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Why the Mineral King Community is Unique

The Mineral King stage at the store in the early 1900s.


  • Mineral King is one of the oldest high mountain communities in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Summer occupancy dates to over 3,000 years ago. Modern usage dates to 1862. Presently occupied buildings date to the 1890s and early 1900s.
  • Unlike many historic sites in the high Sierra Nevada, it never has and does not now lie within a designated wilderness area. For well over a century it has been trapped, hunted, grazed, lumbered, mined and made into a resort and recreation area. Today, the valley is heavily trafficked as a campground and trailhead destination.
  • It is served by one of the oldest and longest access roads in the Southern Sierra Nevada. First constructed in 1874 and 1879, the present narrow, winding, twenty-five mile road follows much of the original historic route. This public thoroughfare has provided a heavily used access route to the valley for well over a century.
  • Unlike many deserted western historic sites, Mineral King is a living community. It has been continuously occupied for over 130 years. The structures are tended by caretakers who have a long-term knowledge of the community and valley and their needs.
  • It provides stewardship. The community plays a dominant role in protection of the valley. It creates stability and responsibility in an otherwise itinerant, recreational, roads-end environment. It provides documented aid, education and guidance to visitors in the isolated valley. Its residents act as caretakers of priceless natural and historical sites.
  • It defines the role of western cultural identity for future generations. It represents the growth and historical continuity of America's community values. In the young western lands, it is a rare living example of cultural stability.
  • It provides a basis for educational and scientific study. Because of its historic blending of natural and cultural usages, the valley area is an outstanding classroom. The community creates an indispensable core of resources and knowledge for all educational and scientific pursuits.
  • It helps to fulfill National Park Service missions, guidelines and goals. The Mineral King community's living character helps to fulfill the current National Park Service emphasis on historic preservation and education. Its presence broadens the scope of recreation beyond campers, hikers and concession facility consumers and provides a stable basis for conservation practices.
  • It provides leadership. Its continuing presence sets standards for the preservation, care, maintenance and responsibilities of all our nation's historic mountain communities situated on government lands.

Next: Fulfilling the National Park Service Goals

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