Take the photo above, which shows a portion of the eastern edge of the Tehachapi Wind Farm. How many turbines are in just this one picture? There are about 5,000 windmills in the entire field, and it is actually only the second-largest complex in California (the Altamont in the Bay Area is larger with 7,000; San Gorgonio Pass has 3,000). Tehachapi Pass is one of the consistently windiest places in the world, and utilities are trying to wring out every last bit of energy from the breezes. It provides enough electricity to power 350,000 residential units. It is an eerie sight to see them all in motion.
Five small mountain ranges rise through the sediments near the town of Mojave, and they mostly expose Tertiary (Neogene) volcanic rocks resting on older Mesozoic granitic rocks. Superheated water moving through fractures and faults in the rock deposited gold, silver and other valuable ores. We passed one of the richest of the mines first (above), the Golden Queen. It was discovered in 1894, and ultimately produced around $10,000,000 of gold (figured with gold at $20-$36 dollars per ounce; consider this to be equal to maybe $350-400 million at today's prices).
It strikes me that somebody got rich by mining these deposits, but there isn't much anyone can do with the landscape anymore. That's one of the choices we make as a society, assigning the value of one land-use over another.
2013 is the centennial celebration of the completion of the project). The aqueduct is 223 miles long, and takes water from the Owens Valley and eastern Sierra Nevada to the San Fernando Valley using gravity to move most of the water at a capacity of just over 400 cubic feet per second. It is a seriously redirected river. It provides around half of the water used in Los Angeles. The story by which this all came about is the stuff of drama (it played a central role in the movie "Chinatown", for instance) and heartache and economic ruin for many people . One of the many choices that were made in this instance of history was the destruction of a large agricultural region in the Owens Valley.
I didn't actually notice when we crossed the aqueduct, as it is mostly in a buried pipeline in this area along Willow Springs-Tehachapi Road. I borrowed the photo below from Wikipedia (source here).
One final note about the Mojave area. It's also a dumping ground. Have you ever wondered where old airliners go to die (or to be mothballed or sold to third-world country's airlines)? They go to Mojave Airport to be long-term parked (and you thought only cars get put into long-term parking at airports). The GoogleEarth image below shows part of the parking lot. I've heard (but cannot confirm) that it is cheaper to park a plane here than it is to park a car in some parts of San Francisco.