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Finding Aid of the Mineral King Development records

Finding aid prepared by Jacqueline Morin, 2011

Processing of this collection was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program.

Summary Information

Repository
USC Libraries Special Collections
Creator
Henderson, Robert Arthur, 1925-
Creator
Koch, Jean
Creator
Koch, Richard, 1921-
Creator
McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael), 1934-
Title
Mineral King Development records
Collection no.
0037
Date
1963-1978
Extent
1.0 linear ft., 1 box
Language
English
Abstract
The collection consists of environmental reports, correspondence, scrapbooks, and other ephemera pertaining to the controversial 1960s development of a 16,000 acre tract of the Sequoia National Forest in Tulare County, California. The materials were created and collected by conservation activists Jean and Richard Koch.

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Mineral King Development Records, Collection no. 0037, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

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Historical Background

Mineral King is a glacial valley in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, only 7 1/2 square miles in size and one of the oldest communities in the High Sierras. At one time, the area had been occupied by two Native American tribes-- the Wikchumni Yokut and the Tubatulabel-- who created summer settlements on the valley floor primarily for hunting and trading with the Paiutes, who lived east of the Sierra Nevada.

In the 1860s, the first Americans of European descent discovered the valley while building a toll trail from Visalia to Independence and began to mine for precious metals, leading to the discovery of silver in the Mineral King Valley in 1872. Following the discovery, the first road to Mineral King was created in 1873 by the Mineral King Wagon and Toll Road Company. Over time, the minerals were found to be unprofitable to extract from their ore, but the valley kept its hopeful name: Mineral King.

Mineral King had been part of Sequoia National Forest since 1926, and in the late 1940s the United States Forest Service began to give consideration to Mineral King as a potential site for recreational development. Prodded by a rapidly increasing demand for ski facilities, the Forest Service published a prospectus in 1965, inviting bids from private developers for the construction and operation of a ski resort that would also serve as a summer recreation area. The proposal of Walt Disney Enterprises, Inc. was chosen from those of six bidders, and Disney received a three-year permit to conduct surveys and explorations in the valley in connection with its preparation of a complete master plan for the resort.

The final Disney plan, approved by the Forest Service in January 1969 (and supported by Governor Ronald Reagan, a friend of Walt Disney), outlined a $35 million complex of motels, restaurants, swimming pools, parking lots, and other structures designed to accommodate 14,000 visitors daily. The complex was to be constructed on 80 acres of the valley floor under a 30-year use permit from the Forest Service. Other facilities, including ski lifts, ski trails, a cog-assisted railway, and utility installations, were to be constructed on the mountain slopes and in other parts of the valley under a revocable special-use permit. To provide access to the resort, the state of California proposed to construct a highway 20 miles in length. A section of that road would have traversed Sequoia National Park, as would have a proposed high-voltage power line needed to provide electricity for the resort.

In June 1969 the Sierra Club filed a Federal suit in the Northern District of California court to attempt to stop the project. The court issued a temporary injunction the following month which blocked implementation of the Forest Service/ Disney development plan for the basin for three full years before the U.S. Supreme Court finally addressed the Sierra Club's lawsuit. (Disney had anticipated opening the resort in 1970 or 1971.) In an April 1972 decision, the Court rejected the suit on the grounds that the Sierra Club had not established that it was suffering direct harm as a result of the Forest Service's actions.

In June the Sierra Club filed an amended suit; soon public opposition to Mineral King development began to increase in an era of unparalleled environmental awareness and activism. After years of legal battles between pro-development and preservationist groups, the Mineral King Valley was annexed into Sequoia National Park in 1978 by an act of Congress. That legislation effectively stopped the plan to ever develop the area into a ski resort.

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Scope and Content

The Mineral King Development records consist of two boxes of files and ephemera pertaining to the controversial proposed development of the Mineral King valley by Disney Enterprises, Inc. The files were kept by activists Dr. Richard and Jean Koch, chiefly the latter. Nearly a third of the collection is comprised of correspondence, mostly between the Koches and government or media entities. The remainder of the collection consists of articles, testimonies, clippings, news releases, environmental impact reports, etc. concerning the lengthy battle over the status of Mineral King.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
2011
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189
213-740-5900
specol@usc.edu

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Acquisition

The collection was acquired by USC in 1997 from Dr. and Mrs. Richard Koch.

