Borate was a large community during its prime. It had boarding houses, private homes, a post office, a cook's shack, a recreation room, and other structures. Recreation in those days consisted primarily of card games.
You won't find the remains of the buildings: Most were moved to Death Valley when the mine was closed. Anything remaining has been carried off by visitors. The mine shafts are caved in, but huge stacks of mine tailings mark their locations.
Standing high up on the hillside and looking down, the remains of a loading chute stir the imagination back to the days when the 20-mule team waited patiently below for the loading to complete. Then, with a mighty heave-ho, they dragged the wagons down the narrow passage to connect with Mule Canyon Road and begin the long journey to Dagget.
Due to mining activities in years gone by, the Calico Mountains contain a maze of roads. A group could easily spend a few days in the area and never cover the same road twice. Unfortunately, Lone Writer only had one day to spare. Badhat and Bear needed to be at work on Monday. But, they still had a few hours of daylight left so the exploring continued.
After leaving Borate, they turned down Tin Can Alley Road. There are no signs marking that one either. It got its name during the mining years when residents of Borate used it to discard the many tin cans emptied by hungry miners. Clean-up efforts by numerous groups have removed most of the cans, so the origin of the road's name is not so obvious.
Continuing up Tin Can Alley took them past numerous intersections to an old silver mine called Bismarck Camp. The mining camp is fun to visit because of the many tunnels to explore. Extreme care must be taken with young ones in this area because there is an abundance of holes for them to fall into. If you plan to explore the many tunnels, don't forget a flashlight.
As the day came to an end, Lone Writer found a reference to Kramer's Arch in the old book Badhat had brought along. At first, they used the directions in the book to search for the arch but did not find it. Then Badhat noticed a page with the GPS position listed. Lone Writer keyed it into TopoUSA and a new route was chosen. They parked the Jeep at the bottom of a very steep and rugged hill beside a campsite. A short hike up that hill and Badhat could be heard in the distance yelling, "I found it!"
The arch is interesting to use as a window frame to the valley below and the roads leading in. By the time they returned to the campsite where the Jeep was parked, the sun was setting in the west. Determined to make the day last as long as possible, they turned on some side roads and immediately found minefields of boulders that would challenge any modified vehicle. Since they had only one vehicle and no one would volunteer to walk for help if anything got broken, they decided to back out and return along the easier route.
The sun was completely gone when Badhat parked his Jeep in the lot at Peggy Sue's Diner. "There's no better way to end a terrific day than dinner at Peggy Sue's," Bear said with a grin.