Antiques & The Arts
New Borax Wagons Meet Their Ancestors | Engels Coach Shop

New Borax Wagons Meet Their Ancestors | Engels Coach Shop

Well a couple of weeks ago we had the
opportunity to go to Death Valley with the new borax wagons and the 20 Mule
Team hitch. This was to commemorate and celebrate a organization called the
Death Valley 49ers that was formed in 1949 who commemorates the naming of
Death Valley of 1849 when a wagon train was stuck and then and the valley
received its name, Death Valley. This is also the 25th anniversary of
Death Valley becoming a national park. In 1933 Death Valley was declared a
national monument, but in 1994 Death Valley became a National Park,
so for these two events the new borax wagons were invited down and were put
into a parade on two separate days. This was Friday, Saturday of November 8th and
9th, so I have put together a little video of this parade. Now this parade
occurred over two different days so there’s a little bit of video that I
have combined of the two days to make one parade. We stopped different times
and we traded passengers on and off so if you watch closely you’ll notice that
the configuration and number of passengers varies in these wagons, but
that was just due to the style of the parade and the number of people that
desire to ride on these wagons. So when the Death Valley Conservancy, Preston
Chiaro and Henry Golas, received an invitation, it became a significant event
for Bobby Tanner and myself. Bobby, that owns the mules, and myself, who built the
wagons, because this was the first parade and the first time that these brand-new
wagons were actually going to be in the homeland of their
ancestry and it became a likelihood that we could get them real close to the old
original wagons that are still at the Harmony mine in Death Valley,
just north of Furnace Creek, Now these old original wagons were the wagons that
I took all the measurements off of and made copies in the new wagons to
completely duplicate these new wagons to match the old wagons. But these wagons, even though they had been in the 2017 Rose Parade, and they’ve been in
Washington DC for the 2017 Fourth of July, and a couple of Bishop Mule days
parades, these wagons had never been in the ancestral homeland of their
ancestors, Death Valley itself, so this was a pretty premiere opportunity and a
significant first time that these brand-new wagons have been in Death
Valley themselves. So I’m going to take you through a little tour of Death
Valley, the Xanterra operation called the Oasis at Death Valley, that runs the
lodging and concessions there. They do a marvelous job, and I’ve also included
some links of the National Park Service website of Death Valley. The
Death Valley 49ers also have their webpage, deathvalley49ers.org, the dvconservancy.org have their web page, so be sure to look those up, and
I’ve included those in the links below. And also there’s a really good history
about Death Valley as a park and the evolution over time on Wikipedia which
you can look up, so thanks for coming along as we head to Death Valley and
take these new borax wagons to their homeland.
Diane and I left Montana on November 6th and on the evening of November 7th we
got down to the Amargosa Valley and at the junction that heads us into Death
Valley itself. And after finding our rooms and accommodations
provided by Xanterra so graciously to the whole 20 Mule Team crew, we woke up
the next morning to bright blue skies and the sun just touching the hilltops
west of Death Valley. At the furnace Creek Resort there are accommodations
for horses and mules where they give custom rides, and if you’re inclined to
hit the golf course it’s a full 18-hole course as I understand, and these guys
are out bright and early in the morning getting things going, a really hard work
crew. Well for Diane and I this is quite a change, because in Montana
we’ve already had snow and here the flowers are still blooming, so just to
come down to the desert in this little oasis that is so appropriately named, to
find the flowers the palm trees the date trees, the swimming pools are still open
and there’s little putting courses and tennis courts, it’s just a new experience
for us, it’s just a really nice location to come to. It really is a paradise in the
middle of the desert for the winter. Now at Furnace Creek behind sign-in office
there’s a little building this called a Museum. Behind the museum is this little
area with some old artifacts of the years gone by. These are some of the old
wagons that we also measured. This was the water wagon, and this is one of the old
running gears that were left that contributed to the measurements and
design of the new wagons. A lot of history is sitting here in this little gravel
lot behind the museum. So if you haven’t been to Furnace Creek
for awhile, for the last few years, you’re going to notice a few changes. We
did when we showed. The whole front of the building is different, it has been re-landscaped, the buildings have changed, it has just been updated tremendously and
it’s a real pleasure and delight to walk through. This is the back of the sign-in
office with the waterfall. Just pleasant and serene. And across this little
driveway, where you walk into the lodging in the back, is a new general store, a new
cafe and a really nice saloon where you can stop at the local watering hole. Now
I know this might sound like a tourist guide sales pitch, but if you get a chance
stop in. Well, the new wagons, they’ve been on display all week and they’re
about a mile down the road where we’re gonna hitch up, but the mules are at the
stable. We’re gonna load them up and take them up to the wagons so we can start to
hitch him up for the parade. All these mules have a certain place in
the hitch and so when they’re loaded up into the trailer they’re put in
systematically, on purpose, so when they are unloaded they’ll know where they go
in the hitch and which harness fits who. So this isn’t all haphazard. Lee and Jen
and Nick know what they’re doing, under the supervision of Bobby who owns the
mules. Also, Luke’s gonna pitch in. He’s one who helps give rides through the
resort through the wintertime and he’s going to be up front to help maintain
this hitch as it heads through the parade. Like I said, these wagons have been here
in Death Valley all week, now’s the time to hook them up. There’s lots of
bystanders, lots onlookers, lots of cameras, lots of cell phones. There’s a
number of reporters here looking for a story. Now 20 animals is a lot of mules and a
couple horses to harness and get hitched, but it all goes down systematically, kind
of like a routine, and then we wait. And once parade time is actually at hand
there’s a number of people that are waiting and eager for a historic ride. Well it’s about a mile from the staging
area to Furnace Creek and then there’s about a three-mile trek north to the
Harmony mine, and that’s where we’re headed, to go meet the old original
ancestor wagons. Well these are the lakebed flats where
the borax crystals were scraped up off the floor and refined here at the
Harmony mine. Once refined, they were put in sacks, loaded on these wagons and
headed south to the town of Mojave, 165 miles away, 10 days travel. Well this
little spot is a parking area where you can stop and go to the original mine.
It’s about 200 yards from where the mine and the original wagons set and because
of the terrain and the proximity, and being a national park, we hoped we could
get the wagons right up into this area, but it wasn’t possible. It was about 200
yards, as close as we could get, but these, wagons finally came home and met their
ancestors. So once we’re loaded back up, and
passengers are ready to go, go we’ll head ‘er back south, go back to Furnace Creek
and meet the folks that are patiently waiting for our return. Well, you may have noticed along this
road there is a bicycle path and a walking path, and we’ve had faithful
followers that have walked or bicycled all the way with us. Well, it might be the first time for
these new wagons to be in Death Valley in the center of the Mojave Desert, but
it’s not the first time that the jingle of heel chains and hame bells have made
their ring through the valley, but if you ever get a chance to head to Death
Valley, stop in, it’s worth the stop. These wagons, as you well know, are now with the
Laws Museum, just outside of Bishop California. They have a building
specifically made for them. You’re welcome anytime.
Death Valley is a unique National Park, unlike any other that I have seen, though
I haven’t seen them all. If you ever get a chance, especially in the fall or the
winter time, head to Death Valley and see what the desert is really like. Once
again, thanks for watching!

