Article and photography by Natasha Petrosova
After visiting Ballarat, we drove 30 miles to Trona. Trona is a mysterious place located at the northwest corner of San Bernardino County in Searles Valley. Trona is home to the Trona Pinnacles National Monument, Searles Valley Minerals and The Gem-O-Rama Mineral Show. You know that you are approaching Trona when you feel this disgusting rotten egg smell. Don't worry, thought, it's just a smell of chemical plants and from what i was able to tell the smell does not stick to your clothing. When you first visit Trona you may likely feel depressed, disgust and overwhelmed by feelings of pity. Trona is in a middle of nowhere , left in economic woes. Trona is not a ghost town but almost every second building here is abandoned. Some seem to be just burnt down by a fire. Despite that Trona has a very rich and interesting history. I am personally impressed that this town continues to survive, and that the people who live here have a true sense of community that is missing from much of modern day America. Trona is a town where people would want to know where you are going , so they know where to start looking in a case you would not make it back.
Town of Trona was established in 1913. The town is named after a mineral trona abundant at the lake. Trona stands near Searles dried up lake. The mining in Searles lake begun in 1874. John W. Searles and his brother Dennis first discovered dried up lake in 1862 while they were searching for gold in the Panamint Mountains. John did not think much of his find but he took a sample of crystal encrusted crust and stuck it in his ore sack. Many years went by when John met Francis Boarx Smith and learned that Smith was recovering borax from almost identical crystal as the one he found at Searles Lake nearly 10 years ago. John Searles hurried back to the dry lake and staked claims to 640 acres and formed San Bernandino Borax Mining Company. In his first year of operation, the company produced 1 million pounds of borax.
The first abandoned house in Trona that we entered
abandoned house interior: living room with a fire place was a nice touch
this house seems just burnt down
inside a purple house
Another abandoned house that seems to just burnt in fire
yellow house interior
Searles Valley Minerals
this building was for lease or sale for a few years now. Any takers?
Abandoned bar , interior
More abandoned trona houses
abandoned brick house, not sure what it was but it does not have a wall in a back
Trona's abandoned gas station