Daggett was founded in the 1860s as Calico Junction, and was renamed Daggett in honor of Lieutenant Governor of California, John Daggett in 1883. The name change also helped to avoid confusion with the nearby bustling mining community of Calico.
The Daggett-Calico Railroad was built in 1888 to haul ore from the mines of Calico to the Oro Grande Milling Company, located on the outskirts of Daggett. The railroad was short-lived, and was closed in 1892. Silver had played out in the Calicos.
The borax rush was on in 1888. Francis Marion “Borax” Smith acquired the Harmony and Meridian Borax Companies. He built a road and a narrow gauge railroad to the Calico Mountains from Daggett. By 1902, Daggett was supported by three borax mines. The town now had three stores, three saloons, two Chinese restaurants, a railroad, a drug store, a lumber yard, and a hotel.
A number of original structures are still standing in Daggett today.
The Stone Hotel – Built around 1875 as a two-story building with a balcony. It survived three fires, the last in 1908 when the hotel was restored to the present one-story building.
Desert Market – The original store was destroyed in a fire in 1908. It was rebuilt using a railroad carload of cement. It was the first fire-proof structure in the Mojave Desert.
Alf’s Blacksmith Shop – Rebuilt in 1894 after a fire, Alf’s built Borax wagons, the original Death Valley-Mojave wagons. Alf’s home is located next to the shop, and the Alf’s family still calls it home to this day.
A short distance from the town sits the Daggett Pioneer Cemetery. Grave stones date back to the 1840s. Hundreds of graves, some marked, some not dot the desolate desert landscape.
Interested in visiting this site?
GUIDE SERVICE OPTION: Jim’s Guide Service may be the right choice for you. Jim can provide you with a single day to multiday tours throughout the Mojave Desert. Visit the guide website for more details.
BOOK OPTION: Daggett is featured in Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. III. Detailed maps, and GPS coordinates are included. Order your copy now.