Chemical Plant History

Share information or ask questions about the history of Searles Valley and nearby locations.

Chemical Plant History

Postby BoraxBill » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:48 pm

A Company Town Changes Companies : Mining: The sale of Trona's major employer has brought anxiety--and hope--to the Mojave Desert town.
This is an interesting article from 1990 that brings up the bigger topic of what companies have owned and operated the chemical plants here in the valley over the years. It might be fun to see a list of all the owners and to share stories about some of the interesting developments that have taken place over the years.
"People want to believe the company will do the right thing," observes local historian and 34-year resident Osco (Doc) Cole, who is 78. "But an awful lot has gone on in this little town. You can get a shudder up your spine wondering about the future."

LINK: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-12-13/business/fi-8994_1_mojave-desert-town
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby texasranger » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:52 pm

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation
This is from some literature published by the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation. It tells a little about the beginnings of operations in Searles Valley.
Lured by the Gold Rush of ’49, John W. Searles and his brother Dennis sailed from New York to California in search of precious metals. Like most prospectors, they found plenty of hardship and very little gold. Unlike most other prospectors, they found treasure of another kind. While searching for gold near the Panamint Mountains in 1862, John Searles came across a crusty dry lakebed. Noticing crystals shimmering in the sunlight, he scooped up a handful and tucked them in his oar sack, unaware that he had discovered the worlds richest deposits of chemicals.

LINK: http://www.trona-ca.com/chemical-plant/
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby deathvalleyjake » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:34 am

Kerr-McGee was not good for the valley. They played dirty and they played mean. Then to add insult to injury they built the Taj Mahal over in Ridgecrest. They did everything they could to encourage their employees to live in RC and to kill Trona. I'm glad that they're long gone!
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby tronagirl » Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:32 pm

HIGHLIGHTS FROM SEARLES VALLEY TIMELINE
This timeline lists 15 important events about the chemical plant beginning in 1863. Plant names include: San Bernardino Borax Mining Company, Pacific Coast Borax Company, American Trona Corporation, American Potash & Chemical Corporation, Kerr-McGee Corporation, North American Chemical Company, IMC Chemicals Incorporated, and Searles Valley Minerals Incorporated.
LINK: http://www.svminerals.com/About%20Us1/At%20a%20Glance.aspx
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby BoraxBill » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:20 pm

Searles Valley Mineral, Inc.
Kerr McGee took over the plant in the 1970s and kept it until 1990. Since 1990 the plant has changed hands three times with the current owners being Sun Capital Partners of India.
With the roaring 1920s and 1930s came the buy out of the American Trona Company by American Potash & Chemical Corporation, and the return of Borax Smith with his newly formed West End Chemical Company. In 1956 West End would merge with Stauffer Chemical Company, and Kerr-McGee would purchase American Potash & Chemical Corporation in 1967.

LINK: http://deathvalleyjim.com/2012/08/13/trona-ca/
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby CrustyOldFart » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:36 am

Industry Reclaims Searles Lake
J. A. G., San Bernardino County Sun, 27 February 1929
This site seems to have some interesting material pertinent to the topic at hand.
I have never seen an authoritative statement of just how many millions of dollars been poured into the region. It must be a staggering sum. But at last the wealth that has been invested in one of the big potash ab borax works of the world is paying returns. This industry has created a town of 1000 people at Trona. The entire works and the town itself are the product of the American Potash & Chemical Corporation.

MORE INFO: http://tronahistory.com/trona-in-1920/industry-reclaims-searles-lake/
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby mrfish » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:58 am

Searles Valley Minerals fighting to protect business, waterfowl
Here's an interesting article about an interesting aspect of the chemical operation in Searles Valley.
From the air, the 52-square-mile Searles Lake looks like a wonderful place for waterfowl to rest and relax, but doing so can be hazardous to their health. Any bird spending any length of time on Searles Lake soon becomes “salted” and will perish if not rescued. The brine removes the natural waterproofing from their feathers, they become dehydrated and the extra weight from the salt crystals makes it difficult to get into the air.

LINK: http://theguzzler.blogspot.com/2007/12/searles-valley-minerals-fighting-to.html
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Re: Stupid Birds

Postby CrustyOldFart » Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:51 am

mrfish: Let Darwin's Law of Survival of the Fittest apply here. Any bird dumb enough to land in Searles Lake deserves to die. It's better for the species as a whole. Allow the dumb ones to die as a result of their dumb mistake and the species as a whole benefits as a result. It's evolution in action!
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Re: Stupid Birds

Postby panamint_patty » Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:33 am

Old Crusty One: Your approach could lead to the extinction of entire species of our feathered friends! It's well known that birds aren't terribly intelligent. Hence the term "bird brain" which is often used in reference to unintelligent humans. That point being made, I agree that the birds that land in Searles (mostly dry) Lake should be allowed to perish or fly away, whatever their natural fate might happen to be.
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Re: Chemical Plant History

Postby BallaratBob » Wed May 09, 2018 4:27 pm

The Potash Wars – Wyatt Earp
This is a pretty interesting story from January 26, 1929. It's a short article and this sets the scene:
The party of 44 in number, arrived at Searles Lake in seven touring cars and established a camp at the abandoned town of “Slate Range City” about eight miles southeast of the company’s headquarters. On the morning following their arrival we saw some of the surveyors across the lake and our foreman road over and ordered them off the property but they paid no attention to his protest an proceeded to do a very thorough job or surveying and staking.

http://tronahistory.com/trona-in-1915/the-potash-wars-wyatt-earp/
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