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| Emmett & Ruth Harder | Trip Reports

2015 - Ryan Camp Trip report #2

Ryan Camp Trip

May 19/20, 2015

Leaders- Emmett & Ruth Harder

We were excited to be going to the Ryan Camp. It was a very large and well preserved facility that had been the paramount mine for the US Borax Company where for years they had mined Colemanite, a Borax ore. After they developed other mines they converted the facility into a tourist Mecca, which lasted for a short few years. After that was discontinued they still maintained the large camp with resident caretakers.  The Rio Tinto Corporation donated the property to the Death Valley Conservancy (This was finalized in April, 2013). The restoration and preservation of Ryan Camp is made possible by generous donations from Rio Tinto and U.S. Borax.

We had been invited as a small group to tour the Camp, guided by the current restorers and caretakers, Scott Smith and his wife, Dr. Jessica Smith RPA, who is Director of Archeology Ryan Operations.

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Counting ourselves we had 18 persons on our trip. Jerry and Joni Harada, Mal Roode, Nan Savage Healy, Kathleen Fosselman, Steve Jarvis, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Mignon Slentz, Ellen Miller, Ron Lipari, Nelson Miller, Richard and Jo Pope, Bill and Barbara Gossett.

Day 1 - We all met at the turn-off for the Ryan Camp. We spent a few minutes chatting and getting acquainted then gathered for Steve Jarvis to take a group picture. Ruth chose this moment to present Sue Jaussaud with the #1 prize ($500) from the Mojave River Valley Museum’s BBQ Opportunity drawings. Way to go Sue!

Emmett had talked with Scott Smith the night before and Scott said he was having the road blacktopped so he would need to escort us in. Ok, that was no problem. However, when we met Scott he said we could only take 4-wheel drive vehicles. Emmett and I wondered about this as the road up to the camp is an easy passenger car drive. Nevertheless we weren’t going to question his wisdom. So we spent a few minutes shuffling some of us around to other cars.

Shortly after getting underway we understood why the need for 4X4 vehicles. A new (I hope temporary) road had been graded to the camp. It went straight up, then down, in a zigzagging course, going higher and higher, was very narrow (no guard rails here!) and at times you couldn’t see what was ahead or which way to turn. It was definitely an unexpected adventure.

We all arrived safely and in good spirits. After a restroom break Scott took us into the office where bottled water and freshly baked cookies awaited us. Scott gave us the history of Ryan Camp and then his wife, Jessica joined us and talked about the geology and the future plans for the camp. The ultimate goal for Ryan is for it to function as a world-class facility supporting scientific research and education in historic preservation, archeology, and history.

Scott then led everyone on a tour of the camp. This took a good three hours. He showed and explained all facets of how they lived and maintained themselves during the active mining days.

Then the exciting trip back down the mountain. There was only one tire mishap which was readily changed without too much trouble. We all went our separate ways until the next day.

Day 2 – A few of our group had to leave early to go home but eleven of us met at the Shoshone/Timbisha Indian Reservation at 8:30am. Barbara Durham, the Tribe Historian, met with us and gave a great talk about the tribe and their way of life. She thoroughly answered our many questions. We then went into their little museum and we visited with her for some time there.

From there we all went our separate ways.

I think everyone had a very good time and a somewhat out of the ordinary trip. They were a great group; the weather was perfect; we had a bit of adventure and a lot of laughs.

Anyone interested in knowing more about what they are doing at Ryan can check out their Facebook page at