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Borax mining, 20 Mule Team history featured in Bakersfield

East Kern history part of special presentation from geologist Tim Elam at Buena Vista Museum on Saturday
Posted at 7:05 PM, May 17, 2024

BORON, Calif. (KERO) — Geologist Tim Elam to deliver special presentation about Borax mining and 20 Mule Team at Buena Vista Museum.

  • The presentation is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. More information is on the museum's website.
  • The Rio Tinto Borax Mine is the largest in the world and produces 1/3 of Borax in the world, geologist Tim Elam says.
  • For more information about upcoming events at Buena Vista Museum, visit their website.


Did you know that the historic 20-mule team did not really have 20 mules?

There were 18 mules and 2 horses.

I'm Steve Virgen, your neighborhood reporter at the Buena Vista Museum... where there'll be a special presentation about Borax mining and the 20 Mule Team on Saturday.

It's all part of a presentation by Tim Elam... who has a myriad of interesting facts.

"The stories are fascinating. I mean, the characters involved? The two main players, actually the first three main players in the industry, all went bankrupt."

Tim Elam hasn't delivered a presentation about Borax mining and the 20 mule team at the Buena Vista Museum since 2015, so he's excited. The former longtime Buena Vista Museum board member now lives in the Bay Area, but called Bakersfield home for 25 years.

He showed me part of his presentation.

"I've got a mineral here called Kernite, named for Kern County. And, it's one of the main ores of Borate, or Borax, that comes out of the pit over there in Boron," Elam said.

Elam will also talk about the advertising history of Borax, as well as the 20 mule team in the Rose Parade and other events.

The presentation begins at 1:30 p.m. and the usual entry fee into the museum applies.

"The thing I like about his presentations is that they are not so overwhelming that a lay person can't understand it. Anybody can really understand it," said Koral Hancharick, Buena Vista Museum executive director.

Elam touches on the current state of the Rio Tinto Borax mine, which is in Boron. He says it's the largest borax mine in the world.

"It's still a huge deposit that's going to be producing Borax, Borate, Boron for a long time," Elam said.

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