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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Trona readies for centennial celebration

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  • March 27, 2014, will mark the 100th anniversary of the Trona Post Office and the official dedication of the town as an official community. To celebrate the occasion, the mining town is going to party March 28 through 30; there will be a parade, music festival, Searles Valley Minerals plant tours, memorabilia for sale and to photograph, mountain man encampments and a symposium on the history of Trona.
    The meeting was officiated by chairwoman “Lit” Brush, the oldest living Trona resident. She is not the oldest person in Trona, but she has lived in the town longer than anyone else alive – since 1926.
    The centennial committee met at the Trona Senior Center to discuss details and begin ironing out any last-minute wrinkles and getting the schedules set in stone. The committee is waiting for permits from San Bernardino County before the event can be officially advertised; specifically buying advertising space in newspapers or posting fliers about the event. The permits are for incidentals such as tarps and food vending.
    Permits applications were sent on time, but the process is slow. Priscilla Benadom, in charge of the permits, said she has been told a person named “Nita” is handling Trona’s permits and has said the permits should be in hand by next Friday. She said that was the good and bad news; good in that the permit is in process and not sitting on a desk somewhere, and the bad news being the committee has to wait for the permits before advertising the event that is just a few short weeks away.
    Brush asked Lori Cox of the Food Committee how things were progressing.
    “I haven’t been Lori Cox in more than 35 years, it’s Lori Zimmerman,” Zimmerman told Brush.
    “When you’ve lived here as long as I have you’re Lori Cox,” Brush said.
    There should be plenty to fill a belly at the event. Aside from the vendors selling their edible wares, there will be community feasts. There will be a pasta feed at the Senior Center Friday and the Elks Lodge is hosting a deep-pit barbecue Saturday.
    There will be a street fair and live music. Dicks Sims said he is also trying to get mountain men to set up encampments that display wagons and camp equipment from the Old West. There will be a musical group and family that will bring the wagon their ancestors used to come to California in the 1800s.
    Sims said there are a couple politicians running for various offices that have showed interest in attending. Sims said one prospective political visitor said he would bring out TV crews from Southern California to cover the event.
    Live music will include the music festival’s featured performer, Peter Stewart, nephew of Stan Jones who penned the Western classic, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
    Page 2 of 3 - There will be a parade with prizes and trophies for different categories, but those details are still being finalized.
    There will be several tours for visitors to the event. There will be rare tours of the Searles Valley Minerals mining operation, just like the ones offered during the popular Gem-O-Rama annual rock fest. The tours of the operations are a chance to see the inner workings of one of the most unique mines in the world.
    There will also be tours of the town’s many churches, and a guidebook to the Argus Cemetery has been published. Author Cholla Sizemore has produced an already popular guide to the cemetery that explains many of the tombstones and those that lay beneath them, buried from 1915 to 1965. The guide has been completed and Sizemore is waiting for the copies from the press and publisher. She said she asked for 500 copies but predicts she will have to have a second printing. She has talked about the book to a few local organizations that have already given her money for books. She added that the Historical Society of the High Desert has invited her to speak about the book at their next function and expects many more sales then. She said the society also wants to have the book for sale at the Historic USO Building bookstore.
    There will also be collectible post cards, created by Fred Hartson, for sale at the Searles Valley Historical Society Museum. A prized collector’s item will be the postcards with a commemorative stamp that will get a March 27 cancellation mark from the Trona Postmaster at the celebration.
    The design on the post card will be the same design on T-shirts and posters for the event. There will also be a special soda for the event, John Searles Root Beer, brewed and bottled by Indian Wells Brewing Company.
    The Trona Airport will have historic planes and others on display and will hold an ice cream social from 2-3 p.m. the Saturday of the event.
    The Trona Centennial Celebration History Symposium will take place from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday at the Trona High School Auditorium. The symposium will feature nearly 20 speakers talking on subjects ranging from the history of Trona Road to Chicken Liquor and other bootlegging ventures in the town.
    Trona Care! — the organization of volunteers that cleans up the small town — will be busy getting ready for the event, too. And, the local garden club will be placing beautiful bouquets and arrangements on the tombstones highlighted in Sizemore’s book.
    The event is still seeking volunteers to help with a load of projects leading up to, and on the day of, the event.
    More details about the events, the postcards and Sizemore’s book will be appearing in future editions of the Daily Independent. For current updates on the event, look for the Trona Centennial Celebration page on Facebook.
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