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History of the Living History Community

The Modern Cabin Community: 1891-1914

Since 1873, Mineral King has been supported by its thriving cabin community. There were times when weather, heavy snows, earthquakes, avalanches and periods of economic hardship created a decline in cabin usage. But always, there were the regulars who coped and made-do, who patched, mucked out, created new buildings from fallen structures, and kept the community alive.

Pre 1906 Mineral King Resort

Nothing was wasted. Recycling of materials was a way of life in the building and upkeep of the Mineral King cabin community. Where a new structure was erected often depended on the availability of near-by materials. Most often, an existing structure was modified or added onto. Many of the cabins in use today can boast of some element or pieces of material that were incorporated into their design from buildings no longer in existence.

The lay-out of the community remained essentially as it had been since the origin of Beulah and the first surveyed town plat drawn by the New England Tunnel and Smelting Company in 1875. At that time, public lands in the west were open to settlement and development with only a minimum of federal oversight. But with the formation of the Forest Reserves in 1891, not only regulations but their enforcement began to grow. By 1902, a permit system was well in force.

In August of 1903, the first known permit for cabin usage was issued in Mineral King. The Department of Interior consented to the continued occupancy and use by Arthur Crowley “… of certain cabins and houses at what is known as the Mineral King Resort… this privilege is allowed by the Department with the understanding that the permit is granted for a period within the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior.”

With the formation of the National Forest Service in 1905, Chief Gifford Pinchot formally added summer residences to the list of uses for which permits could be issued. All buildings in Mineral King now fell under the permit system. Even the Mineral King water system was granted one. 

The obtaining of a permit was not difficult. Throughout Forest lands, a potential permittee could simply request a permit for the land on which he or she wanted to build. With payment of a fee, the request almost always was granted.

The issuance of permits was complicated by the “San Francisco” earthquake in April of 1906. At that time, many of the Mineral King cabins were destroyed. But that destruction also triggered a reconstruction phase that laid a basis for the cabin community as we know it today.

Post 1906 Mineral King Resort

Some cabin owners abandoned the piles of rubble that confronted them while others took advantage by salvaging the materials for their own cabins or by renovating structures left unused. “Ownership” of lots and salvaged materials often was agreed upon through verbal negotiations and unrecorded agreements. Restructuring and clean-up of the destroyed buildings was a community effort that lasted several years.

All or portions of several existing cabins remain from that era. The Ham Moffet cabin was constructed in the avalanche-free territory of Atwell Mill in 1901. Several other cabins were built there after that, and Silver City also began to grow. In the valley, the Howard (Barboni) cabin was granted a permit to build in 1905. The Mixter (Fleek) cabin, an old miner’s cabin dating perhaps to the 1890s, was bought by Tom and Ollie Mixter in 1906. The Mt. Whitney Power Company (Robertson, Runciman-Polly) cabin also was built in that year. The Senter-Boone (Lowson) cabin was built in 1906 by Riley Senter, then rebuilt in 1907 after avalanche destruction.

The Tom Pogue (Jacobsen) cabin was erected in 1908 for a capitol expenditure of “$50 including stove”. In 1909, Phil and Grace Alles bought the Moffett cabin at Atwell Mill and the Campbell (Hart, Parks) cabin was built in the valley. In 1910, the Foreman (Botkin) cabin and Deitz-Crawford (Buckman) cabins arrived. And in 1912, the Samstag (John Dungan), Clawson (Hicks), and Pogue-Montgomery summer homes were built.

The rest of the community lived in old mining era buildings that no longer stand today. Or they camped out, sometimes for the entire summer, in the valley, at Atwell Mill, or at Silver City. In the spring of 1874, before the opening of the trail into the Mineral King Valley, several cabins had been built near the river below what we now call Silver City. When Floyd Cutler filed for a timber claim on 640 acres of land in the area, several of his friends and family enjoyed staying at the privately owned road community.

The progeny of all these pioneers continued to inhabit Mineral King. There were the Barton, Lovelace and Hengst families who had run cattle in the area since the early mining days and even before. There were several Pogues and Moffetts, the Sweets, Hines, Gibsons, Balaams and Dinelys, and other families whose children have continued to make the Mineral King area their summer retreat.

These people who occupied the homes and campsites lying outside Arthur Crowley’s resort at the turn of the century were the first families of the modern cabin community of Mineral King. They became the core of what exists today.

History of the Living Historic Community
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