Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Two museums in Boron

Day Trippin' with Mel

This week's offering is a twofer: the Twenty Mule Team Museum and the Aerospace Museum, both in Boron, California.

I went back to Boron a few days ago to check out two little but mighty museums, each offering quite different experiences but both highly significant to the history of the local area.

The museums are side by side on the corner of Boron Avenue and Twenty Mule Team Road, and right across the street from the 20 Mule Café (and a block down from Domingo's), making an easy stop to visit both and have lunch while you're there.

The Twenty Mule Team Museum is the smaller of the two but it's packed with documents and artifacts pertaining to local history and the history of borax mining in the area. The museum is open every day (except for major holidays) from 10-4. While you're there you might meet Dave Steinhauer and his friendly dog Abby, or any one of the other knowledgeable volunteers.

One of the most unique objects in this museum, which has been open since the 1970s, is the metal Borax soap sign hanging over the gift shop area, the oldest item in the museum. Dave told me it dates back to the early 1900s. "Someone found it in Great Britain and offered it to the museum," he said. "The museum bought it and had it shipped over here." It's one of many unique offerings of this museum.

Right next door is the Boron Aerospace Museum, which originally opened in 2003. It was closed for three years due to covid but reopened on April 10 this year. It is also run by volunteers, like Sebastian Moreno (and his dogs Star and Moon), who was also the first volunteer to work the museum when it originally opened in November of 2003.

Sebastian was in the museum the day I was there, as was Mike Kirkley, an aircraft mechanic-turned-teacher who is currently serving as president of the Board of the Aerospace Museum, and vice president Alison Kapusta, who noted that the museum is very dog-friendly while I was petting Star. She laughed and said, "You're welcome to bring your dog in if I can love on it."

Alison's enthusiasm for the museum is catching, as is Mike's and Sebastian's as they point out various displays of special interest. Alison also noted that in the museum, which is chock full of airplanes and airplane parts, pictures, uniforms, story boards, other flying objects, and a variety items of related interest, are some things "that are not found anywhere else in the world."

For instance, the skis hanging on the wall are from the first airplane from Richard Byrd's first trip to Antarctic 1929.

Also, on loan from NASA are original computers from the space shuttle era. It's amazing to see how far the technology has come in the last 50-60 years, and for me it was also a reminder of how truly amazing the first space travel efforts were.

"There's just such a lot of history here," Sebastian said, and how right he is!

Both the Twenty Mule Team Museum and the Aerospace Museum are under the auspices of the Boron Chamber of Commerce and are run by volunteers and separate boards. "We're all good friends here," Alison said, "We all support each other."

The Aerospace Museum is open when volunteers are available, usually on weekends. However, Alison said to give her a call any time you want to visit and if no one is working the museum that day and she's available, she'll make a trip in to open it for you. Her number is (661) 942-5182 (leave a message and she'll get back to you).

If you go, take the 58 East and then take the Boron Avenue exit. The museums are on the corner of Boron Avenue and Twenty Mule Team Road. Admission to both museums is free.

And if you have time while you're in the area, don't forget that the Rio Tinto Borax Mine, about 3 miles west of Boron, also has a great and informative visitor center.

© 2022 Mel White/Mel Makaw. Mel is a local writer and photographer and avid day-tripper; she welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions at [email protected].