Saturday, May 25, 2024

Fish Springs, Utah by Zina Abbott


Fish Springs around 17,000 years ago was covered by Lake Bonneville, a massive terminal lake, or inland sea. 


Pre-historic Lake Bonneville

Covering almost 20,000 square miles, it was the largest Late Pleistocene paleolake in the Great Basin of western North America. The lake rose and fell several times during its 35,000-year existence based on an increase in precipitation and a decrease in evaporation as a result of cooler temperatures. At its highest level, this lake covered about forty percent of the state of Utah plus parts of Nevada and Idaho.

The Lake declined to present levels in the Great Salt Lake ecosystem around 11,400 years ago. On the mountain ranges that surround what is now the Fish Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, you can see the ancient shorelines, also called benches, where the water levels were stable for extended periods. The Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, and Sevier Lake are the largest post-Bonneville lakes in the Bonneville basin. 

Middle Spring

However, in the desert region of western Utah, there are other remnants of Bonneville Lake, which include freshwater springs. One of the most impressive is Fish Springs, located in Juab County, which contain fish—the native Utah chub—which are holdovers from the original freshwater lake.

Salt flats outside Fish Springs

Fish Springs is believed to the end of the flowpath of natural springs, which feed the wetlands. Thet are along a linear path at the range front and include North Springs, Deadman Springs, House Springs, Middle Springs, Thomas Springs, South Springs, and Percy Springs. The water of Fish Springs is not suited for human consumption, being warm and highly saline. The above photograph taken just outside the Fish Springs wetlands shows that the region was desert.



Archeologists believe the first inhabitants of the Fish Springs wetlands area and the surrounding springs were probably Paleo Archaic, who arrived about 11,000 years ago. These springs were also the ancestral homelands to the nomadic Goshute (Goshiute, Gosiuta) tribe, a Shoshoni-language people believed to have migrated there from the Death Valley, California, region. They occupied the land from the 1400s to the 1900s.

While en route from California to central Utah, Jedediah Smith was the first European explorer to visit the springs in 1827. 

Fish Springs on Pony Express Trail-ctsy NPS

The Central Overland Trail and the Pony Express maintained two waystations at Fish Springs. One was named Fish Springs and the other, about four miles north, was called Warm Springs. It is believed Warm Springs was abandoned because of bad weather.

Thomas Ranch, Fish Springs, Juab County

 In 1861, the first transcontinental telegraph crossed the Fish Springs wetlands. Early in the 20th century, the nation’s first transcontinental automobile road, the Lincoln Highway, cut its way through what is now the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. Markers for these routes can be seen at the House Spring and Thomas Ranch.

In my most recently published book, Lucy, part of the Prairie Roses Collection, I set a scene along the Central Overland Trail that followed the old Pony Express Trail (The same company originally owned and operated both). Please CLICK HERE to find an excerpt.

Lucy is currently available as an ebook, for sale or at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It is also available in paperback. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE



Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ever add borax powder to your laundry?

  Or perhaps it was used by one of your historical characters in the late 1800's.                         

The concentrate is also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. William Tell Coleman named his product 20-Mule Team Borax after the transport used to carry the powder from his Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek, California to the railhead at Mojave, California. Between 1883 and 1889, the teams repeatedly made this grueling 164-mile, ten-day trip across primitive roads.



  The 20-mule teams were actually teams of 18 mules and two horses. The big burly horses were usually first in line near the driver to get the wagon going, and the mules’ stamina and hard work kept it rolling. The wagons were the largest ever pulled by draft animals and were designed to carry 10 short tons of borax at a time. Thankfully and surprisingly, when the teams operated out of the Harmony Borax Works, not a single mule or wagon was lost. 
public domain map

In the 19th century, borax was an ingredient used in ceramics and gold mining, but it was also touted as a cure-all for everything from dandruff to epilepsy. First found in dry lakebeds in Tibet, for 500 years it was transported in ancient times along the Silk Road. Today borax is a component of many detergents, and cosmetics. It also ensures a good fit between the glaze or enamel, and the item it covers while adding to the brilliance of the glaze. 

The Borax Museum in Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek, is the oldest building in Death Valley. 

There is even a movie of hard times, murder, and misplaced love, built around borax mining.

 Borax remains a component in many uses. Sometimes the "old ways" still work best.

Cleaning and Household Use: commonly used as a cleaning agent and laundry booster.

