09 June 2009

20-Mule Teams of Death Valley

Ol' Myrt here is preparing for a trip later this month across the deserts of California, as she travels from Salt Lake City across Death Valley to present 5 classes at the upcoming South California Genealogical Society's Genealogy Jamboree. The last time I traversed that stretch of desert, we lost a water pump on an 18-month old Buick Century. In the 19th century railroads and wagons travered the wild terrain.

"When Stiles got his first look at the wagons that would challenge Death Valley, he couldn’t believe his eyes. They were the biggest wagons he’d ever seen. The wagons were 16 feet long, six feet deep, four feet wide and made of solid oak. Weighing 7,800 pounds each, they rolled on rear wheels seven feet tall at the rear, five feet tall in the front and had tires made of one inch thick iron.

To change one would require the muscle of six men. When hitched together, each wagon loaded with ten tons of ore plus a 1,200-gallon water tank, the total weight of the mule train was 73,200 pounds, 36-1/2 tons. During the six years of hauling borax from the refining operations to Mojave, not one wagon ever broke down due to construction."

SOURCE: "The 20-Mule Teams of Death Valley" by John Shriver. History Magazine. Apr/May 2009, pages 23-24.

I can only hope my Death Valley travels will go as smoothly. Instead of a wagon, Ol' Myrt here opts to use her new-fangled GMC Envoy equipped with the all-to-necessary air conditioning most common in the 21st century. And believe me I've seen that the vehicle has just had a tune-up. Mechanics tell me the water pump looks fine.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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