DEATH VALLEY, a California desert valley near the Nevada line, is the driest and hottest area in North America.
Death Valley received its name from a party of emigrants who tried to find a shortcut from Salt Lake City to California in 1849. Instead, they were attacked by Paiute Indians in the bottom of Death Valley. The emigrants killed their oxen, burned their wagons to cure the meat, and headed west on foot. Thirteen died in transit, though the rest succeeded in reaching California.
Death Valley was once famous for a series of now-lost mines, and later became known for its production of borax. In 1933 Death Valley was proclaimed a national monument—nearly 1.9 million acres in California and Nevada. In 1994, it became a national park.
Coolidge, Dean. Death Valley Prospectors. Morongo Valley, Calif.: Sagebrush Press, 1985.
Lingenfelter, Richard E. Death Valley & the Amargosa: A Land of Illusion. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.