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—  Unincorporated community  —
The Mosaic Company chemical plant dominates Trona
Trona is located in California
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 35°45′55″N 117°22′58″W / 35.76528°N 117.38278°W / 35.76528; -117.38278Coordinates: 35°45′55″N 117°22′58″W / 35.76528°N 117.38278°W / 35.76528; -117.38278
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93562
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID

Trona is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California, United States, within the census-designated place of Searles Valley. Trona is at the western edge of Searles Lake, a dry lakebed at the bottom of in Searles Valley, southwest of Death Valley. The town takes its name from the mineral trona, abundant in the lake. It is about 170 miles (274 km) northeast of Los Angeles, on State Route 178. The ZIP code is 93562.

Trona is known for its isolation and desolation.[1] as well as the nearby Trona Pinnacles. The local school plays on a dirt football field because the searing heat and highly saline soil kills grass. At one point it boasted an 18 hole golf course that was all sand except for the greens.[2]



Trona abuts the dry Searles Lake bed

Starting in the late 1800s mining industry set up around Searles Dry Lake to mine borax.

Trona was officially established in 1913, as a self-contained company town, wholly operated by its resident mining company to house employees. Employees were paid in company scrip instead of cash. The mining company also built a library, a scrip-accepting for-profit grocery store, a school, basic housing, and minimal recreation facilities. The Trona Railway was built in 1913-14 to provide the town with a rail connection to the Southern Pacific (now the Union Pacific) line at Searles. The railway still operates today.

Economic booms and busts followed. Its most notable boom occurred during World War I, when Trona was the only reliable American source of potash, an important element used in the production of gunpowder.

Today, Searles Valley Minerals Inc.'s soda ash processing plant remains the largest firm in town. Other operations nearby include evaporative salt extraction from the dry lake bed's surface, and a lime quarry. Searles Valley Minerals is the largest employer in Trona, and many employees live in Ridgecrest, California, commuting daily to Trona.

Trona also serves as the headquarters and base of operations for the Trona Railway, a shortline railroad.

Trona High School's unique dirt football field

Trona High School has 162 students and competes as the Tornadoes. It has the only dirt American football field in the United States outside of Alaska.[1]

A number of Hollywood films have been shot in the surrounding desert (particularly around the Trona Pinnacles), including Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Planet of the Apes.[1] In the 2000s, the town itself served as the setting for two films, Trona (2005) and Just Add Water (2008).


The same collection of geologic forces which created the Searles Valley where Trona sits also created the natural resource of Searles Dry Lake, which contains rich deposits of chemicals, including dozens of minerals.[3]

Located a few miles to the south are the Trona Pinnacles, an unusual landscape consisting of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake basin.


In the state legislature, Trona is located in the 18th Senate District, represented by Republican Roy Ashburn, and in the 32nd Assembly District, represented by Republican Jean Fuller. Federally, Searles Valley is located in California's 25th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +7[4] and is represented by Republican Buck McKeon.

Views of Trona


  1. ^ a b c David Kelly, Solitary, Splendid Squalor, Los Angeles Times, October 4, 2006, Accessed May 16, 2009.
  2. ^ Christensen, Joe (Nov 28, 1996). "Bucking the usual tradition Trona's all-sand field gets nod of approval from CIF". The Press - Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.): p. D.01. 
  3. ^ "Searles Lake, San Bernardino Co., California, USA". Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 

External links

A dust storm forms over the dry Searles Lake bed, taken from the Trona tourist stop.

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