History of the Desert Studies Center

The Mining Era

T&T crew and train

Travel along the Mojave Road diminished after the 1880's, with completion of the Santa Fe Railroad to the south. In 1905, Frances Marion "Borax" Smith, the self proclaimed "Borax King", began construction of the Tonopah and Tidewater RailroadOpens in new window , from the Santa Fe Railroad, 37 miles to the south, through Soda Springs, and hence to his borate claims in Death Valley, a hundred miles to the north, ultimately pushing as far as Goldfield, Nevada. With arrival of the railroad to Soda Springs, the rich salt deposits of Soda Dry Lake were now commercially exploitable, and two salt recovery operations were established at Soda Springs, operating between 1907-1912. Remnants of the railroad and salt works are readily visible today at Soda Springs. The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad was decommissioned in 1939, and Soda Springs once again became a quiet oasis at the end of the Mojave River.