| Debbie Miller | 2017 Trips

"Old Dinah" Lives On

Old Dinah

An article from Westways September 16, 2016 issue sparked some interest from DE’er Julie Smith. A little digging revealed this: “Old Dinah was Borax Smith’s experiment in transporting ore from the mines at Borate to the railroad at Daggett in 1894. Dinah was a traction engine which burned coal – 3.5 tons a day. Her speed was 3.5 miles an hour on level ground, not including time out for getting stuck in sand. On steep grades she slipped backwards faster than she could go forward.

It took four men to keep Dinah running: an engineer, a fireman, a brakeman and a mechanic who worked all night, every night to put her in shape for the next day’s run.

After a year struggle, Dinah was abandoned and the 20 Mule Teams which had continued to haul alongside of her took over the job again.”

Old Dinah got one more chance when borax operations resumed in Death Valley in 1904. Trying to avoid the expense of a railroad into Death Valley, the Borax Company graded a 98 mile tractor road from the borax mines to the railroad. Dinah broke down on her first trip, and had to be towed home by the very mules she had tried so long to replace. In 1910, Old Dinah was sold to a freighter for use hauling supplies between Beatty and the Keane Wonder Mine. After a couple of years, Dinah broke down in the Daylight Pass and her owner abandoned her in disgust. In 1932, Harry Gower rescued Old Dinah and brought her to her  present location in Furnace Creek.


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