Pest Control: effective to deter ants, cockroaches, fleas, termites and other insects by disrupting their digestive systems and exoskeletons.

Preservative: has preservative properties and can be used to extend the shelf life of certain perishable goods, such as fresh-cut flowers and certain food products.

Fire Retardant: added to materials such as wood, fabrics, and cellulose insulation to reduce their flammability.

Flux: helps to lower the melting point of metals and facilitate the soldering or welding process.

Glass and Ceramic Production: Borax is an essential ingredient in the production of glass and ceramics.

Chemical Reactions and Science Experiments: used in various chemical reactions and laboratory experiments as a pH buffer.

Borax should be handled with care, especially when using it in concentrated forms or in areas accessible to children or pets. It is recommended to follow appropriate safety guidelines and instructions when using borax.


Gini's books include:

 Western Romance: Break Heart Canyon * Undercover Outlaw * Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats * A Cowboy’s Fate * Special Delivery.

Contemporary Romantic Thriller: Fatal Recall

Medieval Romance: The Dragon and The Rose * Iron Heart * Promise Me Christmas.

Victorian Romance: Lady Gallant * Victorian Dream

Fantasy: The Fae Warriors Trilogy: Solace * Bliss * Portence


Social media



Amazon author



Barnes and Noble



The Wild Rose Press




Monday, May 20, 2024

The Land of Oz


   On a recent trip to Nebraska, I went on over to Kansas and explored the Oz Museum. A lovely gem in the town of Wamego, Kansas. 

The museum has an extensive collection of memorabilia from the 1939 MGM film "The Wizard of Oz," including consumes, props, and personal items from the cast. Artifacts include the original movie scripts, production notes, and autographed photos by Judy Garland and the cast.

The Yellow Brick Road leads you through the museum and the various scenes from the story, each carefully recreated with detailed backdrops and life-sized figures of the characters. All your favorites are there. Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. Even the Wicked Witch and Glenda.

An exhibit dedicated to the author, showcasing his other works and providing insight into his inspirations for writing the Oz series. I didn't know there were so many books in the series. It would be neat to be able to read them all. It was also interesting to see how many Oz books were later written by different authors. I bought Wicked from the gift shop before I left.

  The museum has the ruby slippers and Dorothy's dress on display as well as many other costumes from the movie. There is so much behind the scenes information that I never knew and fascinating stories of the munchkins. The ballerina munchkin's dress and story are in a display. Various dolls, toys, and even nutcrackers of the characters were there as well.

  A few doors down from the museum is the Oz Winery with I sampled several different wines. All were good and I bought a bottle of Squished Witch. There were so many fun names for the wines that tied into the Land of Oz. 

   Across the street from the museum is the gateway to the Yellow Brick Road that takes you between two buildings to see Wizard of Oz paintings on the walls. If you continue down the path, you will come to a nice little cafe/bakery and then to the city park. It's a great way to spend a few hours. As you stroll down the street, there are many statues of Toto painted in various ways.

I would highly recommend going to see this fascinating little town and taking in all the sights. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Opioid Addiction in the Old West


 During the era of the Old West in the 19th century, opioid addiction was a significant issue, albeit under different circumstances compared to contemporary times. One prominent opioid during this period was laudanum, a tincture of opium mixed with alcohol, widely available in general stores and pharmacies. It was commonly used to alleviate pain, diarrhea, and coughing, but its addictive properties led to widespread misuse and addiction among settlers and frontiersmen.

The lack of regulation and oversight in the Old West contributed to the widespread availability and misuse of opioids. Laudanum was often self-administered without proper medical guidance, leading to addiction and dependence among individuals seeking relief from physical ailments or simply seeking escape from the harsh realities of frontier life.  Additionally, the glamorization of substance use in popular culture of the time, including portrayals in literature and entertainment further normalized opioid consumption.

Opioid addiction in the Old West had significant social and economic ramifications. It affected individuals from all walks of life, including cowboys, miners, and settlers, leading to decreased productivity, increased crime rates, and strained community resources. Furthermore, the lack of effective treatment options meant that many individuals struggled with addiction without adequate support. Despite the passage of time and advancements in understanding addiction, the opioid problems of the Old West serve as a historical reminder of the enduring challenges associated with substance misuse and the importance of comprehensive approaches to addressing addiction.