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Daggett is an unincorporated community located in San Bernardino County, California in the United States. The town is located on Interstate 40 ten miles (16 km) East of Barstow. The town has a population of about 200. The ZIP code is 92327 and the community is inside area code 760.
The town was originally founded in the 1880s just after the discovery of silver in the mines near Calico to the north. In 1882, the Southern Pacific Railroad with the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (Later Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, BNSF) from Mojave was being completed in the area and it was thought that a good name for the town would be Calico Junction. But this name would be too confusing since it was right next to Calico, where the silver was uncovered. It was decided to name the city after then Lieutenant Governor of California, John Daggett, during the Spring of 1883. There were plans to make Daggett the main station of the area and to have a railyard there to handle the heavy trains coming from the East, but due to the silver mining making the prices of land go too high, the ATSF moved up to Barstow, California and established the main rail station there. In 1903, the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (later Union Pacific Railroad) also built their line from Las Vegas through Daggett to reach Los Angeles, California and East San Pedro by borrowing trackage of the ATSF through to Barstow to allow the servicing of their engines at the roundhouse located there.
Not only did silver define Daggett's history, but borax was also important to the city's economy. For two years, it was the terminal of the twenty-mule team run from Death Valley, but after one of their swampers, William Pitt was lynched, the Pacific Borax Company made the terminal in Mojave. And later on in 1891, Francis Marion Smith the 'Borax King' moved down to Daggett from Death Valley's Harmony Borax Works to install mining operations at a borax came called Borate, which was located about three miles east of Calico and the former silver mines. This operation required many laborers to come and help, it was reported that Pacific Coast Borax Company employed nearly 200 men. At first, the borax was hauled by the soon-to-be-famous 20 Mule Team, but Smith sought to replace the mules with more cheaper, efficient means of transportation. The Borate and Daggett Railroad was built in 1896 to take the duty of borax hauling from the mules.
Daggett became quite a big city in the 1890s, boasting to have three stores, two restaurants, three saloons, three hotels, a lumberyard, and even a Chinese eating place. But after 1911, when richer borax deposits were discovered north of Daggett in Death Valley at the Lila C. Mines, all the mining operations were moved up there which caused Daggett to go into a steady decline, which continues even to this day. But after the establishment of the solar energy plants, Daggett still struggles to hang on to life and there are still some people which travel through the town to reach Yermo, California and Las Vegas today.
Daggett is the location of Daggett Airport. The facility is a general aviation airport serving the Barstow area. It is also the regional weather information center. The airport was built as a modification center for the Douglas A-20 Havoc bomber aircraft that were sent to Russia as part of the Lend-Lease program during World War II.
As of 2003, 1000 people lived in Daggett, though nearly 1500 live in the surrounding area. Only about 200 people actually live in the town. The town's elevation is approximately 2,000 feet (610 m).
Solar power generation
Daggett was also home to a unique solar thermal energy plant named Solar One, a pilot project which was operational from 1982 to 1986. The plant used mirror-like heliostats to aim sunlight at a collecting sphere located on a solar power tower (a type of solar furnace), through which oil flowed. The large quantity of sunlight reflected on the sphere superheated the oil, which was then used to create steam for power generation. The plant was upgraded in 1995 as part of the Solar Two project. Solar Two substituted molten salt compounds instead of oil as an energy storage medium.
During calibration of the power plant's thousands of heliostats, a ball of glowing light was sometimes seen in the nearby area. This effect was caused by the heliostats focusing sunlight onto a specific point. As the intensity of the light increased, it reflected off dust in the desert air. This phenomenon was sometimes seen by passersby on the nearby Interstate 40 and 15.
Solar Two was decommissioned in 1999, and the facility was converted in 2001 into a gamma-ray astronomy telescope. The facility is now known as CACTUS (Converted Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope Using Solar-2). CACTUS, which is operated by the University of California, Davis but owned by Southern California Edison, operated from late 2004 until late 2005.
On November 25, 2009, the Solar Two tower was demolished The site was levelled by Southern California Edison. All heliostats and other hardware were removed. Plans are in place to develop a training facility for Southern California Edison to train personnel on construction and maintenance of high power transmission lines and towers.
Daggett is a station on the BNSF Railway on the Needles Subdivision. Trains are frequent on the line as this line goes to Chicago, it is also a junction of the Union Pacific's Cima subdivision, the former LA&SL, line from Salt Lake City, Utah via Las Vegas, Nevada. The UP runs via trackagage rights on the BNSF and goes to Riverside, California.
Back in its heyday, Daggett had two narrow gauge railroads, the Borate and Daggett Railroad and the Waterloo Mining Railroad, both built to export silver and borax ore out of the Calico Mountains several miles north. Both were 3 ft gauge, and both were serviced by two steam locomotives each. But after 1910, both of these railroads were closed down and abandoned due to the mining companies moving on to greener pastures found to the north in Death Valley. The old railroad beds can still be traced in some places in the desert, but now most of the old grades have been paved over to support cars and off-road vehicles.
The Daggett Cemetery is located at .
- Solar Energy Generating Systems
- "History of Solar Two".[dead link]
- "Solar Two Experimental Solar Facility". Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- "History of Solar Two". Retrieved 2009-02-20.[dead link]
- "Going out with a bang | bang, daggett, going - Top Story". Desert Dispatch. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Daggett Cemetery
- IMDb The Grapes of Wrath locations, IMDb
- Climate Summary for Daggett, California
- Van Dyke, Dix; Wild, Peter (editor) (1997). Daggett: Life in a Mojave Frontier. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 183. ISBN 978-0801856259 OCLC 36178998, 605563047 and 658057160 (print and on-line)
- Reviewed by: Steeples, Douglas (April 1, 2000, copyright Summer 2008). "Daggett: Life in a Mojave Frontier Town." Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Montana Historical Society. OCLC 4894630759 and Yardley, Jonathan. (December 17, 1997). "Desert Solitaire; A Quirky Chronicle of Life in the Mojave". The Washington Post. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive. Both retrieved February 3, 2013 from HighBeam Research