100 comments on “New Borax Wagons Meet Their Ancestors | Engels Coach Shop

  1. Are the old wagons in the museum the same ones used in Death Valley Days TV shows. And are they some ones used in the Gold creek Films documentary. Just hunting a little trivia. Part of the reason I ask is the tool box on the front of the lead wagon is different than on the ones you built. The lid is sloped down from back to front on about a 4/12 pitch on the older wagons. On you wagons the lid is flat but the front of the box is sloped back from top to bottom about that same angle.

  2. That is super cool that you were able to participate in that event. Those wagons looked they belonged there at the mine.

  3. Lord, she thanks us for having seen her films, but it is I who thank her, for the opportunity she gives me for the beautiful images I could see thanks again for her sacrifices, I am sure that in observing her work his heart was filled thanks again. Greetings from Catania

  4. I had a tear in my eye watching this. This brings back fond memories of a very good friend who loved the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley. Jay passed some years ago and would have had a great appreciation for the work you do. You remind me of Jay, less the Jack Daniels and Lucky Strikes. You’re videos are top notch and if the coach bulking thing doesn’t work out you have a fall back. God Bless.

  5. Great job, Dave!!! Excellent video! I particularly like how you got shots looking at the wheels turning from inside. You get a gold star for that! Your pal, M…

  6. You'd think that with such an historical event as this they could have made an exception so they could have pulled the new wagons up beside the originals. The comparison would have been an excellent photo opportunity to document the event. I bet you were proud of your wagons.

  7. Location: Sierra Nevada
    Description: The mountains on the West Coast of the US in general will be hot and rugged, with much upheaval, during the shift. The Sierras have been created because of subduction of Pacific plates under the lighter land mass, and these matters are never a gentle process. Snapping, sudden jolts, and bouncing rock stratas reacting to a sudden release of pressure can be expected all along the Sierras.
    ZetaTalk 1: http://www.zetatalk.com/info/tinfx057.htm

  8. Enjoyed the video Mr. Engel. That is really something. I can't even begin to imagine how you must have felt to see your work being viewed by all those people and being pulled by the mules. Thanks for taking the time to produce the video while y'all were on the trip. I sure hope I can visit there one day. Y'all take care and God bless.

