President Ronald Reagan was host of the TV Series "Death Valley days" And the Twenty Mule Team Trains.
William Coleman's Twenty mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that carried borax (Soap) out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889. They traveled from the Borax mines near present day Boron, to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles away in Mojave, California.. In 1877, six years before the twenty mule teams were introduced into Death Valley, another man, named Francis Smith and his brother shipped their company's borax in a 30-ton load using two large wagons with a third wagon for food and water drawn by a 24-mule team over a 160-mile stretch of desert between Teel's Marsh and Wadsworth, Nevada... Francis Smith acquired Coleman's holdings in 1890 and consolidated them with his own to form the Pacific Coast Borax Company.
When the mule teams were replaced by a new rail spur in 1890, the name 20 Mule Team Borax was established and aggressively promoted by Pacific Coast Borax as a way to increase sales of its product. Stephen Mather, son of J.W. Mather, the administrator of the company's New York office, persuaded Smith to add the name 20 Mule Team Borax to go with the famous sketch of the mule team already on the box... The twenty mule team symbol was first used in 1891 and registered in 1894. More than 100 years later In 1988, just over 20 years after the acquisition of U.S. Borax by Rio Tinto Group, the Boraxo, Borateem, and 20-Mule Team product lines were sold to Dial Corporation by U.S. Borax
The twenty mule team wagons were among the largest ever pulled by mules, designed to carry 10 tons of borax ore at a time.. The rear wheels measured seven feet high, with tires made of one-inch-thick iron.. There first attempt at using normal brass wrapped wooden wheels, ended in disaster.. The wagons beds measured 16 feet long and were 6 feet deep constructed of solid oak, and they weighed 7,800 pounds empty.. When loaded with ore and a 500 gallon water tank, the total weight of the mule train was 73,200 pounds.. With the mules, the assembled horses, mules and wagons stretched over 100 feet, thus the nick name of 20 mule trains.
The horses were called wheelers, the last two animals in the double line, that is, the two closest to the wagon.. They were ridden by one of the three men generally required to operate the wagons, and were needed because mules were not trained to be ridden.. The teams hauled more than 20 million pounds of borax out of Death Valley in the six years of the operation.