Category Archives: Searles Valley

Posts about things in the Searles Valley

Old Trona Photos

The photos below were sent to me by Jeannette (Kolstad) Kaufman. She was born in Trona in 1924. I really appreciate the effort she made to get them scanned and then sending them to me. There is another picture of this wreck at

Trona-R. Kolstad 1 - Edited (1)

Trona-R. Kolstad 2 - Edited (1)

Trona on the Web © Copyright 1997-2016

Road to Death Valley Reopens Jan 31, 2014

By Mike Bodine

An intense storm hit the high desert area in July 2013, wreaking havoc in Ridgecrest and surrounding areas. The event, called a micro-burst, lasted only a few minutes, but the damage is still being repaired. The rains and subsequent flash-flooding destroyed portions of the Trona-Wildrose Highway that leads from Trona to Panamint Valley in Death Valley National Park. Portions of the Panamint Valley Road have been closed due to the flooding as well. Aside from being a nuisance for travelers, the road closure has put a damper on local tourism.

Bob Brown, supervisor for Inyo County’s road department, said Wednesday that crews have been working tirelessly since the Thanksgiving weekend to make the repairs. He said an emergency opening of one lane of the road should be made by the end of the working day on Friday, “If everything goes OK.” 

Read more:

Great Falls Canyon

Mike @ Great Falls Basin

Great Falls is one of many magical places in Searles Valley. I wish I had visited it more often but unlike Indian Joes it was too far to walk to and the road was so sandy getting stuck in the sand was almost certain. And being able to find drinkable water there was much more uncertain.

You can lean more about this wonderful location by clicking on this link:

I recently aquired some vintage pictures of the falls area that you cab see here: GREAT FALLS

Blue Benches

these blue benches killed me

A recent visitor to Trona asked about the blue benches. Margaret Brush provided me with an answer:

Well, I seem to have lost her email but basically she says that the benches are all-weather benches that run along a bike path. They were provide by Trona Care to replace the previous wooden ones. The bike path was created by the Sidewinder Motorcycle Club as a public service project, probably around 1967.

Valley Wells

Where does the water for Valley Wells come from? Are there really wells?

John Fox, the son of Larry Fox, sent me a message today but the email address he used was invalid. Here is my reply to his letter.


Great question. I appreciate it. It gives me something to write about.

Valley Wells was named for the wells that make it possible to have the large reservoir of water known as Valley Wells that was used as a swimming pool for many years.   If you have ever been to Valley Wells you may have noticed the well towers all around it. You can see the top of one towering above the trees in the picture above. The wells were drilled hoping to find fresh water but it was discovered that the water from the wells was salty.

Still, the water was very useful. It is used for processes and cleaning in the chemical plant. It is used to water the tamarisk trees around the pool. At one time it was used throughout Trona to water trees and in all the toilets for flushing.

I remember a new school teacher telling his class about how they were having a plumbing problem in the house but he discovered that the tap outside was still working so that is where he got the water for coffee that morning. He learned about Trona salt water the hard way.

The well towers are rather interesting. They look like oil drilling rigs. I’m guessing they served the same purpose. The difference is that the Valley Wells towers are enclosed. My guess is that instead of tearing the rigs down they enclosed them and turned them into pump houses.


Did you ever live in Trona. If so do you remember where you lived and what your father did there?

Do you know the location of the Hog Ranch in Ridgecrest?

I hope you will be to share some of your photos of Trona that you mentioned with us. I’m looking forward to hearing from you again.