  9. Thanks for the invite. I hope to see those wagons come early spring.
    I have a question about the 20 mule team. I noticed that 2 of the mules (the wheelers, I think) look suspiciously like horses. Was this a common practice with the 20 mule teams when they were actually hauling the borax?

  10. Look how smooth those wagons go along. Don't forget when the old wagons were new, they probably looked and pulled just as good. I wonder where the original wagons were built, and who were the wainwrights?

    Great views of the desert. I used to live down in that area and have been to Death Valley (go in spring when flowers are everywhere!) but somehow never got up to to the mines, and now I've moved back north. But once a desert rat, always a desert rat. So this was really cool to see.

  11. During the summer, that area is HOT. You can literally die in your front lawn from heat stroke in the middle of the day. Even the ANTS go back underground at about 10:30 AM and stay there until about 2:00 PM (it is amazing; they all come out of their holes at the same time like somebody blew a whistle at an old manufacturing plant in the 1930s!). I went out for an errand at noon during my summer job at a nearby military base while I was going to college. It was "only" a 15-minute walk to where I was going. I nearly passed out by the time I got to my destination and then I HAD TO WALK BACK! When I returned to the building I started out from, I opened up the double doors and the air conditioning hit me. I simply could not move for 5 minutes until I had cooled down enough to get back to my job. I never did that again, let me tell you! Tales from the NEW West!

  12. Didn't see you pick up a hammer, piece of
    metal, or a piece of wood.

    Liked it just as much!

    Dave, If I had made those wagons, I would have
    gone on MUCH more than you have. You have
    done some AMAZING things, but downplay the
    results. The result of all your blood and sweat,
    is awesome. I feel truly blessed, just to watch
    you create.


  13. Thanks for the wonderful video Dave. It must be a source of great joy for you, to see your work actually hitched up and rolling down the road, what they were designed and built for. Great stuff. 😊💚👍☘️

  14. This to me is a beautiful site and gives me the true insite of the history I studied in school growing up, it makes everything come together of what made our great American way of life and the hardships of our forefathers endured to make this country great today, thanks for the tour !
    You can be proud of your craftsmanship in making these wagons. It would be interesting to know how much it costs to make a team like this come together.

  15. Once again, thanks for hostin. That was a nice little documentary. You must have a great sense of accomplishment (as you should) seeing your “babies” all grown up and ready to do the same work as the originals. Kudos to you and everyone who helps to keep history alive for new generations. 😎👍👏

  16. You must beam with pride watching your hard work up there being pulled by mules and with people riding on board.

    Fantastic finish to a job well done.

  17. Oh man, that was awesome. Just thinking of the re-enactment of that history brought a tear to my eyes. You can be so proud your work. It's a delight to see. Job excellently done. Thanks so much for bringing us along.

  18. It must have been a very proud moment for you to see all the blood, sweat and tears and years of experience you put in. It can't be often you get to see your work in action.

  19. I've been to Monument Valley, the Bad Lands, Mount Rushmore and several other places but I just haven't been to Death Valley, yet. Hopefully someday.

  20. الطبيعه التي تحيط بكم جميله وخلابه حيث الجبال والسهول والمناخ اللطيف مما يحفز المرء على النشاط والعمل شكرا لك اخي الكريم

  21. l remember the 20 mile team models as a kid you could get off the box….gray and brown mules… I got gray and br other got brown….you had to build and harness it all..one of my very first models from the 60s….man….memories.

  22. Hi Dave this is one fantastic vlog seeing Death Valley it is so beautiful one thing it is a real pity about all the old wagons etc being left out side to basically rot away from what I have seen understandably they have to be shown but it is the the what makes Death Valley after park.But if it was not for the likes of yourself I for one would never have seen or even know that it existed thank you for showing😀👍

  23. Beautiful homecoming for these wagons, it has to be really satisfying for you to see and you really deserve to puff your chest out a bit. That is some mighty fine craftsmanship on display. The desert is so beautiful and is filled with contradictions. The grays and browns are dotted with bright colors from desert flowers you get hot during the day and frost at night and the vistas are unfathomably huge due to the dry air. You see mountains in the distance, drive half an hour and you are no closer. Great vid and great job!

  24. Brilliant Mr Engels. I had the privilege to stay at Furnace Creek ten years ago and your video brought it all back to me. Thank you for posting.

  25. I have memories of the TV show, Rosemary Clooney, plastic models of the 20 Mule Team and wagons sitting on friends mantels.

  26. "To see what the desert is like".

    The only place I have been where you can hear your own heartbeat and be awed by the sights at the same time.

