Trona, a town in San Bernardino County, California, corresponds to the census-designated place (CDP) known as Searles Valley. Trona is at the western edge of Searles Lake, a dry lakebed at the bottom of in Searles Valley, southwest of Death Valley. The town takes its name from the mineral trona, abundant in the lake. It is about 170 miles northeast of Los Angeles, on California State Route 178. As of the 2000 census the CDP's population was 1,885. The ZIP code is 93562.
Trona was officially established in 1913, as a self-contained company town, wholly operated by its resident mining company to house employees. Employees were paid in company scrip instead of cash. The mining company also built a library, a scrip-accepting for-profit grocery store, a school, basic housing, and minimal recreation facilities. The Trona Railway was built in 1913-14 to provide the town with a rail connection to the Southern Pacific (now the Union Pacific) line at Searles. The railway still operates today.
Economic booms and busts followed. Its most notable boom occurred during World War I, when Trona was the only reliable American source of potash, an important element used in the production of gunpowder.
Today, Searles Valley Minerals Inc.'s soda ash processing plant remains the largest firm in town. Other operations nearby include evaporative salt extraction from the playa surface, and a lime quarry. Searles Valley Minerals is the largest employer in Trona, and many employees live in Ridgecrest, California, commuting daily to Trona.
Trona (Searles Valley CDP) is located at GR1.(35.765181, -117.382803)
The same collection of geologic forces which created the Searles Valley where Trona sits, also created the natural resource of Searles Dry Lake, which contains rich deposits of chemicals, including 98 of the 104 known naturally-occurring chemical elements.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 1,885 people, 738 households, and 495 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 61.9/km² (160.5/mi²). There were 1,051 housing units at an average density of 34.5/km² (89.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 86.26% White, 1.54% African American, 2.39% Native American, 0.69% Asian, 0.42% Pacific Islander, 4.99% from other races, and 3.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.18% of the population.
There were 738 households out of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.16.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 30.9% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 104.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.1 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $35,833, and the median income for a family was $37,143. Males had a median income of $44,397 versus $35,625 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $16,861. About 18.2% of families and 21.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.0% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.
A Mountain Monogram "T" sits on the hills above Trona.