and the 7 – 12th grade Boron High School. Boron High School's mascot is the Bobcat. Boron's first school, Gephart School was built in 1929. It burned to the ground in 1994.


Boron's original church building was completed for the First Baptist Church in 1940. Boron currently has 8 churches. They are the Assembly of God Church, the Boron Bible Church, the Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the First Baptist Church of Boron, the Jesus Name Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church,St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Christians in Faith Church.


    * Boron is populated primarily by descendants of Oklahomans who came to California during the Great Depression. Despite its location only hours from Los Angeles, many people in Boron speak with an Oklahoman drawl.

    * The Space Shuttle Columbia turned over Boron on its way to Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1981

    * Boron was the home of "Walking George" Swain, whose penchant for walking made him a legend. George earned his name as "Walking George" because he never owned a car, or home, and walked to and from work — from his home, which was always rumored to be just a hole in the desert. He supposedly kept himself warm at night with a covering of newspapers. His wardrobe was always the same: wrinkled shirt and pants with well-worn boots. He attended local events and often played the piano for entertainment. He taught piano to children in Boron and played at the Baptist Church. On his 59th birthday in 1978 an article about George appeared in the Los Angeles Times. By May 1979 he was featured on the TV show "Real People". He died on April 25, 2000.

    * In early 1964 the town's greatest tragedy struck when two Boron High School cheerleaders, along with the school's assistant principal and his wife, were killed in an automobile accident returning from a basketball game at Trona, California. The automobile struck the rear end of an ore train parked on a railroad siding along Searles Station Road. There was only one survivor, a third cheerleader sitting in the middle of the back seat, Jennifer Vogel. The memorial service was held at the area's largest venue of the time, the Gephart School Gymnasium, which along with the school itself is no longer standing.


The movie Erin Brockovich (2000), starring Julia Roberts, and various other movies have been filmed in the town, often using citizens as extras.
    * Movies/shows using locations in and around Boron
        * Erin Brockovich (2000)
        * Gentleman Don La Mancha (2004)
        * Gridiron Gang (1993) (TV)
        * Neon Signs (1996)
        * Spotlight on Location: Erin Brockovich (2000)[25] (TV)
        * ...aka Making of 'Erin Brockovich', The (2000) (TV)
        * Death Valley Days (1952 - 1975)
        * The Carpetbaggers (1964

Twenty-mule team From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Twenty-mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that ferried borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. They traveled from mines to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles (275 km) away in Mojave, California. The routes were from Furnace Creek, California, to Mojave, California, and from the mines at Old Borate to Mojave.


In 1877, six years before twenty-mule teams had been introduced into Death Valley, Scientific American reported that Francis Marion Smith and his brother had shipped their company's borax in a 30-ton load using two large wagons, with a third wagon for food and water, drawn by a 24-mule team over a 160-mile stretch of desert between Teel's Marsh and Wadsworth, Nevada.

The twenty-mule-team wagons were among the largest ever pulled by draft animals, designed to carry 10 short tons (9 metric tons) of borax ore at a time. The rear wheels measured seven feet (2.1 m) high, with tires made of one-inch-thick (25 mm) iron. The wagon beds measured 16 feet long and were 6 feet deep (4.9 m long, 1.8 m deep); constructed of solid oak, they weighed 7,800 pounds (3,500 kg) empty; when loaded with ore, the total weight of the mule train was 73,200 pounds (33.2 metric tons or 36.6 short tons).

The first wagon was the trailer, the second was "the tender" or the "back action", and the tank wagon brought up the rear.

With the mules, the caravan stretched over 180 feet (55 m). No wagon ever broke down in transit on the desert due to their construction.

A 1,200-U.S.-gallon (4542.49 L) water tank was added to supply the mules with water en route.  There were water barrels on the wagons for the teamster and the swamper. Water supplies were refilled at springs along the way, as it was not possible to carry enough water for the entire trip. The tank water was used at dry camps and water stops.

