DEATH VALLEY


| July/August 1961

  • Tractor
    (A) This early photo was taken during the time when the great Best tractor experiment was underway. It is now in the Pacific Coast Borax Company museum at Furnace Creek Ranch, California.
    Valley
  • Hauling engine
    (B) Remains of Daniel Best hauling engine at the entrance of Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, Calif. Front wheel is 60' high with 14' face. Driving wheels are 86' high with 27' face. The machine stands approximately 15 feet high and
    Valley
  • Old engine
    (C) Engine isn't quite horizontal on frame of Best machine. Someone stripped the crank, connecting rods, and flywheel off the old engine. Measurements were hard to take, but bore seems to be about 8 inches, with 16 inch stroke.
    Valley
  • Cross heads and guides
    (D) Cross heads and guides are of generous proportions with ample, large rods and pins. Engine has piston valves, but dimensions could not be ascertained. There are cylinder relief valves with what remains of a linkage connecting to operator's compartment
    Valley
  • Differential gear
    (E) Compensating or differential gear. None of the moving parts show much wear, indicating that Old Dinah didn't put in too many hours of work. On the flat side of the bevel gear you can read the following words painted there almost 70 years ago by some u
    Valley
  • Top of boiler
    (H) Top of boiler. Whistle lead pipe in center. At left and right are two feed water heaters with elbows leading into boiler. Shell is 48' in diameter by 74' high. It was virtually impossible to count the 2' flues through stoke holes, but a
    Valley
  • Massive Borax wagon
    (F) Massive Borax wagon is one of two that old Dinah pulled across the desert. From size they appear to be 10 to 15 tons capacity. Wide wheel faces were protection against sinking in soft sand.
    Valley
  • Driving wheel
    (G) Close-up view of driving wheel. Note retainer ring that holds spokes into hub. Steel parts are in splendid state of preservation despite years of exposure. Serial number 205 was stamped on end of axle. No other serial could be found.
    Valley

  • Tractor
  • Hauling engine
  • Old engine
  • Cross heads and guides
  • Differential gear
  • Top of boiler
  • Massive Borax wagon
  • Driving wheel

12020 S. Rives Avenue, Downey, California

On a recent trip to Death Valley, California I took the series of pictures appearing on these pages.

Believing you may want to publish these photos, I have written captions for them. The information on the captions I gathered at the little museum in Furnace Creek Ranch and by the use of my steel rule tape. This is an interesting relic, and it is a shame that it has been picked apart.

The following story accompanies the picture:



'Old Dinah was F. M. 'Borax' Smith's experiment in transporting ore from the mines at Borate to the railroad at Daggett in 1894. Dinah was a traction engine. She burned coal 3 tons per day. Her speed was 3 miles per hr. on level ground, not including time out for getting stuck in the sand. On steep grades she slipped backwards faster than she could move forward. It took 4 men to keep Dinah in operation; an engineer, a fireman, a brakeman, and a mechanic who worked all night every night to put her in shape for the next day's run. After a year of struggle Dinah was abandoned, and the 20 Mule Teams, which had continued to haul alongside of her, took over the entire job again.'