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Taken in the salt marsh a mile or so west of Mustard Canyon in Death Valley National Park on February 19th, 2013

Here’s a little history I recently learned: borax was heavily mined (err, shoveled, as the case may be) in Death Valley around 130 years ago. Chinese immigrants were paid to push this slop into neat rows which could then easily be shoveled into wagons for processing. Once the borax was extracted it was hauled by 20-mule teams from the heart of Death Valley to Mojave. The 20-mule teams became the symbol for borax nationwide, an image that persists to present day. And if you walk out into the Death Valley salt marsh far enough you can still find remnants of those old “cornrows,” as they were called, that the Chinese shoveled into place.

View more beautiful Death Valley photos.

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