Death Valley isn’t really dead; it contains the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and is damned hot, but small animals come out at night to feed off the almost one thousand varities of plant life that call the valley home. But once it crawled with animals that aren’t natural desert dwellers: people and mules. The famed 20 mule teams that hauled millions of dollars worth of the miracle cleaner out of Death Valley, the "Borax Desert" (and gave birth to a brand name still used today). Francis "Borax" Smith, the mining and railroad magnate, began building his fortune off Death Valley borax. Smith made his mark on dozens of towns between his mines and his markets. Ghost towns dot the West; there are over 1600 in Nevada alone. Today borax powers concept cars and, along with other borates, in the manufacture of glass and ceramics. Borax Smith’s financial empire collapsed with the East Bay real estate market in 1913; he left his mansion to the city of Oakland, but his railroad rusts away. Except for hawks and desert miceand the occasional history buff, no one watches as it returns to the desert. None