Death Valley IV: Old West High Tech

DSC06760Don’t miss the Old West technology on display in the free open air museum at Furnace Creek.
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Some of these transport, process and power machines are old types that we can recognize by function.

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“Remodeled farm wagon used at Furnace Creek Ranch.”


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From the movies we’re all familiar with wagons, stagecoaches, buggies and buckboards. They were light, efficient and could be made and fixed by a blacksmith.
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Note the omnipresent water keg.


Other machine’s purposes I could guess.
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Concrete wheels. Road compactor?


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And then others…
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They thought big in the high tech 19th, but not all the giants worked out.
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Old Dinah was a giant experimental ore tractor from 1894 that was supposed to replace mules and horses without building a railroad through Death Valley.
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Its ore capacity was large but it was used only for a year. It proved to have maintenance and reliability problems as well as having sand and stability issues.

Eventually a rail line was put in to replace the mules and horses.
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It took a team of eighteen mules and two horses a week and a half to haul the 24-tons of ore the 165 miles to the rail line.
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The Iron Horse was the transport solution but more easily available ore sources closer to the rail lines spelled the end for large scale mining in the valley.
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Though quite large this stationary diesel engine probably produced more torque than horsepower.
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Flat-head four-banger.


Without these high tech Old West contraptions mining in the valley would have been impossible.

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