Trona on the Web: Stafford Wallace Austin

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Austin Hall: Photo by unknown
The photo above is of Austin hall. It was built in 1914 and was torn down 1965.
Austin Hall T-shirts with this picture are available to visitors of Trona from the SVHS.

In the early 1900s dozens of promoters and miners tried unsuccessfully to recover soda ash from the lake’s surface. The California Trona Company borrowed nearly $2 million to build two experimental plants to recover soda ash, potash, borax and sodium sulfate from the lake. Deep in debt, placed in receivership before the facilities were completed.

Serving as receiver for the failed business, S. W. Austin began building roads onto the lake and drilling exploratory wells. The Valley’s earliest operators had quite literally, scratched only the surface of the lake’s mineral wealth. Early operators recovered borax by scraping crystals from the lake’s surface crust. Austin discovered a mineral-rich layer of salts about 100 feet beneath the surface. Operators have concentrated on recovering that brine ever since.

If you would like to know more about S.W. Austin the man for which Austin Hall was named go to This is a great site created by Larry Blakely.

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S. W. Austin with other Trona men on trip to Kern River : Photo from J. Whitelaw


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Trona men on trip to Kern River : Photo from J. A. Whitelaw

Last Update: 02/23/2014

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