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Although the ice sheets and glaciers did not come this far south, their run-off during the warming periods filled many of today's dry lakes and basins.
Other forces of nature were at work on the more ancient China Ranch lake bed.Minor uplifting occurred in some areas, while other portions of the sediment settled and dropped.Sometime between 1 million and a half million years ago nearby Lake Tecopa, which was the terminus of the Amargosa River, was breached.The resulting flow carved the dramatic Amargosa Canyon 1 mile to the south, and steepened the drainage from the China Ranch area.This cabin was an assay office for mining companies in the area from 1900 until about 1920.The companies were looking for deposits of nitrate salts in the ancient lakebed sedimentsfor use in the production of explosives.
Later, it was rumored to have been used as botha residence and a saloon.
About 12 million years before the present, the area in and around China Ranch was a landlocked basin, much like one of today's dry lakes.
For the next three million years it was intermittently dry then filled, catching the run-off and sediment for the surrounding mountains.
Over the eons more than one thousand vertical feet of sediment collected in the basin.
Camel-like creatures and other large mammals browsed at its marshy edges, where thick reeds and grasses grew.
Like much of North America, today's Mojave Desert was influenced by the forward movement and retreat of successive ice ages over the next several million years.