Borate and Daggett Railroad - History

History

Francis Marion Smith originally intended to use mule teams to carry borax ore to Daggett until he tried to use a steam tractor called "Old Dinah" to carry the ore instead. The tractor broke down too often and was eventually retired. In 1908, Smith finally began to build a 3ft-gauge railroad to carry the ore faster than the mules and the tractor.

The railroad owned 2 steam engines, both Heisler locomotives. They were named "Francis" and "Marion" after Francis Marion Smith, the "Borax King" and founder of Pacific Coast Borax Company. Ore from the Calico Mountains was carried in wooden, side-dump ore cars. A few odd flatcars completed the roster of rolling stock.

In 1907, the ore at Borate began to run out of fresh borax deposits. Once Smith discovered richer borax deposits in Death Valley, he moved his headquarters there and the last B&D steam train ran into Daggett about two years later.

The two locomotives were stored away in Daggett for a while until 1913 where they were taken to Ludlow, California to work on constructing the Death Valley Railroad, another one of Smith's narrow gauge lines. Francis was the engine sent to Death Valley, but Marion was thought too old for service and was cut up at the engine shops. After the Death Valley Railroad shut down, Francis was moved to the Nevada Short Line Railway to work until he was sent to Round Mountain, California to work for the Terry Lumber Company. In 1919, Terry Lumber sold the locomotive to the Red River Lumber Co.

The locomotive was lost without trace by 1920 and its current whereabouts are not known.

After the railroad ceased operations, some of the equipment was shipped to Ludlow, California. Still later, it was used to construct the Death Valley Railroad.

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