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The Road to Historic Designation


The Mineral King valley today

The Modern Era: 1940-1980

The last attempt to bring more of the Mineral King community under private ownership fails. War years bring a slow deterioration of the buildings. Conservationists dream of returning the valley to prehistoric wilderness. The Forest Service plans for a ski resort . While controversy rages over wilderness vs development concepts, the Mineral King community cleans up its structures and joins the fray to try to keep its historic buildings intact. Mineral King is taken into the Park. Its historic community once again is threatened with destruction.

The decision came quickly in 1940. Because Elsie and Alice Crowley could not prove there was a working mill site on the Cherokee claim, their application for title to the land was denied. The cabins on the property would remain under Forest Service lease for the next 38 years.

The early 1940s continued quiet times. World War II created travel restrictions, men were away on duty, and once again Mineral King become a town mostly of women and children. The cabins began to show signs of neglect. Even the resort buildings received only minimal care.

The apparent deterioration of the community coincided with a growing national emphasis on natural conservation. It also coincided with a renewed interest in the commercial potentials of Mineral King.

While the Sierra Club and other conservation groups began to spread the perception of Mineral King as a "defacto wilderness", the Forest Service moved forward with studies to develop the valley into a modern winter and summer resort. Both conservationists and the Forest Service developed plans for elimination of the historic community.

While surveys, resort planning, litigation and legislative efforts reached the scope of a national controversy, the Mineral King community quietly repaired, painted and cleaned up its buildings. Other than deterioration of the surrounding ecosystems due to a greatly increased visitor usage, Mineral King remained basically as it had been since its inception as a recreational community in the 1880s. Its structures continued to retain their historical integrity.

In 1965, the Mineral King District Association was formed to attempt to protect the community from continued threats of its destruction. In 1972, the Association joined the Sierra Club in its lawsuit against resort development and helped lobby for inclusion into the National Park System.

When the valley was taken into Sequoia National Park in 1978, to the dismay of the residents its historical buildings once again were threatened. A clause was contained in the inclusion law that specified the cabin permits would not be extended beyond the life time of current permittees of record. Not only were leases now required by law to be terminated, but the Park set a policy that the unleased cabins were to be torn down.

A long standing National Park Service policy of divesting itself of all private holdings within its domains was now threatening destruction of one of the most unique historic sites in the Sierra Nevada, in California, in the entire nation.

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