Monday, October 25, 2010

Saline Valley Salt Company Stock Certificate Found!

As the years pass, researching the true story of the Salt Tram is getting more difficult, as the abundant photos and written first hand accounts from that era find their way into landfills (instead of museums). We  are striving to rediscover the efforts of those who built and ran the Salt Tram, in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories.  
We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1950's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

Just got back (November 2010) from the Eastern California Museum, and got to actually hold the stock certificate, and I was thrilled! Tim on left posing with the lovely Roberta H. from the ECM. Also see the Friends of the Eastern California Museum website.

Dorothy, the donor of the certificate, hadn't thought to look on the back of the certificate. We knew there was something back there, because it bled through to the front! Here's a photo of the back, which isn't so great (click to enlarge), but some day I'll bring my scanner up to ECM and scan the back. Until then, this has gotta do:

Here's what the back of the stock certificate says:

For value Received, __________, hereby sell, assign and transfer unto
______________ Shares
of the Capital Stock represented by the within Certificate, 
and do hereby irrevocably constitute and appoint
______________ Attorney
to transfer the said stock on the Books of the within named 
Corporation with full power of Substitution in the premises.
Dated__________________ 19___

In Presence of_____________


And finally, I was able to reverse the corporate seal, and was pleasantly surprised! It says "THE SALINE VALLEY SALT COMPANY" (that's not the surprise), followed by the corporate icon showing a sunrise over the Saline Valley, with piles of Salt in the Foreground! Awesome. Can't wait to scan it cleanly, the reproduce the logo! (click to enlarge).
Above is the logo that Laura Waag at Sidedoor Studios created from the imprint above it. This logo is on the Salt Tram T-Shirts - you should get one! Find out more by clicking here


Update! November 1, 2011:
Just got home from Halloween in southern Calif., and found this in the mail! A scan from Dorothy! Thanks, Dorothy - this is an awesome contribution to vintage California History! (click to enlarge)

We recently received an email from Dorothy of the state of Georgia, who inherited a Saline Valley Salt Company Stock Certificate from her grandfather 20 years ago! She was puzzled for all of these 20 years, until she found our website! Then it made sense! Her grandfather, from Tennessee, owned the certificate. Since we now know that Tennessee investors provided the bulk of the investment money to build the tram, it made sense that her relative from Tennessee would own the certificate! As far as we know, it is the only surviving Salt Tram stock certificate! We understand why Dorothy was initially confused: She lives in Georgia, inherited a SVSC stock certificate from her grandfather in Tennessee, from a company that was incorporated in Arizona and ran something called a Salt Tram in California! Dorothy is planning on having it scanned for us, then donated to the Eastern California Museum in Independence, California. For a more detailed account of our email discourse, see below: 

2010.09.16: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia] I just googled this company [Saline Valley Salt Company, we presume] for the first time, and found your website [this site], and your request for information.  I have a stock certificate, number 135, dated 6 May 1920, for 250 shares of this company, par value $1.00 each, made over to my grandfather, E. B. Houseal.  The secretary's signature looks looks like "Jno. M. Ray" and the president, "J. A. Goodman."  It's a good-looking stock certificate.  I could not figure out how my grandfather would know about such a company, since he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1920.  I have only skimmed over a couple of articles so far, but have already found a reference from a 1910 newspaper article referring to Tennessee investors, and in another to a "go-devil," [for more information on the origins of the Salt Tram's Go-Devil, click on this link Go Devil] a term my grandmother used - she grew up in the Texas panhandle on an early cotton farm (1900 or so).  From her description, I thought of it as a plow, but now I think it was something used to clear land. I inherited the certificate about 20 years ago, but was unable to find out much at the time.  This was before I had access to the World Wide Web!!!  This is so interesting!  Thanks for the information, Dorothy, Georgia. 

2010.09.16: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia] I am confused.  The Saline Valley Salt Company stock certificate I have says the company was incorporated in Arizona on 16 June 1903.  Was this an Arizona company or a California company, or both? [Answer: Incorporated in Arizona but operated in California; held board meetings in Arizona, probably as required by law?] 

2010.09.17: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia]... I will investigate scanning the certificate, etc. Dorothy

2010.10.18: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia]... I dropped the stock certificate off at a local photographer's to get a "high resolution scan" on a disk, which I am prepared to mail to you this week. After I make myself a photocopy, I think I'll take your advice and donate it to the Eastern California museum in Independence, California.  Do you have contact information for the museum?  Since no one here has any idea of the history involved, I suspect it would eventually get lost one way or another, as so many artifacts do - water, fire, landfill.  This has been a lot of fun, Thanks, Dorothy, Georgia.

2010.19.21: [Email correspondence from Jon Klusmire, Museum Services Administrator, Eastern California Museum, Independence, Calif.] Ms. Dorothy *****: The Eastern California Museum would be delighted to have you donate your family's stock certificate for the Saline Valley Salt Company. We have a substantial collection of photos, documents and some artifacts from the mining operation and the stock certificate would be a nice addition to our collection. I'm sure that you could simply mail the certificate to the Museum (maybe put it between two piece of light cardboard), and when we receive it, we will provide you a confirmation of your donation and other necessary paperwork to complete the donation. Our mailing address is: 

2010.10.27: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia] Tim, I need an address so I can send the disc to you, it's ready to go.  I have sent the original stock certificate to Joh Klusmire, who contacted me recently via email.  Yours, Dorothy ------
[We emailed Dorothy back, and thanked her profusely for her donation of the stock certificate to the Eastern California Museum, and for the scan of the stock certificate for us; we will post the stock certificate on this website as soon as we receive the scan of it - yeah! 

