ROCK SALT

Trona is a mining town in the Mojave Desert near Death Valley, California. The town receives three inches of rainfall a year and averages a high of 106°F during the summer.

An urban experiment, Trona was established in 1913 by American Trona Corp to house a workforce extracting borax and soda ash from Searles Dry Lake. The corporation wholly owned and operated the town, which grew into a community of 7000. ATC built housing and schools, grocery shops, dance halls, cinemas, a lido and a golf course. It payed its employees in part in its own currency (company scrip) redeemable solely at company owned facilities.
 
The 1970s and 80s were beset by labour disputes and by the mid-80s, over 75% of the workforce had been fired or made redundant. Decline followed. Houses were abandoned, shops and facilities shuttered.
 
Though the processing plants still produce two million tons of industrial minerals a year, Trona’s population today is 1100 and falling.