Daggett Dog Gone It Route 66
Daggett doggone it. Daggett California in the Mojave Desert has time and time again come into view with the elements of the earth and sun, now it lays empty except for the 200 people who live in the town. When Barry and I traveled east on Route 66 in 2013 I was excited to see Daggett, this old ghost town, to explore and take pictures. I could tell by the look on his face that looking at old worn out buildings and abandoned places was not his cup of tea, and so I quickly revised our itinerary to bypass the true and empty ghost towns for the rest of the trip. I on the other hand can be the pursuer of the unusual, the photographer of the abandoned. Thus, I have gone back and visited this enormously interesting town by myself and will again.
Daggett’s first encounter with the elements of earth and sun, came as far back as 1883. Silver mining was the money maker. Silver had been found in the hills of Calico nearby and Daggett was to be the center of the Railroad system. The land was expensive though and the railroad hub and center was move to Barstow CA where the huge Harvey House was built and multi tracks still function today.
The second encounter with the elements of earth and sun was the Borax industry. Daggett was the terminal for this product to be transported for two years until a swamper (mule team driver’s assistant) for the company was lynched. There was a hiatus and eventually the operation started up again as Daggett does have a railroad terminal. In 1911 the operation was moved to Death Valley CA
The last and biggest encounter with the elements of earth and sun for this town was solar energy. In 1982 an experimental Solar Energy Plant was built and was operational from 1982 to 1986. It was decommissioned in 1999. In 2001 it became known as a Gamma Ray Astronomy Center. There were two phases at the plant and on 2009 the tower of Solar 2 was blasted and destroyed. A short but informative article is here:
Going out with a Bang, Edison destroys Tower 2 at Solar Plant
Several of the technologies that are in use today at other Solar Plants were developed at this plant.
Silver, Borax, Solar Energy, Daggett seems to be at the center of some of the riskier developments of its time. Each manufacturing or development of these elements has left a mark and has its risks and rewards. Mining is always dangerous; Borax has been found to be toxic to humans and solar energy has its naysayers and the environmentalists are still out on the big Solar Energy Plants and what they do to the surrounding land.
Meanwhile Daggett, it sits empty. You will see the bold sign that says Daggett as you travel Route 66 you will see the Ski roof house that was once a café, you will see Mugwump’s that catered to Route 66 travelers. The bypass of Route 66 affected these businesses, as in many other towns. But the real subjectification here is the elements, the Borax, Silver, Solar Energy, all huge money makers and yet the town is desolate and a ghost town. Have they just picked the wrong elements, dangerous in some ways, or some that simply run out as in the silver?
But it sure makes for an interesting history of the town to explore, to wonder what might have been, and to wonder what will come next. A new solar plant perhaps? Will they continue to play with the elements of the earth and sun on a ground that is now so abandoned it may be used unwisely given their previous forays.
There is a map of the town in the photos to download. To see the buildings on the map, take a short 200-foot detour off Route 66 into the town. Bonus they have a great cemetery. Daggett has a very proud name marquee as you enter and by gosh and by golly they should, doggone it!