If a ballerina is performing for an audience of empty seats, would anyone ever observe her pointe?  For artist Marta Becket, the answer was yes. Finding an abandoned theater while changing a flat tire, Becket would work tirelessly for the next several decades to put a deserted mining town back on the map, eventually being “discovered” herself. 

In the unincorporated town of Death Valley Junction, there are no grocery stores, no bars, or any gas station – but there is an opera house. It wasn’t always this way, as in the early 20th century the town then known as Amargosa sprung up alongside the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. In 1923, the Pacific Coast Borax Company built a U-shaped lodging and community hall for their workers mining borax sodium in the surrounding mountains of Death Valley. By 1925, however, operations ceased to exist, and the desert structures were left to the sands of time. Even the railroad departed the small settlement, with the tracks ripped up, and was sent to Egypt to aid the Allied war effort. It would be over twenty years until a fateful car ride would change the direction of the barely-over-the-border community.

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Last Update: 05/21/2024