Much like Egypt, which has been called “the gift of the Nile” so is Furnace Creek the “gift” of underground springs. Almost 2 million gallons per day emerges from a Pleistocene Ice Age aquifer that extends as far east as southern Nevada and Utah.
These springs form the basis for the Valley's large tourism infrastructure, which consumes 95% of the outflow. One of the rangers told me he is concerned that Las Vegas wishes to drill more wells “up aquifer” to serve its growing population, which would reduce the amount of water available to wildlife living in Death Valley.
Furnace Creek was the site of a large Indian village before Anglo occupation of the valley.
The ranch was established to provide food for the workmen and twenty mule teams of the borax mining operations, which eventually became US Borax. Mining operations at Furnace Creek ceased in 1927, and the ranch opened for tourists in 1932. US Borax continued to own the property until 1969. Furnace Creek Ranch has 224 guest units, three restaurants, a saloon, swimming pool, campgrounds, date palm plantation, a borax museum, a 3,040 foot airstrip, and an 18-hole golf course (the world’s lowest).
Coincidentally, just two months ago I stayed with the luge team at the location of the world’s highest golf couse (Sestriere, in the Italian alps). Maybe I should pick up golf again...
Thanks, Susan and Tools!