Death Valley Artifact Goes on the Road (Sort of)

A fascinating relic creaks to life for the first time since the '30s.

Furnace Creek Resort

A TIMELESS PLACE ENCOUNTERS CHANGE: The word "timeless" is often trotted out to sell certain styles of clothing and fragrances and houses and anything else that the seller wants to convey as having staying power, but, really, there is no timeless like a Death Valley type of timeless. Deep within the national park, where the only sound is often just the wind and waves of sand ripple into the horizon, one truly connects with a sense of timelessness. It could be a hundred years in the past, or a thousand years in the future, and the observer still wouldn't be sure; such is the nature of the remote and stark national park. But sometimes, on occasion, something does happen at Death Valley. Oh, for sure, people are forever entering the park, even in the toastier months, to swim and ride horses and bike, but a ripple in time happened in the middle of September, and it occurred to a piece of historic machinery called "Old Dinah." Just about everyone has heard of the 20 Mule Teams that once reigned large in the region's booming borax industry, but fewer know about the steam-driven tractors that retired the teams and went to work on the borax-delivery front. Old Dinah was one such device, a "massive" machine per Furnace Creek Resort, which stands not too far from where the tractor once sat. We say "once sat" because...

OLD DINAH HAS A NEW HOME: The resort reports that "...for the first time since 1932, it is believed, Old Dinah and one of the famed 20 Mule Team wagon trains were ever-so-gently moved out of the ancient flood plain and into Zabriskie Park at Furnace Creek Resort." The resort is "closer to the iconic Borax Museum," so both the train and tractor are nearer to a spot that has a lot of pull in terms of their histories. And it is a reminder that Death Valley isn't just an amazing recreational spot, but one rife with the early story of borax mining and how that was all made possible in a very long ago day. Want to see the tractor and the museum and feel that timelessness that still reigns in one of our state's most still and silent a national parks? You can. A half day exploring the park's borax roots fills out a lot of the background of this hot and historic area.

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