|HIGHLIGHTS FROM SEARLES VALLEY TIMELINE
1863 - While mining gold and silver in the Slate Range mountains with three partners, an engineer working for John W. Searles complains that the soda from the salt flats below, now called Searles Dry Lake, contained too much borax to properly process the ore. Searles takes samples of this soda to a company that had recently started mining borax near Clear Lake in northern California, but their assay showed no borax. Searles returns to mining gold and silver.
1873 - A man who had visited Francis "Borax" Smith at Teel's Marsh, Nevada, shows Searles samples of Smith's borax. Quickly Searles and three partners stake claims to 640 acres of the San Bernardino Borax Mining Company. He uses mules to haul borax in wagons to San Pedro.
1895 - Two years before John Searles' death, the San Bernardino Borax Mining Company is sold to the Pacific Coast Borax Company (owned by "Borax" Smith), which shuts down the Searles Lake operations shortly thereafter.
1914 - The Trona Railway Company completes 31 miles of track to Trona from the Searles Station junction with the Southern Pacific Railroad. American Trona Corporation establishes the company-owned town of Trona.
1919 - American Trona Corporation introduces the Three Elephant brand name for borax. The name indicates strength relative to the competing 20 - Mule Team brand.
1926 - American Trona becomes American Potash & Chemical Corporation. Borax production begins at the West End chemical plant.
1932 - Exploratory drilling on Searles Lake indicates the existence of a lower salt bed filled with brine, greatly increasing the lake's known reserves.
1962 - American Potash & Chemical Corporation develops a novel solvent extraction process to recover boric acid and potassium sulfate from weak brines. They receive national recognition and an award for their innovative process.
1967 - American Potash & Chemical Corporation is acquired by Kerr-McGee Corporation.
1977 - Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation begins operation of its new Argus power plant. This is the first large industrial boiler in California fired by coal.
1990 - D. George Harris and Associates acquires the Soda Products Division of the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation and forms the North American Chemical Company.
1996 - North American Chemical Company improves borax mining on Searles Lake and uses this to almost double borax production at the Westend Plant. They also increase soda ash production at the Argus Plant. Finally, they shut down all potash and borax production at the Trona Plant, bringing to an end the eighty-one year history of recovering potash from Searles Lake brines.
1998 - IMC Global Incorporation acquired Trona's North American Chemical Company. The North American Chemical Company facilities at Trona and Westend were renamed IMC Chemicals Incorporated to match the name of their parent corporation.
2004 - Sun Capital acquires IMC Chemicals Incorporated and renames the business Searles Valley Minerals Incorporated.
2008 - Nirma acquires Searles Valley Minerals Incorporated.