That is what this seemingly disorganized jumble of letters and numbers represents; the chemical formula for the mineral known as trona. It is what a certain small town in the very northwestern corner of San Bernardino County is named for. Trona is one of a few minerals mined and refined there. Apparently, not much else happens there.

Trona the town is about as out of the way as one can get in the contiguous United States of American. Death Valley to the northeast at least gets tourists. Not much flora survives in the hellish summer heat and caustically saline soil. The athletic field at Trona High School is famous for being grassless dirt. Even the now defunct golf course was dirt. Roofs are more important for providing shade than for keeping the four inches of annual rainfall out. A leaky house is more likely to petrify before it rots. The inertly arid air, roasting heat and acrid drifting minerals seems to sterilize and embalm even abandoned houses. The Google Satellite image shows how boringly uniform the factory tract houses are. Many are now abandoned. Some are missing.

Why am I mentioning Trona here? Because horticulture is so limited in Trona. There might not be many better places in America for a horticulturist who lives amongst dense forests of the tallest trees in the world to go on vacation! There are so few distractions! The vast desert extends for miles in every direction, with only a few plants surviving in home gardens in town. The satellite image shows how empty the gardens are. A single lawn can not be found. Even artificial turf is notably absent, perhaps because no one wants to go outside in such horrid weather.

I suppose that I will never know until I go there.

34 thoughts on “Na2CO3•NaHCO3•2H2O

  1. I Googled that one – not a nice place at all! This led me to Google ghost towns in South Africa and there are quite a few – mostly mining towns that have been abandoned, including the old asbestos mining towns.

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  2. I have been through Trona on several occasions, always on the way to Death Valley. It’s actually one of our favorite National Park destinations. Trona is blink-and-you-miss-it small, and we have almost never seen actual people there. It’s dry, desolate, and bleak. I can only imagine what it would be like living there, and having your nearest “big city attractions” in the not-much-bigger Ridgecrest 30 minutes away. However, Mr. Horticulturalist, I think you would be very distracted by the unique flora that survives despite what we humans think are horrid climatic conditions. As a biologist, I am constantly amazed at what I find there!

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      1. Haha — Approaching Death Valley from the other side, there’s a place called Amargosa — it’s one building houses an opera house, and is quite well known for its operas! Equally desolate to Trona!

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      2. I’ve been through Amargosa, but didn’t stop there — I think they play the opera once a month or something like that, and I was there on the wrong day!

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    1. It certainly is away from tourists, and everything else. I do not think that the Mojave Desert is as big as the empty parts of the Red Center of Australia, but when one is out there, it doesn’t matter. It is big and empty enough that there is nothing to see for miles. It is a whole lot of nothing!

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    1. Wow! I have been so fascinated with Trona, but know nothing about it. I looked at a home on Lupine Street. It was probably identical to yours, although they seem to have different frontages. They all look the same from above. Do you know if they all have the same floor plan?


    1. Thanks so much for reblogging this. Ridgecrest is really having a rough time right now — I’m not sure anybody has reached Trona yet to see what the destruction is there. What a sad place!

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      1. The news is deplorable! It is too stuffed with advertisements to get any useful information from. Unrelated pictures of devastation form other disasters are posted just to get people to stop and look!

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  3. The news here has been pretty good — I watched Lucy Jones most of the day on 7/4, unbroken by ads — and again after the 7.1 last night, though not for so long. Perhaps that’s because I’m in So Cal rather than No Cal? The pictures are just now beginning to come through — cracks across the roads around Trona and China Lake, stuff falling off shelves in stores, fires in a very few houses and mobile homes in Ridgecrest. It’s all desert out there, so less interesting pictures — I haven’t yet seen any directly from Trona.

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