Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mining History: Desert Fever

Kern County:

SALTDALE (KOEHN DRY LAKE)

In between Mojave and Willow Springs in southern Kern County is a cave where desert Indians reportedly stored salt from the Koehn Dry Lake area. Koehn Dry Lake is located at the base of the El Paso Mountains near Last Chance Canyon. Modern mining of salt on Koehn Dry Lake began when the Diamond Salt Company performed development work there in 1911 and 1912. However, significant production didn't begin until 1914 when the Consolidated Salt Company began its operation.

From 1919 to 1927, the Fremont Salt Company also produced salt by the solar evaporation of surface brine. Both companies were bought in 1928 by the Long Beach Salt Company, who continues to mine salt on Koehn Dry Lake today. In these early days the salt plant would shut down for years if rainfall and storm runoff did not supply enough water to make brine. Today, salt on Koehn Dry Lake is “harvested.” The brine is pumped from wells and channeled by ditches and flumes to ponds where it spreads out and evaporates. In 4 months, about 6 inches of salt has formed.

Years ago the salt was cut in foot-square “cakes” and hand loaded into dump cars. Now the salt is scraped into a pile and loaded mechanically. A mill is located at Saltdale, and Plymouth locomotives haul the dump cars of salt to be processed. The salt produced here is used in cattle feed, for icing refrigerator cars, and in water softening devices.18



ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - comments

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