Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Midnight Run to Fortune.
Wild Dash in Auto Wins a Great Stake.
Young Man Gets Control of World Industry.
Richest Borax Deposit Ever Found Is His.

Webmaster's note.

Thomas Thorkildsen's Sterling Borax Co. formed in 1908 and absorbed or bought out the American Borax Co. referenced here. Read this.

A new king of the borax industry has been enthroned in Southern California and Frank ("Borax") Smith will have to take a back seat and resign his scepter as the magnate of an industry, although still the most potent factor of the Death Valley mines.

A new borax mine has been discovered within forty-four miles of Los Angeles, which experts declare to be the biggest borax mine in the world and the only large deposit of boracite known. Just what this mine is worth in dollars is not estimated, but it is not for sale at any price, nor is any of the stock of the American Borax Company, which controls the new mine for sale.

The romance of this discovery reads like a fairy tale from the days of Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp. Hundreds of prospectors have trodden over the untold wealth which lay under their feet in Tick Canon, which branches off from the Soledad Canon five miles north of Lang station, while the mines lie four and a half miles from the Southern Pacific tracks up the canon.

His Lucky Dig.

But only last August Henry C. Shepard was curious enough to dig about four feet in the queer-looking white stuff which cropped out of the ground and he sent a small chunk to the laboratory of the American Borax Company at Daggett. That was the beginning.

For eight years Henry Blumenberg has been working in California to make a success of the American Borax Company's deposits of borax up in the Mojave Desert. Mr. Blumenberg is the managing director of the company and owns about one-third of its capital stock.

But during these eight years it has been an up-hill game and more than once Mr. Blumenberg almost threw up his hands, for from the very start the "Borax" Smith interests fought the new company tooth and nail in every way. They reduced the price of borax until it was below cost of production; they put stumbling blocks in the way of the new company and did all that was possible to crush them.

Then one day there came in the laboratory of the company a little piece of white stuff and a note from a lone, forlorn prospector asking for information about it.

"Los Angeles County — Another deposit of importance found since the close of 1906 is that acquired by Mr. Henry Blumenberg, of teh American Borax Company, near Lang, in the Soledad canyon, Los Angeles County. It is a vein of colemanite about 10 feet thick near the surface, but sufficient development has not been made on the property to prove its exact extent. The deposit is ear a railroad line." From: "Mineral Resources of the United States: Calendar Year 1906," Washington, Government Printing Office, 1907. (Courtesy of Stan Walker.)

Turn Of The Tide.

It was the unexpected rub of Aladdin's lamp, and the genii of untold riches up phantom-like, before the eyes of the little group of half-discouraged men in that dingy laboratory.

Hardly waiting to grab his coat and hat, Blumenberg jumped out of Daggett on the first train for Los Angeles. When he whirled into La Grande station on the Santa Fe, he took an automobile by storm and flew over to the Arcade station to catch the night train up to Lang station, in the Soledad.

He just missed it. But there at the Arcade was W.W. Cahill, the right-hand man of "Borax" Smith, pacing up and down waiting for a train.

For a moment Blumenberg feared that all was lost, that his last chance for fame and fortune was gone, for he knew that if "Borax" Smith or Cale got to that mine first he might just as well retire from the business and start fresh in something else without a cent.

Wild Night Ride.

Rushing uptown again he hired the biggest and fastest automobile he could find, engaged two chauffeurs and armed them to the teeth and just before midnight the last week of August last started up the San Fernando Valley on a wild dash for the control of a world industry.

The story of that terrible night ride over the desert and through the frowning canons, down break-neck grades and over the dry washes of winter torrents deserves a chronicle by itself.

But when the sun rose and the distant shriek of a Southern Pacific train sounded from away down the Soledad, Blumenberg and his horseless drivers, haggard, dusy and triumphant, turned into Tick Canon and knew that they had won the race.

Never was a man so surprised as Prospector Henry C. Shepard when Blumenberg dropped in upon him as though from the clouds. If that little chunk of ore in the laboratory was like a modern Aladdin's lamp the dusty, disheveled Blumenberg seemed like one of the genii of that same lamp.

In an incredibly short time all the arrangements were made between Blumenberg and Shepard. The latter was to become the superintendent of the mine on a salary and to receive a royalty upon every ton of borax mined in his two claims, the contract to run practically for the life of the mine.

Clinches Fortune.

It was all done in the name of Henry Blumenberg and the company did not figure, but as soon as Blumenberg reached civilization again he deeded over to the company every foot of the twenty claims he had at once filed upon in Tick Canyon, and the contract with Shepard and once more resuming his position as the manager and director of the company. Two-thirds of the great fortune which lay in his hands he deeded away to the soulless corporation because he knew it was right to do so.

Then "Borax" Smith came to town and there was something doing. But it was too late. The biggest mine of pure boracite and colemanite in the world is cinched.

And this mine is the nearest one of its kind to a shipping point and to the water and Blumenberg has already made all the arrangements to ship immense quantities to France, England, and Germany. This week the first shipment of 2 tons of the ore will be made over the Southern Pacific Railroad. [Remainder of last paragraph illegible.]

Courtesy of Stan Walker


History/Description (CA Div Mines 1954)


Sterling Borax Story (Keebler)


Stephen Mather Story (Shankland)


Scorza Video 2007


Points of Interest


L.A. Times 1907


Origins 1907-1908


Orig. Corp. Seal 1908


Ink Blotter ~1910s


Multiple Views


Dinky Locomotives (Mult.)


Mine, Mill, Camp (Mult.)


Teacher Hired 1923


Inside Shaft ~1984 x2


Tick Canyon Howlite in Smithsonian 2014


Tick Canyon Howlite


Modern Times

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