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The Road to Historic Designation


1911 Mineral King Store & Post Office

The Middle Years: 1916-1940

Creation of the National Forest Service in 1907 and of the National Park Service in 1916 create permit systems for lease holders, concessionaires and private business that limit their activities and rights to usage of historic buildings. Attempts to bring the Mineral King area into Sequoia National Park fail. An attempt to bring more of the Mineral King community under private ownership also fails. In 1939, one last attempt for private ownership is made.

In 1907, creation of National Forests to replace the Forest Reserve system began a new era of restrictions and preservation concerns. By 1910, permits were required in Sequoia National Forest for any commercial activity. By 1915, the Term Occupancy Act required permits for summer home building and occupancy. With creation of the National Park Service in 1916, all national parks were by policy to exclude private lands within their boundaries. By 1918, the Park Service was directed not to issue any new summer home permits at all.

With fears of growing government interference in their community affairs, Judge W. B. Wallace, Arthur Crowley and J.W. Crowley, filed a claim on the Cherokee Mill site each year. On that mill site just happened to sit ten or twelve cabins of the Mineral King community. In 1917, their claim was declared null and void due to a lack of any mill on the property. The men appealed the decision, but lost.

Fears of loss of their community rights were assuaged by the 1924 survey that permitted enlargement of the community. The township grew and prospered, upgrading its buildings as changing county and forest service regulations demanded.

Still, throughout the years, there was a sense of unease. The park, with its emphasis on natural conservation, continued its efforts to bring the Mineral King area under its jurisdiction. Between 1911 and 1926, the Sierra Club, along with the National Geographic Society and other organizations increasingly strengthened efforts to enlarge Sequoia National Park. Both in 1920 and 1921, congressional bills were introduced to expand its boundaries. Finally, in 1926, the efforts bore partial fruit. Sequoia was enlarged by 350 square miles. To the chagrin of park enthusiasts and relief of the mountain community, once again Mineral King was left under Forest Service supervision, this time as a National Game Refuge.

For the next forty years, Mineral King was allowed to mature quietly in its long-term role as one of the oldest continually occupied recreational communities in the Sierra Nevada mountains. If the Historic Sites Act of 1935, which states "...it is a national policy to preserve for public use historic sites, buildings and objects of national significance for the inspiration and benefit of the people of the United States...", had any meaning to the residents of Mineral King, it was to assure them that preservation was important and that their special community must be safeguarded.

Even so, there continued to be concerns and doubts. Enough so that in 1939, Elsie and Alice Crowley, daughters of the deceased Arthur, once again opened proceedings to bring the old Cherokee Mill Site with its growing complex of cabins under the umbrella of private ownership.

Next: The Modern Era: 1940-1980

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