The June 1940 issue of Desert Magazine confirms that the primary water tank was 1200 U.S. gallons. This detail is also given in "The History Behind the Scale Model".

An efficient system of dispersing feed and water along the road was put in use. Teams outbound from Mojave, pulling empty wagons, hauled their own feed and supplies, which were dropped off at successive camps as the outfit traveled. The supplies would be on hand to use when a loaded wagon came back the other way, and no payload space was wasted. There was one stretch of road where a 500-gallon wagon was added to take water to a dry camp for the team that would be coming from the opposite direction. The arriving team would use the water and take the empty tank back to the spring on their haul the next day, ready for re-filling and staging by the next outbound outfit.

The teams hauled more than 20 million pounds (9,000 metric tons) of borax out of Death Valley in the six years of the operation. Pacific Borax began shipping product by train in 1896.


Twenty-mule team in Death Valley, California.......The horses were the wheelers, the two closest to the wagon. They were ridden by one of the two men generally required to operate the wagons and were typically larger than their mule brethren. They had great brute strength for starting the wagons moving and could withstand the jarring of the heavy wagon tongue, but the mules were smarter and better suited to work in desert conditions. In the Proceedings Fifth Death Valley Conference on History and Prehistory, two articles discussed freight operations in the Mojave with specific details on the use of mules and horses. In "Of Myths and Men: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Twenty Mule Team Story", author Ted Fave discussed how the teams were assembled, trained, and used. "Nadeau's Freighting Teams in the Mojave", based on Remi Nadeau's historic accomplishments hauling freight throughout the desert region, gives further insight as to the superiority of mules for general use.

The teamster drove the team with a single long rein, known as a "jerk line", and the aid of a long blacksnake whip. The teamster usually rode the left wheeler, but he could also drive from the trailer seat, working the brake on steep descents. The swamper usually rode the trailer, but in hilly country, he would be on the back action available to work the brake. From the trailer, armed with a can of small rocks, he could pelt an inattentive mule and send it back to work. Both men were responsible for readying the team, feeding and watering of the mules, and any veterinary care or repairs that needed to be done. There was a mid-day stop to feed and water the mules in harness. The night stops had corrals and feed boxes for the mules. A day's travel averaged about 17 miles, varying slightly from leg to leg. It took about ten days to make a trip one way. Cabins were constructed by the company for use of drivers and swampers at the night stops.

Francis Marion Smith, who came to be known as "Borax Smith", founded Pacific Borax. Cora Keagle recounted his history in an article, "Buckboard Days in Borate", published in Desert Magazine in September 1939 . Smith was a great promoter and sent drivers out with jerk-line teams to major U.S. cities to promote the company's laundry product with free samples. The exhibition teams were typically mules for the promotion value, but Smith explained that in actual use, wheel horses were a standard practice. Outside contractors hauling for the company typically used mixed teams.

Joe Zentner wrote of the origins of the advertising campaign on the Desert USA website in "Twenty Mule Teams on the move in Death Valley". Bill Parkinson, formerly a night watchman for the company, had to learn quickly how to drive the team when he was given the role of "Borax Bill". He was the first, but not the last, driver known by that name. The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was the maiden appearance for the team and was such a success that Parkinson went on tour.

The team eventually made its way to New York City, parading down Broadway. After that showing, the mules were sold, and the wagons shipped back to California. The mules also appeared at the Golden Gate Bridge dedication, according to "The Last Ride, the Borax Twenty Mule Team 1883 - 1999".

A short item in the June 1940 edition of Desert Magazine mentioned that two of the original borax wagons were en route to the New York World's Fair. The item followed with the note that muleskinner "Borax Bill" Parkinson had driven an original wagon from Oakland, California, to New York City in 1917, spending two years on the journey.  The mule team also made periodic re-enactment appearances on hauls into Death Valley.

