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Trona, San Bernardino County, California facts for kids

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Trona
Unincorporated community
Searles Valley Minerals chemical plant dominates Trona
Searles Valley Minerals chemical plant dominates Trona
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93562

Trona is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California. In 2015 it had a population of approximately 1,900. Trona is at the western edge of Searles Lake, a dry lake bed in Searles Valley, southwest of Death Valley. The town takes its name from the mineral trona, abundant in the lakebed. It is about 170 miles (274 km) northeast of Los Angeles, on State Route 178. The ZIP code is 93562.

Trona is known for its isolation and desolation, as well as the nearby Trona Pinnacles. The local school plays on a dirt football field because the searing heat and highly saline soil kills grass. At one point it boasted an 18-hole golf course that was all sand except for the "greens", which were a softer grade of brown colored dirt.

History

01-2007-Trona-CA-onSearlesLake
Trona abuts the dry Searles Lake bed

Starting in the late 1800s mining industry set up around Searles Dry Lake to mine borax.

Trona was officially established in 1913, as a self-contained company town, wholly operated by its resident mining company to house employees. Employees were paid in company scrip instead of cash. The mining company also built a library, a scrip-accepting for-profit grocery store, a school, basic housing, and minimal recreation facilities. The Trona Railway was built in 1913–14 to provide the town with a rail connection to the Southern Pacific (now the Union Pacific) line at Searles. The railway still operates today.

Economic booms and busts followed. Its most notable boom occurred during World War I, when Trona was the only reliable American source of potash, an important element used in the production of gunpowder.

Today, Searles Valley Minerals Inc.'s soda ash processing plant remains the largest firm in town. Other operations nearby include evaporative salt extraction from the dry lake bed's surface, and a lime quarry. Searles Valley Minerals is the largest employer in Trona, and many employees live in Ridgecrest, California, commuting daily to Trona.

Trona also serves as the headquarters and base of operations for the Trona Railway, a short-line railroad.

Since its heyday, Trona's population has decreased. Based on 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, Redlands-based geographic information systems firm Esri estimates Trona had 1,883 residents in 2010 and 1,904 residents in 2015, down from a peak of about 6,000 several decades prior. Esri predicts a small rise in population to 1,941 in 2020.

Geography

The same collection of geologic forces which created the Searles Valley where Trona sits also created the natural resource of Searles Dry Lake, which contains rich deposits of chemicals, including dozens of minerals.

Located a few miles to the south are the Trona Pinnacles, an unusual landscape consisting of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake basin.

Climate

Trona has an arid climate with cool winters and hot summers. Average January temperatures are a maximum of 58.2 °F (14.6 °C) and a minimum of 32.9 °F (0.5 °C). Average July temperatures are a maximum of 105.5 °F (40.8 °C) and a minimum of 73.3 °F (22.9 °C). There are an average of 140.1 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 45.3 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record high temperature was 118 °F (48 °C) on August 13, 1933; July 25, 1943; May 27, 1951; and June 29, 1956. The record low temperature was 8 °F (−13 °C) on December 23, 1990.

Average annual precipitation is 3.98 inches (101 mm) and there are an average of 18 days annually with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1941 with 9.01 inches (229 mm) and the driest year was 1953 with .41 inches (10 mm). The most precipitation in one month was 5.01 inches (127 mm) in January 1995. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 2.25 inches (57 mm) on August 15, 1984. Snowfall is very rare in Trona, averaging only 0.3 inches (7.6 mm), but there was 9.0 inches (230 mm) in January 1974.

Climate data for Trona, CA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 83
(28.3)
88
(31.1)
93
(33.9)
102
(38.9)
111
(43.9)
118
(47.8)
118
(47.8)
118
(47.8)
116
(46.7)
106
(41.1)
96
(35.6)
83
(28.3)
118
(-17.8)
Average high °F (°C) 58.2
(14.56)
64.7
(18.17)
71.4
(21.89)
79.2
(26.22)
88.5
(31.39)
98.5
(36.94)
105.5
(40.83)
103.4
(39.67)
96.3
(35.72)
83.8
(28.78)
69.1
(20.61)
58.3
(14.61)
81.41
(27.449)
Average low °F (°C) 32.9
(0.5)
38.0
(3.33)
43.6
(6.44)
50.0
(10)
58.3
(14.61)
66.0
(18.89)
73.3
(22.94)
71.8
(22.11)
64.2
(17.89)
52.8
(11.56)
40.4
(4.67)
33.2
(0.67)
52.04
(11.134)
Record low °F (°C) 10
(-12.2)
12
(-11.1)
20
(-6.7)
25
(-3.9)
36
(2.2)
41
(5)
54
(12.2)
50
(10)
40
(4.4)
23
(-5)
17
(-8.3)
8
(-13.3)
8
(-17.8)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.73
(18.5)
0.87
(22.1)
0.47
(11.9)
0.17
(4.3)
0.09
(2.3)
0.07
(1.8)
0.11
(2.8)
0.20
(5.1)
0.19
(4.8)
0.17
(4.3)
0.34
(8.6)
0.52
(13.2)
3.93
(99.8)
Snowfall inches (cm) 0.3
(0.8)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.8)
Source: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca9035

In Popular Culture

A number of Hollywood films have been shot in the surrounding desert (particularly around the Trona Pinnacles), including Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Planet of the Apes. In the 2000s, the town itself served as the setting for three films, Trona (2004), Just Add Water (2008) and Lost Lake (2012).

Trona Airport

The Trona Airport serves the community as a general aviation airfield.

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