Sunday, March 22, 2015
Answer Me This! jingle says, you can ask Helen, Olly and Martin any question and they will -- or attempt to in the funniest way -- answer it. Sometimes the answers seem researched and sometimes it seems like there's a lot of guessing going on, depending on what category the question falls into. Of course, funny is the point here as much as answers, and that's always delivered. This one is definitely rated R for language and subject matter, so adult roadtrips only (or when the kids inevitably fall asleep).
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Every once in awhile, it's fun to stand in a huge open space and contemplate how the hell people did shit before the internal combustion engine.
Luckily sodium tetraborate is kinda just laying around on the ground out here, but still, there was mining and packing and hauling to be done with little or no motorization. And all in heat most of the country never experiences. Heat that has death associated with it.
The teams (actually mixed mules and horses) hauled 20 million pounds of borax ore in 16-foot wagons made of solid oak, weighing almost 8,000 pounds empty. The wagon trains consisted of three wagons, two with borax and one with water. They would pick up supplies along the way, left for them by an "empty" wagon train coming back the other way. Each wagon train was 180 feet long and managed to get about 17 miles every day. Basically, sheer will got borax out of that desert.
The mule teams were only hauling borax out of Death Valley for about six years, from 1883-89, until the railroad could be built to carry the powder. But the image was so powerful that the Pacific Coast Borax Company put mules on the box, where they still haul borax today -- for Dial.