In 1958, a twenty-mule team made a symbolic haul out of the new pit at U.S. Borax, commemorating the transition from underground to open-pit mining. Other appearances for twenty-mule teams included President Wilson's inauguration in 1917.

Promotional team appearances ended with an outing in the January 1, 1999, Rose Parade. The team had a shakedown outing in a 1998 Boron, California, parade. The company spent $100,000, refitting the 115-year-old wagons and obtaining harness and mules for the performance. There were no plans for additional public appearances for advertising purposes, as the company no longer had a retail product line.

U.S. Borax put out a paperback publication entitled The Last Ride, the Borax Twenty Mule Team 1883 - 1999 that included many details about the history of the team and the preparation for the Rose Parade outing. There is a photo of Borax Bill driving the team down Broadway in New York City with bells on every animal. Most of the time, only the leaders wore bells. Another picture shows the team in San Francisco in 1917. This picture clearly shows the teamster on a horse. Another historic picture shows a working borax freight team with a mixture of horses and mules.

Links to "20 Mule Teams" History
Borax: The Twenty Mule Team. Published by U.S. Borax Inc.

From the Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures Ghosts Past, 20 Mule Team Days 1, 20 Mule Team Days 2, history, nice old photos and letters from those who remember.

"Long Guns Of The West.  Part 4. The The Winchester "Centennial Model" 1876  by Tom "Forty Rod" Taylor

Although the ’73 had successfully addressed most of the faults of the previous models, it still lacked one thing:  ammunition powerful enough to tackle larger game such as grizzly, buffalo, and moose.  Other rifles were available with much heavier-hitting cartridges, but none of them were repeaters.

Winchester turned again to its tried and true toggle link design and came up with the Model 1876 and promptly dubbed it “The Centennial Model”.

To avoid an overly long receiver (not to mention a ridiculously long lever throw) which would have been required by using the same rounds as the big single-shot rifles of the day, they developed a shorter “bottle-necked” .45 caliber cartridge, originally with a 75 grain charge of behind a 350 grain bullet.  Even so, this round was not as powerful as the single shots of the day…but it was ‘close enough’ for a first effort. 

With every effort being made to keep the size down, the rifle still measured over four feet long with the 28” barrel… a 26” barrel was also considered standard…and weighed over ten pounds fully loaded, a truly massive firearm.   Either octagonal or round barrels were offered, and as before, there were rifles, carbines and muskets in the lineup.

(There were three additional calibers eventually offered as well: .40-60, .45-60, and .50-95… the first two being straight-walled cases and the .50-95 having a ‘bottle necked’ case like the .45-75.  All of these rounds were designed as powerful as possible, yet short enough to work in the toggle link action.) 

The carbine deserves special attention for its unusual appearance.  The carbines had 22” round barrels and 18” forearms which were set back to make provision for a nose cap bayonet attachment, and they almost all sported a saddle ring on the left side.  This carbine in .45-75 was adopted as a standard long gun of Canada’s Northwest Mounted Police: The famed Mounties!

All 1876 models have the standard features of the ’73 models and can be mistaken for a ’73 at first glance…until you compare the size. 

Being “first of the heavy caliber repeaters” was a feather in Winchester’s cap to be sure, but the competition was awake now and only three years later the Whitney company introduced their Burgess patent repeater in .45-70 Springfield, a considerably more potent round.  Three years after that, Marlin got into the act with the Model 1881, also in .45-70, and the popularity of the ’76 dropped markedly.  Eventually only 63,871 were produced over 21 years.

I spent $747.00 for a new Chaparral / Charles Daly .45-60 with a octagonal barrel 26” barrel model, serial number 761xxx, in December, 2007.  It was ‘slicked up’ by Rowdy Yates without changing out any parts. Kelly Laster  (who does amazing work, by the way.) engraved my ‘signature bird’ on the right side plate when he visited Gunfight Behind the Jersey Lilly the following year.

Forty Rod

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.