  27. If been to Death Valley in summer of 2017. It was very hot, that is why we started early at 4 am. A very nice sunrise. But it sure was worth it.

  28. Hope you 'busted some buttons' watching the fruits of your labor in motion. Your are a true artisan. Love watching your vids.

  29. So asome! I'm so great full for your efforts you have given so much and I am so thankful for your sharing with us these wonderful times…

  30. Nice production! I think you can add film editor and producer to your extensive resume now. I remember death valley well from my time in the Marines. We rode through there on motorcycles and camped out for the night. We brought blankets and ponchos (because its Death Valley right?). Darned near froze to death LOL. I still remember those wagons, bigger than life.

  31. I take it that there's nothing done to preserve any of the wood in those old wagon's that they leave sitting out for display?
    It's a humbling sight to see all the work you put in and how they've all come out. Beautiful sight to see, especially to see all 20 mules pulling.
    Thank you for sharing. Cheers 🙂

  32. You must feel a deep sense of pride and joy for what you created/accomplished, and rightly so. I watched the whole episode of the build. It was great. For me, I feel like the project is finally completed. Thanks for sharing your talents and thoughts.

  33. Dave…had I known you were in my backyard I would have come over for the event and brought more Tamales for you & the missus. Few years ago Death Valley had what's known as a Super Bloom due to record Rainfall. It was well worth seeing the Dessert Valley covered in an Ocean of Flowers and Butterfly's by the Billions! Another time at Furnace Creek in Death Valley I remember the temperature at 1:AM in the middle of the night was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit when we stopped to use the Public Restrooms! Blew my mind they were even Open!! What really impressed me was the Air Conditioning!!!
    I love our National Parks… next time down, stop & see the Mighty Five in Utah: Zion, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Canyon Lands and Arches. Don't pass up the National Monuments or State Parks either…you have to experience them to believe them.

  34. Thank you what they have built there is a super job and the finest. Because these wagons to build of them in the whole world there are only very few that can still relive the skill and respect for that history can revive. You would have to dare these old ones who are standing there all back to life and restore that our grandson can still learn a lot from it Super

    Danke das was sie da gebaut haben ist eine Super Arbeit und das Vom aller Feinsten . Denn diese Wagen überhaupt zu Bauen davon gibt es in der Ganzen Welt nur noch ganz wenige die das noch Können und Respekt dafür das die Geschichte wieder Aufleben kann . Man müsste diese Alten wagen die dort nach stehen alle wieder ins Leben zurück hohlen und Restaurieren das unser Enkel noch viel davon Lernen können Super

  35. At 1:52, that view change to a different camera angle was a new twist. I don't recall you having done that before. In the background of the view when you turned your head, there is a big metal thing behind you with a flue. Is that some kind of wood fired heater? I have never seen one with that strange looking top. Could you do a video of a shop tour where you walk around and identify or give a brief explanation of each major piece of equipment. Start at the door to the office and make your way all the way around all the walls so we can get a good feel for the layout of the shop. I have seen almost all your videos, so I know you have done a number of videos of specific specialty equipment you use, but I don't think you have done an overall shop tour. You can add links to your past videos on specific equipment in the description so others can easily find them. It could be a nice easy wintertime video to make. What do you think?

  36. All that HISTORY … needs be PROTECTED.

  37. when i was a foundryman a few years ago we built life sized bronze sculptures of the Borax wagons, mules, people, etc. it took forever; those wagons are huge. my crew(all 3 of us) did all the metal pouring, sandblasting and plasma cutting on them.

  38. It's great these masterpieces finally seen their ancestors. Kind of neat that this historic event happens to coordinate with the anniversaries.

  39. Amazing. I am always touched by your skills. Not only your craftsmanship and presentation but also the way you convey your passion. Thank You

  40. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing, and what a true pleasure it must have been for you to get these wagons moving. Congratulations for a job well done!

  41. Dave: What is that huge round thing in the background at the start of your video? Dust extractor? Stove?
    It looks like 2 mismatched bodies of very large Valves with a cyclone on top.

  42. Fantastic! You're wonderful craftsmanship deserved this historic display. By the way, do you happen to know who built the reproduction freight wagon on display at Sutter's Fort?

  43. Reminds of the scene from the James Stewart move " The Man from Laramie" where the cowboy burns his salt wagons and shoots his mules. They were not full sized borax wagons, but were complete- wonder if they were originals or Hollywood props.

  44. DV Days S1E1 just recently started on Grit TV. I recommend watching them, especially the earlier ones – very entertaining.

  45. You deserve such a beautiful event. Thanks for sharing a bit of your history with us far away to the East in The Netherlands!

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