20 Team Mule

Men in search of quick fortunes began drifting into Death Valley after the Civil War, hoping to find a lucky strike of gold or silver.  In 1881, one such prospector, Aaron Winters, was living with his wife, Rosie, at Ash Meadows, a desolate place near the Funeral Mountain, on the east side of Death Valley.

According to one visitor, the Winters lived in a hovel, “close against a hill, one side half-hewn out of rock, with a thatched roof. The earth served as a floor.”

That visitor was Harry Spiller, who had come riding down from Nevada, looking for a mineral that men were cashing in on big there.  “It lays in dry lake bottoms,” he told Winters, “white crystals like cottonball turned into mineral.  They call it borax.  Big demand for it.”

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