2010.10.27: [Email correspondence from Dorothy from the state of Georgia]  Tim, the newspaper clipping is great! [Dorothy is referring to the image at the end of this post].  Thanks so much.  My address is ... Georgia.  The disc will arrive inside the photog's envelope. We were in San Luis Obispo many years ago, and stayed at that inn Madonna Inn [Tim lives in SLO, Calif. and takes any chance he can get to promote the town!].  Unforgettable!  Gosh, that was 20 years ago.  I hope we can get out West at least one more time.  I am deeply involved in researching my family history ...  I have an MA in history and have done a lot of historical research and writing.  Perhaps when I've gotten more of my family history completed, I can help you out with historical research on the Saline Valley Salt Co..  Just ask me what you want to know, and I'll try to find out.  The internet is a wonderful thing ... put me on your [Salt Tram] mailing list ... Till later, Dorothy...     

Replica of Stock Certificate 
If you would like a replica of the Saline Valley Salt Company stocker certificate, reply to and one will be sent to you - a high quality color on antique-style parchment, with a write-up on the backabout the the Friends of the Saline Valley Salt Tram organization and the person who made the donation of the stock certificate - they are $8 including shipping, which is our cost to print and mail them to you).     

Originally, I didn't have any images for this blog post, but wanted to put something up, so I went with this private ad that was run in the Inyo Register. I can't put my finger on the date it ran (although I do have the date somewhere), but it was somewhere in the  Salt Tram construction time period, since the ad indicates that the tramway was still being built: (click to enlarge)

************click to go to SALT TRAM HOME************


  1. I am confused. The Saline Valley Salt Company stock certificate I donated says the company was incorporated in Arizona on 16 June 1903. Was this an Arizona company or a California company, or both? Dorothy

  2. Dorothy, as far as we know, the Saline Valley Salt Company was incorporated in Arizona for the simple reason that these things are done today: the company is incorporated in the state the provides the lowest fees/taxes and the least oversight of the company and its board. Many companies in the US are incorporated the Cayman islands for the same reason. No none connection to Arizona for White Smith and his cronies - that we know of. The Inyo Register notes the SVSC board would travel to Arizona for SVSC board meetings. No operations for the SVSC in Arizona that I know of. Good question.

  3. Hi Tim & Brian

    The stock certificates arrived today. They look great. I like the write-up on the back side it adds a nice touch to the certificate. I am putting the check in the mail in the morning. You should have it by Monday.

    Best Regards

  4. Hi Bob, glad you like it! We were fortunate that Dorothy sent it out to get scanned, and the graphics company "repaired" the damage in photoshop that resulted from the certificate being folded in thirds and stored that way (the damage was to the area of the folds). I had no idea that they repaired the image in photoshop until I was able to view the stock certificate in person at the Eastern California Museum in Independence.

    I'll be bringing a pile of them to Panamint Springs Resort for Thanksgiving next week if anyone else is interested in obtaining a copy.

    PS - Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Thanks Tim, looking forward to getting a copy of that certificate. Hope
    to one day get on an Inyo trip with you. I'm focused on overseas travel
    these days so thats keeping away from the Inyos for awhile. Steve

  7. I have a couple of these original stock certificates. Howdo I go about finding out what they are worth?

  8. Gannon, these types of items are usually sold at Western Auction Houses or on EBay. I'm curious to find out more about them. Please contact me at

    and I'd be happy to discuss it with you further, if you are interested.


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Jonathan, I am still interested in the Saline Valley Salt Company stock certificate. Please contact me at this email to discuss further:

      We would still be interested in acquiring the Certificate and then donate it to the Eastern California Museum.

      I called your 706 629 0024 phone number today and it was disconnected.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. I have a certificate for 500 shares at 1.00 a piece what might be the value of the certificate today?

  11. Call me or email me and I would be happy to discuss with you.


  13. my number is 706 629 0024

  14. I have a stock certificate from The Saline Vallen Salt Company for 100 shares dated December 19,m 1920. It was my grandmothers. Is this something you would be interested in?

  15. On Jan 11, 2013, at 9:55 AM, Judy S. wrote:

    Hi Tim: Yes my stock certificate looks like this. Does it have any monetary value? I may just keep it for my family if they have any interest in it. Otherwise I am happy to give it to the museum if there is no monetary value attached to it. Thanks for getting back to me. Judy Seymour

    From: Tim Waag []
    Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2013 11:15 PM
    Subject: re: Stock Certificate

    I have a stock certificate from The Saline Vallen Salt Company for 100 shares dated December 19,m 1920. It was my grandmothers. Is this something you would be interested in?

    Yes, it is. I can be reached on my cell phone at 805-xxx-xxxx.
    Please call me back. We are interested in acquiring the stock
    certificate in order to donate it to the Eastern California Museum
    in Independence, California.

    Below is the first stock certificate that is known to still exist.
    Is yours like that one?

    1. Hi Judy, I am still interested in your Saline Valley Stock Certificate.
      Please contact me at the phone numbers that I emailed to you at


  16. We have stock number 971 for 500 shares dated in December 1911

    1. Awesome. As you know, we are always interested in acquiring Saline Valley Stock Certificates for the Eastern California Museum, as well as finding out more about who purchased the stock, and how it came to be in your possession. Please feel free to contact me at 805-440-9144 Thanks for Sharing this information! --Tim Waag