Boron 20 Mule Team Days

Celebrating nearly 150 years of innovation

History of the U.S. Borax 20 Mule Team

The first 20 mule team hauled borax a sweeping 165 miles through Death Valley in 1883. Fully loaded with two ore wagons and a 1,200-gallon water wagon, the rig weighed 36.5 tons. Though the expansion of railways led to the 20 mule team’s retirement, the team has lived on for more than a century as a trademark for U.S. Borax.

20 Mule Team Borax—TV Show

The 20 Mule Team® Borax brand originally became a household name through the radio program Death Valley Days which evolved into a TV show (now available on DVD) starring Ronald Reagan. The teams rode for:

  • 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair
  • President Woodrow Wilson’s 1917 inauguration
  • The dedication of the San Francisco Bay Bridge in 1937
  • 1999 Rose Parade

Death Valley Days - Ronald Reagan

145-Year History as a Leading Supplier of Boron

In celebration of this historic icon’s 145th anniversary, a full-scale, authentic, working replica of the wagons rode in the 2017 Rose Parade. Construction of the replica wagons took nearly two years, to ensure their authenticity and capability.

Since the discovery of borates in California’s Death Valley in 1881, U.S. Borax has come a long way. Over our 145-year history as a leading supplier of boron, many things have changed. Today, the boron we mine is used in everything from soap (sold today through partnership with Henkel Dial) to fertilizers to cell-phone glass.

But one thing never changes: Our innovative spirit and commitment to our customers, employees, and community.

20 Mule Team Borax

Looking Forward

Today, the 20 Mule Team continues to inspire our imagination—and our determination to keep innovating. As the supplier of more than 30% of the world’s refined borates and operator of the largest open pit mine in California, Rio Tinto Borates is proud of our Boron, California family. Each October, the city of Boron hosts Boron 20 Mule Team Days, a day-long celebration of the town’s mining heritage and bright future: many more years of innovative and exciting research, product development, and community partnership.
Learn more about 20 Mule Team Borax uses.

Dave Engel

Dave Engel is the man behind the replica set of the wagons that were featured in the 2017 Boron 20 Mule Team Days as well as that year’s Independence Day parade in Washington, D.C.

Watch the video to learn more about Engel and his work on the replica ›


Death Valley Conservancy

The Death Valley Conservancy (DVC) is a non-profit organization that strives to provide support and funding for projects that preserve, protect, or enhance Death Valley Park by improving the Death Valley area’s natural, cultural, and historic resources and the visitor experience. The DVC has full responsibility for managing the restoration of sites such as Ryan Mining Camp, operated by Pacific Coast Borax from 1915-1927.

Learn more ›

Dial Soap 20 Mule Team

In 1988, the Dial Corporation acquired the 20 Mule Team brand because of the many uses of borates in every day household items. Since 1891, all-natural borax has been an essential ingredient in a multitude of household products, including laundry and multi-purpose cleaning solutions.

Learn more ›

Death Valley National Park

Stephen T. Mather created the 20 Mule Team brand when he launched his career at the Pacific Coast Borax Company, which became U.S. Borax before being acquired by Rio Tinto in 1967. It was the start of a lucrative business venture, and one that would lead him from mining to his ultimate calling—helping to create the National Park Service.

Learn more ›


20 Mule Team parade
Celebrating 145 years of Rio Tinto's borates business. Watch the video
Rio Tinto Borate’s 145-year celebration
Celebrating 145 years of the 20 mule team. Watch the video

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 500 customers with more than 1,700 delivery locations globally. We supply 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto

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