I've driven by Bartlett at Owen's Lake and have seen silos and buildings. Often I wondered what used to be produced there.
Here is from a post I just recently read.
How many have driven on 395 and wondered the same as me?
Brian and Keith,
I can help on your question about the PPG Bartlett Plant and its office building- though I'm two years late w/ what little I know about it. My dad was a chemical engineer who worked at that plant from the late '50s until the plants closing in 1968. My understanding is the plant made soda ash (Sodium Carbonate)- a compound that was used by PPG's glass division to make glass. There used to be a calciner (big rotating cylinder where a heating process took place to cook off the water from the liquid salt slurry taken from Owens Lake. I see the calciner is gone now. My dad explained to me that the brine taken from the lake had to be fully saturated at 10.0 ppg density for the extraction and manufacturing process to be even marginally profitable.
In the winter of 1967-68, the Sierras took an abnormally high volume of snow fall. When the Spring of '68 came around, there was strong speculation that the aqueduct, which was uphill from several small towns on the East side of the Sierras, would overflow and decimate a town. It was decided to purposely breach the aqueduct directly above Owens Lake and let the excess water from the snow run off drain into the lake basin. The large volume of fresh water from the aqueduct draining into Owens Lake dropped its salinity to the point that every day the plant stayed open was another day it lost money. The plant was shut down in the Summer of '68 and Lone Pine was indeed decimated- not by water but by the loss of those jobs at the plant. For a ten year old boy and his three sisters, it was a hard transition to move from hiking and fishing in the Sierras to the swamps of Lake Charles, LA (there wasn't a mountain or hill for 200 miles). My dad finished his career w/ PPG at the LC plant in 1980 and immediately moved back to California.
06 June, 2013
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