On the way to the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park (see previous article) is an intersection of two dirt roads commonly known as Teakettle Junction. The origin of its name is lost to history but its legacy lives on with ever-changing teakettles. Where do these teakettles come from? And where do they go when replaced?
The most recent year of sign and kettle replacement by the National Park Service was 2011. Until then (and since then) visitors added teakettles to the junction, as the name implies. Just like the question of the chicken or the egg, it is hard to say what came first, the kettle or the junction. Whichever it is, it makes for an interesting stop on the washboard road that is quite hard to miss. Today, each kettle has its own meaning and artistic expression and most come with messages for the next visitors to come, either written on the outside of the kettle or left in a note inside of it.
Just as new kettles are placed at the junction by visitors, old kettles may be removed in the same manner. According to Cheryl Shipman from Death Valley National Park, the old kettles “are generally collected by visitors” or they may be removed and discarded by park rangers as “they are considered abandoned property.” So next time you head out to the Racetrack, remember to think about the teakettle.