Thursday, November 16, 2006

20 Mule Team unloading at railroad in Daggett, California

From: "James Lingren"

I'm trying to date a photograph and need to know what year the Atlantic and Pacific RR (or it may have been ATSF) double tracked through Daggett CA. "No. 46. '20 Mule Team unloading at railroad in Daggett, Cal., after its long trip across the desert.' "

I believe the telegraph pole was used in a lynching.

Obviously the photograph is faked and or staged. The ore coming from Death Valley would have required a gondola car.

—James Lingren


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


I'm not so sure the photo is faked or staged later. First it was common for railroads to ship fine gran material in boxcars. I remember boxcars being used in sand service in the late 1960s, along with covered hoppers. Second, much of the borax material would blow out of an open gondola at train speeds. Third, it looks to be an older Santa Fe boxcar, suggesting the photo is around the turn of the century (19th to 20th).


11/19/2006 8:02 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Neville MADDEN"

They may have packed the ore in jute (burlap)bags for ease of handling. Looking at the mine photos there seems to be about a 2'6" wooden rail track coming from the mouth of the adit. This may have been for the ore and the mullock dumped down the chute in the centre.

Fascinating set of photos. Very much appreciated.

—Neville, Brisbane, Australia

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/20/2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Charles W. Jenner"

Doubtful if any "Twenty Mule Teams" went to Daggett. The route of the 20 Mule Teams has been identified and ended the trip from Death Valley at Mojave on the S.P. Daggett would have been a much longer haul to the Santa Fe. There were Borax diggin's in the desert around Daggett, and surely many horse or mule drawn wagons brought borax material to the railroad there, but not the Twenty Mule Teams.

—C. Jenner.
[From Adrian:] Somehow, it rings a bell with me that I'd previously heard of Daggett mentioned in connection with 20-mule teams.

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/20/2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


As a reformed Midwesterner I would like to add that prior to covered hoppers box cars were the mainstay for loose material including food grains. During harvest time you would see long lines of box cars at grain mills.

The cars were lined with a tough paper material stapled to the interior wood sides and floor for sanitary reasons. The box car door was open and a sort of half door lined with the same paper was nailed on the inside of the car where the weight of the lading act to hold it upright. Then the grain was loaded. In the early days it was shoveled in, later it was blown through a hose. Masked men inside the car made certain that the car was filled towards the ends first allowing more grain to fill toward the center. When the car was full the outer box car door was closed and sealed and the next car was moved up to be loaded.

This was dangerous work as the fine grain dust that floated in the air was actually explosive.

—Dick Izen

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/20/2006 9:26 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Paul Veltman
Subject: Borax and Daggett

Well, I can't tell you when the A&P double tracked the desert - but . . .

The 20 Mule Team never unloaded at Daggett. It appears to be a 20 Mule Team in the picture (OK, 18 mules and 2 horses to be exact), but apparently has dropped it's water wagon. The wagons definitely look like the 36 tonners.

I believe the Borax mining started about 1880 and the first 8 and 10 mule teams coming from Death Valley went to Daggett. The 20 Mule Teams only went to Mojave and unloaded at the SP there. The dates there were roughly 1883 to 1888.

And how did you come to the conclusion that: "I believe the telegraph pole was used in a lynching."?

... most photos of the era, including a lot of my family photos were "faked" or "staged" as you refer to them. I prefer to refer to them as "posed." It looks to me like the camera is pointed North with the Tehachapis in the background.

If you ever get down that way, stop in at the Borax Museum near Boron. It's very interesting. The weather is nice this time of year in the Funerals and Furnace Creek.

Side note: "Borax Smith," who owned that whole shootin match, also owned the Key System electric lines in the Bay Area.

Another good reference is Myrick's Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California. Mighty good reading.

—Paul Veltman

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/22/2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Charles W. Jenner"
Subject: 20 Mule Team

The Time Honored route of the Twenty Mule Team Borax wagons was from Death Valley to Mojave, the nearest railhead on the Espee [Southern Pacific Railroad, "SP"] (approx 1893-1898).

The Borax Museum at Furnace Creek, Death Valley, tells us that ....When borax was discovered in the Calico Mountains in the early 1890's, Twenty Mule Teams hauled the ore from Borate to the railroad (ATSF) at Daggett............. An attempt was made to use a traction engine, "Old Dinah," in place of the twenty mule teams, but that failed. The construction of the Borate and Daggett Railroad in 1895 brought an end to the mule teams.

