Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Take on Death Valley

"Hottest, driest, lowest" are words that quickly arise when describing Death Valley. But for me, it is the middle one which is most shocking. LESS THAN TWO INCHES. That's the average annual rainfall in Death Valley. Water governs everything. To survive and prosper here requires a strategy that conforms to strict parameters set by nature.
Looking down at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America (282 ft. below sea level)

Artists Palette

Death Valley, seven miles north of Furnace Creek

Death Valley's modern history goes hand-in-glove with borax. This is the most profitable substance ever mined here (I'll post more on that later), but the era of profitable large-scale mining ended around 1915. Then the managers at United States Borax hit upon an idea. They convinced the National Park Service that Death Valley was a unique national treasure and should be preserved. In 1933 Death Valley was designated a National Monument. This resulted in a temporary closing of lands to prospecting. But by prior agreement, within four months Congress reopened Death Valley to prospecting and mining. Meanwhile, with abundant water, shade trees, and accomodations, Furnace Creek became the heart of a growing tourism industry within the new park. And who owned Furnace Creek? United States Borax, of course.

Where we stayed: Furnace Creek Ranch

Furnace Creek Inn

No comments: