It Was Worth the Stop – Borax Mine

August 1, 2007 at 10:09 am (Uncategorized)

One of the things the kids and I did while we were on vacation was to stop at the Borax Mine and Visitor Center in Boron, California.  This wasn’t something I had planned to do but we saw it as we were passing by and decided to stop.  I am so glad we did!  When I was a kid my Mom & Dad always took us to places like this.  We never passed a local museum or landmark without stopping and checking it out.  Much of my education came from stopping at places like this. It makes the world come alive when you get to see things from a hands on perspective and not just from books.  As an adult I appreciate even more all those unscheduled stops my parents made.  I realize now that they were on a schedule and need to get moving on.  But, I never guessed that when i was a kid! 

Here is my oldest next to a BIG piece of Borax at the entrance of the Visitors Center.

The kids checking out minerals under microscopes.

Borax in 3 different stages. (Mined, broken and crushed and ready to be processed.)

So what is Borax used for?
EVERYTHING!  I was amazed to learn that borax is in practically everything! 
Eyeglasses, swimming pool chemicals, Insulation for our homes, computer components, tile glazes, enamel cookware, detergent, ceramics, fertilizer, nail polish and my kids favorite…Playdoh! (Did you know that each of us use more than 40,000 pounds of minerals each year?)

Here is a picture of the mine. (Which is directly behind the Visitor Center. This picture is taken from the roof of the Visitor Center which they have set up as a spot to view the mine.)
This mine is 1 mile wide and 2 miles long.  It is 650 feet deep.  The Great Pyramids of Giza could fit inside it! This is the biggest mine in California and produces almost  half of the borates used in the world.

Here is a picture of my kiddos sitting inside one of the tires from the HUGE trucks they use in the mine. (Can you even imagine how BIG the trucks are!) I took this picture with the hopes you would be able to see the statue of the 20 Team wagon team that is right behind them.  It is hard to see, but the white box like things behind my oldest sons head are the carts they would load the borax into.  The 20 mules are to the right of the boxes.
This company has been mining borates for 125 years.  They started out using carts with mules and now they use HUGE trucks, rail cars and ships to get the borates from the mine to more than 80 Countries around the world.  The Visitor Center is really neat because not only do they teach about Borax and it’s uses, but it teaches about how they get this product distributed all over the world for the many items it is used in.

One thing the kids and I talked about when we were there was how amazing it is that God gave us so many amazing things right in the earth and the intelligence to use them in ways to improve our lives.  I always love it when the kids can see God’s hand at work all around us.

Another thing I appreciated about this place was that they acknowledge that the process of taking borax out of the earth damages the earth and they spend a lot of time and money protecting the air, land, water and animals that the mining effects. 

I am grateful to my parents who taught me that stopping at places like this is totally worth it!  This stop took about 1 hour of our time but my kids are still talking about it!  They learned so much about minerals, mining, the uses of Borax, how the desert is being restored after the mining, etc, etc.  Yes, it would have been easier to just drive on by and let them stretch their legs at the next McDonald’s Playland,  But, here they learned, they explored, they were amazed to find out about a mineral that is all around them and important to their daily lives. (That they didn’t even know existed before this stop!)  That’s what I call a good school day!  (And it happened while we were on vacation!  LOL)

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4 Comments

  1. redmom said,

    How Fun!!

  2. writmm said,

    perfect pit stop, leg stretcher and mind stretcher! Thanks for sharing!

  3. briarwren said,

    I guess you learn something everyday. I go through at least a box of the stuff a month (depending on how much laundry we generate) and I never realized where it came from. It never even entered my head to find out. Reading this led to a quick trip to Wikipedia to find out more. It was pretty interesting. It's nice to understand something I use every day a little better.

  4. Anonymous said,

    What a wonderful side trip! Thanks for teaching us so much about Borax, too. I love how they're being environmentally conscious.
    Dana, http://www.alexml.blogspot.com

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