I’ve been to Death Valley a couple of times, and both times inquired at the ranger station about any remnants or trail ruts made from the old 20-mule team borax trains. I was told that there may be some ruts and trails, but no one was sure. I find it hard

I’ve been to Death Valley a couple of times, and both times inquired at the ranger station about any remnants or trail ruts made from the old 20-mule team borax trains. I was told that there may be some ruts and trails, but no one was sure. I find it hard to believe that these huge wagons would not have left permanent ruts so that a hiker could follow one of these historic trails today. Any ideas?

John Mazella
Manchester, New Hampshire

Trails, whether they are Indian, mountain men, cattle or wagon always followed the path of least resistance, providing there were essential watering holes along the way. This should help locate the borax trails. Wagon ruts on old trails such as the Honeymoon Trail across Arizona’s Colorado Plateau and along the Oregon Trail can still be seen, however it depends on the terrain. Wind, sand and time can wipe out a trail completely in just a few years.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.