The first large borax mining operations in the US occurred in Death Valley but transporting the mineral out of the valley was hard and time consuming. In 1925 a huge underground deposit was discovered south of Death Valley in the flat lands on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. What started as an underground mining operation is now an open pit and the world's largest borax mine.
Borax is a very versatile mineral and is used in glass production and leather tanning; is added to cosmetics, soaps and cleaners; and is a fungicide and insecticide. We were surprised to discover that mining and processing borax causes little environmental damage (other than the big hole) and it’s almost completely non-toxic in all of its different applications.
The visitor center is fairly small and includes a short video; displays about mining, processing and the uses of boron; and a view, from a window or the roof of the building, of the pit and processing plant.
The visitor center is accessible. The roof top viewing area is accessed by a steep ramp, covered in large, loose gravel, and is not accessible.