Gauslin Family in Trona

The following information is from Joe Whitelaw:

“These photos are from two albums put together in 1918 by my mother, Elizabeth Gail Gauslin and her younger sister Mary Margaret (Peggy) Gauslin, the youngest of Emma and Anthony (Tony) Gauslin’s eight children. My mother who was born in 1900 and lived off and on in Trona from 1915 to 1920. Elizabeth went back east to school. Peggy who was born in 1905 and lived full-time in Trona from 1915 to 1920. She attended high school in Los Angeles, however, (Los Angeles High) beginning about 1919. It seems as the plant managers daughter she also became the Trona photographer’s favorite model. Peggy learned to fly a plane, became a pilot of a while and then went to work for the Los Angeles Times.”

Peggy modeled for two postcards with the liberty loan flag and the service flag.


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Emma, Lucie, Peggy, Elizabeth  — J. Whitelaw Collection

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Elizabeth Gail Gauslin 1917 — J. Whitelaw Collection

“My grandparents, Emma and Anthony J. (Tony) Gauslin came to Trona in 1914 and remained there until retirement in 1920. Tony worked for Manistec (Michigan) Ironworks as a construction manager and had built a plant similar to the Trona plant in France prior to World War One. Manistec therefor sent him to Trona to oversee construction of that plant. He left Manistec  Ironworks and became the first plant manager in Trona.”

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Gauslin’s house — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920


“From about 1915 until 1920 they lived in one of the 2 story houses as shown in the photos. I understand that the Town Manager lived in the other one. The only time I have been in Trona was in 1947 and both house were standing at that time. in 1920 my grandfather retired and moved to Los Angeles.”

“Tony died in 1922, four years before I was born, so I never met him. However my grandmother lived until 1944 and she, my mother and Peggy all had fond memories of Trona which they shared with us.”

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Gauslin’s house under construction — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Anthony J. Gauslin at Kern River  — J. Whitelaw Collection

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North Trona — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

Who can tell me about North Trona? Where was it? What is its history?

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North Trona — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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North Trona — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920


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North Trona  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Peggy hitching a ride — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

Part of the Mexican Central Railway.

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View from the depot — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-20

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The Trona tracks — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-20


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Kids in Trona — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Social gathering  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Social gathering, Great Falls — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Peggy Gauslin — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920


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Peggy Gauslin  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-20

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Cars on Lake — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920
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Car on Searles Lake — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Car on Searles Lake  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Magnolia Street — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

Before Searles Lake was commercially operated, the only housing in the valley consisted of a few miner’s shacks.  As operations progressed more workers were hired and the American Trona Company erected ten shacks in 1916.  They later built permanent houses on Magnolia Street. Primarily the workmen lived in several large barracks the Company had built. All Trona housing was  completely maintained by the Company.

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Horses — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-20

Housing shortages were common during much of Trona’s history and were solved in various ways buy the men and the families that came to live in Trona. My father, H.J. Stevens, spent his first years (1933-1934) in Trona living in “Tent City” and then, after getting married, lived in Ridgecrest, Inyokern and Borosolvay before they were eligible for a home in Trona

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Horseless — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Elizabeth Gauslin  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

Although I never saw a bobcat while I lived in Trona (1943-1962) I heard them many times and seen what may have been the remains of their kills while climbing in the mountains near Indian Joe’s.

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Early development — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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Trona Swimming Pool — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

To the best of my knowledge there have been four swimming pools in Searles Valley. The fourth and newest one is at the Trona Schools. The the one that I am most familiar with in Valley Wells five miles north of Trona. West End had one called “The Tank” which was a large rusty steel tank filled with fresh water. It’s use was restricted to West End employees and their families or invited guests. Borosolvay also had a freshwater swimming pool. It was made of concrete and was covered with a tin roof. It may have been the fresh water reservoir for the community. Borosolvay’s was the first that was closed in the late forties or early fifties. Does anyone else remember these?  I recently learned of another pool in Trona called Crawley pond. It was northwest of the plant in Trona and predated Valley Wells. The houses in the background are the Gauslin’s house and the executive quarters on Lakeview Street. This picture had me puzzled for quite some time.

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Mary Picford in Trona — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-20

The Gauslin girls took picture of Mary Picford  when she came to Trona to film a movie. Mary was a star during the silent film days. she owned all of her movies and planned on burning them when she died. They were not burned but you don’t see them on TV. But then again who watches silent movies?

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View from depot — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920


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Social gathering — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

The building to the right is Trona’s first post office. The post office was later moved to Austin Hall, first by the entrance to the theater and then was expanded to the corner next to the pool hall. Later it was moved to the first floor of the Masonic Hall Building where it still is today.

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Shopping in Trona  — J. Whitelaw Collection 1915-1920

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