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The Mineral King Road Corridor Milk Ranch and Oriole Lake Oak Grove Cain's Flat The Flume The New Road River Hill Grade Red Hill Hammond The Trip Up the Road Britten's The Way to Mineral King The Pioneers The First Campers



Foundations of old buildings at Oak Grove.


Modern pasture at Oak Grove where Mineral King Pack Station wintered in recent years.

 

Oak Grove

In 1898, Albert O. and Mollie Griffes with their son, Freddie, took up a homestead that straddled the Mineral King Wagon road just beyond Cain’s Flat. A grove of oak trees provided a shady resting area at the end of the River Hill grade and the Griffes’ started catering to travelers’ needs. After the alignment of the road was changed to the south side of the canyon in 1918, their ranch still lay on the road above the bridge that crossed the river.


A grove of Oak trees provided a shady resting area at the end of the River Hill Grade.

“Here, at the intake of the flume, the Griffes’ raised practically everything they needed for food,” Alice Crowley wrote in a description of the trip up the old wagon road. “Beautiful and delicious vegetables, fruits, berries, even white black berries.

“Mrs. Griffes [known as Aunt Mollie] served meals to travelers and such meals as they were! She was famous for her breakfasts; meat, sausage, bacon, eggs, home-made bread, home-made jams, cream thick enough to cut, home-churned butter, real milk, cake, pie, coffee. It is hard to believe, but that was breakfast…After evening meals they took part in the mountain tales and the mountain gossip their guests enjoyed listening to.”

The Griffes home also provided lodging for travelers and Mollie tended a fruit and vegetable stand by the roadside. Albert, who was a blacksmith, fashioned all the metal work on the Mt. Whitney Power Company flume between Oak Grove and Hammond.

As a boy, their son Freddie helped on the 80 acre ranch, hunted game, and in some winters, “boarded-out” with families down the road in order to attend the local school in Three Rivers.

During the construction of the 1915-1918 automobile road from Red Hill, a road camp was set up at Oak Grove. After automobiles started chugging their way up the grade, a gasoline pump was installed by the side of the road which Freddie tended. In 1918, at the age of 24, he took the job as flume walker for the power company, a job which lasted 41 years.

In 1959, Fred’s wife, Ruby, became ill. They sold the ranch and moved closer to Three Rivers, to a house at the top of Red Hill. In recent years the Oak Grove ranch was the winter base for Mineral King Pack Station owner Don Biddel. In 2003, it changed hands again.

(CREDITS: “Heading for the Hills” by Alice Crowley Jackson; “Cox and Symons couple purchase Oak Grave Home”, Visalia Times Delta, April 23, 1959; “F.E. ‘Freddie’ Griffes 74 years Resident of Three Rivers Area,” Sequoia Sentinel, July 28, 1972. Photos from Jackson files. Compilation by Louise Jackson. Webmaster, Jill Brown.)

The Mineral King Road Corridor: Historic Points of Interest
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