Barstow Area Mining

The history of mining in the Barstow area is closely tied to the extraction of various minerals and resources that played a significant role in the development of Southern California. Here’s a more detailed look at the history of mining in the Barstow area:

  1. Borax Mining: Borax mining was one of the earliest mining activities in the Barstow region. In the late 19th century, borax deposits, a valuable industrial mineral used in various applications, were discovered in the nearby Calico Mountains. The Pacific Coast Borax Company, owned by Francis Marion “Borax” Smith, was instrumental in developing borax mines in the area. This marked the beginning of significant mining operations in the region, with borax being a primary focus.
  2. Calico Mining District: The Calico Mining District, which includes the town of Calico, was a major center of mining activity in the Barstow area. Silver and silver-lead ores were the primary resources mined in this district. At its peak in the late 1800s, Calico had a population of over 3,000 people and was a bustling mining town.
  3. Calico Ghost Town: Calico, often referred to as Calico Ghost Town today, was once a thriving mining town. It featured numerous mines, including the Bismarck, Silver King, and Oriental Mines. Visitors to Calico can explore the well-preserved historic buildings, mines, and artifacts, gaining insight into the region’s mining history.
  4. Railroad Transportation: The expansion of railroads played a crucial role in facilitating the transportation of mined materials from the Barstow area to other parts of California and beyond. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway was a key transportation link for the mining industry, enabling the efficient movement of ores and minerals.
  5. Variety of Minerals: While borax, silver, and silver-lead ores were among the most significant resources mined in the Barstow area, various other minerals were also extracted. These included gypsum, limestone, and barite. These minerals had industrial applications and were important for construction and manufacturing.
  6. Decline of Mining: As the easily accessible mineral deposits were depleted, mining activities in the Barstow area began to decline. Many mines were abandoned, and mining communities saw a decrease in population. The shift in economic focus led to the decline of mining as a major industry in the region.

Today, the mining history of the Barstow area is preserved through places like Calico Ghost Town, museums, and historical sites. These serve as reminders of the pioneering spirit of early miners and the role mining played in shaping the history of Barstow and the surrounding region.