Our 33 Day, 6731 Mile Road Trip–part 9

>> Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As I mentioned at the end of part 8 we stopped for the night on May 10th, the 19th day of our trip,  at a county campground in Lone Pine, California.  Portagee Joe Campground is just outside the city of Lone Pine in Inyo County and lies to the east of Mt. Whitney.  Although Mt. Whitney is taller than Mt. Shasta that we posted a picture of in part 7 it did not appear that way since there was no snow visible. 

I had a few questions about this campground that I did not get answers to until I returned home and did some research on the internet.  There was a sign at the campground stating that the property was leased to Inyo County by the City of Los Angeles.  How was that? 

There was a small stream that flowed through the campground and I wondered where the water came from since this was desert.  I discovered that it seemed to originate under a “concrete river.”  What was that ?  I’ll explain a bit of what I discovered after I post a photo of the campground and our camping spot.


What I discovered rather gave me the answer to both questions.  The City of Los Angeles acquired the property when the first of two aqueducts were built (the first one 1908-1913 and the second 1965-1970) to bring water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles.  This created about as many problems as it solved and can be some interesting reading if one has an interest.  Anyway, the “concrete river” right up behind the campground is one of the aqueducts.


This picture was taken looking right up from the campground.  Mt. Whitney is in this chain of mountains.  The aqueduct is right over the near rise, close to the power poles.

On day 20 of our trip we continued on South.  Having looked at a free magazine that I picked up (Scenic 395  The Official Guide) I found an interesting article on the borax mine at Boron, California which was only about 6 miles off of our route.  We drove over to Boron and first stopped at the 20 Mule Team Museum which contains a lot of interesting displays and information on the mining of borax, beginning with the mining that began in Death Valley. 

We didn’t take photos in the museum but I snapped this shot of the sign out in front of the building.  After our visit here we headed out of town about 3 miles to the borax mine.


You may or may not be able to read what was printed on the sign outside the visitor center but it states that this site is one of the biggest and richest deposits of borax on the planet and the mine supplies nearly one half of the world’s need for borax.  First begun in the 1920’s as an underground mine it was converted to an open pit mine in 1957.


This view is from the visitor center of the mine pit.  Barely discernible in this photo in one of the large mine trucks hauling ore up and out of the pit.


This shot was a zoomed in view of the truck and it still is hard to see, yet it is a huge truck.  The capacity of the truck is 255 tons, the truck bed is 46 feet long and 25 feet wide.  The tires are 11 feet tall (and cost $40,000.00 each!)  It has  a 2500 horsepower diesel engine that drives an alternator that powers 2 rear electric wheel motors.  Maximum speed is about 30 miles per hour but when hauling ore it moves only 3 to 5 m.p.h.

After leaving the mine we drove on south another 50 or 60 miles and spent a couple of nights and a day with a friend we have known for over 50 years.  In our next installment we’ll take you with us as we get back “on the road.”


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