Long after they ceased to make the tortuous route from Death Valley to Mojave, the teams continued to make many promotional and ceremonial appearances on behalf of the Borax Company. For instance, the 1917 Rose Parade in Pasadena, the 1937 dedication of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and the January 1999 Tournament of Roses Parade.

We may still see them again sometime in the future????

—Charlie Jenner, Los Alamitos

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/22/2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From "Charles W. Jenner"
Subject: Daggett

Regarding "lynching" in Daggett. I found one source that claimed that the Mule Teams from Death Valley terminated at Daggett on the ATSF until one of their "swampers" was lynched there (from the telephone pole?). This source claims that the Mule Teams from Death Valley thereafter terminated at Mojave on the S.P.

The mines at Borate were only 11 miles from Daggett, so mule teams from Borate probably did not haul water cars, assuming there may have been a spring for watering somewhere along the way. The Borate and Daggett Railroad ended the mule trains.
There is still a neat "Ghost Town" at Calico North of Daggett - a tourist destination well worth driving a few miles off the highway to see.

Some of the "history" of the area is pretty hazy, like the claim that Southern Pacific built a line from Mojave to Daggett. Hmmm.

—Charlie Jenner, Los Alamitos

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/23/2006 7:58 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "stumpie1"

Well, I've never read about a lynching in Daggett. Not to say it didn't happen, it probably did. The teamsters on these Borax runs were a pretty rough bunch.

According to the sources I've read, the 20 mule teams came out of Death Valley and Mojave was the closest rail line until the early 1890s when track was actually laid into the valley. The SP's Jawbone line to Searles comes immediately to mind. Calico is nowhere near Death Valley. Smaller teams came from Calico to Daggett because it's only 10 miles or so distance, not the 150+ miles and several dry camps that the big 20 mule team rigs traversed.

Yes, after the Silver deposits ran out, there was some Borax mining in the Calico area, but I don't think it was significant compared to what was hauled out of Death Valley. In fact, I think that one mining camp that no longer exists was named Borate. Soon after the Calico deposits were found, better deposits were found near Boron, closer to Mojave. That spelled the end of Calico until Walter Knott bought it for an amusement park. Now I think it's part of the California State Parks. Can someone correct me on this?

There are mining camp town sites all over that area. Of course, they don't exist any more. Lumber was a rare and expensive commodity in the desert, so when one town's mineral deposits played out, the whole town was torn down and moved to the next promising deposit. Aurora Nevada, just East of Bodie California is a good example.

Now on Charlie's point 2, yes the SP built a line from Mojave to Needles. According to one book I read, Huntington wanted to make sure that the SP had rail that would block the A&Ps attempts to lay rail to Los Angeles. He wanted only one railroad in California, and that was the SP. He built the rail line from Mojave to Needles. The A&P, with backing from the Santa Fe, threatened to lay a parallel line from Needles to San Bernardino, making the SP line useless. Subsequent negotiations led to the sale of the line to the A&P (Santa Fe).


[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/24/2006 3:19 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Winter"

The Southern Pacific actually built the line all the way from Mojave to Needles, in an attempt to block the A&P line across New Mexico and Arizona from entering California. The line from Mojave to Needles was later traded to the Santa Fe (part owner of, and later full owner of, the A&P) for the line from Nogales to Guaymas, which had been built by the Santa Fe and later formed part of the SPdeM..

—Don Winter, Tehachapi, CA

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/24/2006 3:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Charles W. Jenner"

So, S.P. built that line through Daggett!!! Learn something new everyday.

There was enough borate around in the Calico Hills that they built a railroad - Borate and Daggett Railroad - to haul it out in place of the 20 Mule Teams - The claim is that they used the big wagons and 20 Mules (or 18 + 2 draft horses) in that area until they built the railroad. Check on Borate and Daggett R.R.. It was supposedly the first of the "borax railroads." It predated the Tonopah and Tidewater which ran north from Ludlow on the same line and eventually had a connection into Death Valley (Death Valley Railroad narrow gauge).

Yes – the government (I think San Bernardino County) robbed Walter Knott of his Calico property to make a park – hence he became a very, very Conservative Republican. I once met with him during the Goldwater campaign.

—Charlie Jenner, Orange County

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

11/25/2006 9:27 AM  

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