Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Visiting two museums in Boron, finding an old friend

Day Trippin' with Mel

After I visited the Rio Tinto Mine in Boron (see the last issue), I drove south on Borax Road to Twenty Mule Team Road to get to the Twenty Mule Team Museum and the Aerospace Museum, also in Boron.

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. I decided to visit the Aerospace Museum first.

When the docent inside asked me to sign the visitor's book, I thought she seemed familiar but I couldn't place her. She evidently had trouble placing me too, but eventually she said, "I know who you are!" Turns out it was Susan Cunningham, an artist (with a whole new haircut) who used to teach acrylics some years ago at what used to be my art store in downtown Tehachapi (the Treasure Trove).

What a small world! I had known Susan and her husband Bob had a home in Boron (and one in Northern California as well), and that she helped out at the family business there, but I didn't expect to see her at the museum. As it turns out, however, her family was quite involved in the establishment of the two museums and are ardent supporters of them.

Susan's late father, F.O. Roe (along with others) was instrumental in founding the museums and spearheading community support for the projects. At the time and for many years, F.O. owned the furniture store in Boron, and his wife, Irene (Susan's mother), owned the flower shop. Now retired, Irene, whom I met for the first time that day, was helping out at the museum. The mother-daughter team often volunteers at the museum, several days a week.

Mel Makaw.

A full-sized Air Force jet sits in front of the Aerospace Museum in Boron.

After some catching-up – plus another artist, Gloria Moore, from my old store and currently showing in Tehachapi Arts Center, showing up for an impromptu visit – Susan took me through the amazing museum and pointed out various items of interest. Her knowledge of the history of flight and her personal stories of her family's interactions with such historical figures such as Chuck Yeager and Pancho Barnes were fascinating.

The Boron Aerospace Museum originally opened in 2003 but was closed down for three years due to covid. It reopened last year and is run entirely by volunteers like Susan and Irene, and Alison Kapusta, who also showed up that afternoon and whom I had met a couple of years ago when I was there.

Susan's and Irene's and Alison's enthusiasm for the museum is catching. You can learn so much by visiting as the place is chock full of airplanes and airplane parts, pictures, uniforms, story boards, other flying objects, and a variety of items of related interest including some things "that are not found anywhere else in the world." Not to mention the knowledgeable volunteers who can tell you all about them.

The Twenty Mule Team Museum, opened in 1984, is right next door, and is the smaller of the two museums. 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 a.m. to 4 p.m. While you're there you might meet Peter George or other volunteers – or maybe a friendly dog or two – who keep the place open.

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 also open every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays).

Mel Makaw.

Learn all about the history of the area in the Twenty Mule Team Museum in Boron.

If you go, take Highway 58 East to Boron, and take the Boron Avenue exit, turning right (south). About a mile down that road, the museums are on the corner of Boron Avenue and Twenty Mule Team Road. Admission to both museums is free, and both are accessible.

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 an interesting and informative visitor center.

© 2024 Mel Makaw. Mel is a local writer and photographer and avid day-tripper; she welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions at [email protected]/.