Processing Note

Processing of the Mineral King Development records was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). USC Libraries was awarded a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from 2010-2012, "Uncovering California's Environmental Collections," in collaboration with eight additional special collections and archival repositories throughout the state and the California Digital Library (CDL). Grant objectives included processing of over 33 hidden collections related to the state's environment and environmental history. The collections document an array of important sub-topics such as irrigation, mining, forestry, agriculture, industry, land use, activism, and research. Together they form a multifaceted picture of the natural world and the way it was probed, altered, exploited and protected in California over the twentieth century. Finding aids are made available through the Online Archive of California (OAC).

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials

Mineral King Collection, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • California. Dept. of Fish and Game. -- Archives
  • California. Fish and Game Commission. -- Archives
  • National Register of Historic Places. -- Archives
  • National Wildlife Federation. -- Correspondence
  • Sierra Club. -- Correspondence
  • United States. Forest Service. -- Correspondence
  • United States. National Park Service. -- Archives
  • Walt Disney Company. -- Archives
  • Walt Disney Productions. -- Archives

Title(s)

  • Uncovering California's Environmental Collections Project

Genre(s)

  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Environmental impact statements
  • Memorandums
  • Newsletters
  • Pamphlets
  • Periodicals
  • Press releases
  • Reports
  • Scrapbooks
  • Speeches

Geographic Name(s)

  • Disneyland (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Mineral King (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Mineral King Valley (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Sequoia National Forest (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Sequoia National Park (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)--Archival resources
  • Tulare County (Calif.)--Archival resources

Personal Name(s)

  • Cranston, Alan, 1914-2000 -- Archives
  • Koch, Jean
  • Koch, Jean -- Archives
  • Koch, Richard, 1921-
  • Koch, Richard, 1921- -- Archives
  • McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael), 1934- -- Archives
  • Muir, John, 1838-1914 -- Archives
  • Sweigert, William T., 1900-1983 -- Archives

Subject(s)

  • Bills, Legislative--United States--Archival resources
  • Environmental policy--California--Archival resources
  • Environmental policy--Citizen participation--Archival resources
  • Environmental protection--California--Archival resources
  • Environmental sciences--California--Archival resources
  • Environmentalists--Archival resources
  • National parks and reserves--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
  • Ski resorts--California--Archival resources

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Collection Inventory

Series 1:  Personal Papers 

 Correspondence-- Originals 1965-1978 

Scope and Content

This subseries consists of five folders of correspondence kept by Dr. and Mrs. Koch-- mainly with government officials, environmental grouups such as the National Wildlife Federation, and the press. Most of the letters are pleas to understand the plight of the Mineral King valley during the years in which Disney Productions was attempting to obtain the land to build a resort. There is much corrspondence between Mrs. Koch and the National Wildlife Federation concerning the latter's stance on the proposed Mineral King development.

Box
1
Folder
1-5

 Correspondence--Photocopies 1965-1978 

Scope and Content

This subseries is comprised of three folders of photocopies of letters from many individuals as well as corporate and government entities. Represented in this series are letters detailing the controversy over the development of Mineral King from the Sierra Club, Walt Disney Productions, the U.S. Senate, the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Forest Service, etc.

Box
1
Folder
6-8

 Memoranda 1965-1978 

Box
1
Folder
9

 Periodicals 1967-1977 

Scope and Content

The two folders in this subseries contain magazines and articles from magazines regarding the Mineral King controversy. Complete magazines include the March 1972 issue of Harper's Magazine, the January 1967 issue of  Western Ski Time, and two issues of  The Sierra Club Bulletin (October 1973 and March 1974). Articles and photocopies of articles come from  The Sierra Club Bulletin,  Natural History Magazine,  The New York Times Magazine,  Ramparts,   Reader's Digest,  Defenders of Wildlife News,  Econometrica,   Desert,  Harper's Magazine, and  Journal of Forest History.

Box
1
Folder
10-11

 Pamphlets and Guides 1963 

Scope and Content

One folder comprises this subseries, with two slightly different copies of a leaflet called "Mineral King: The Place, the Issue, the Challenge" and two copies of a booklet called Mineral King Guide by Pat Adler. The two copies of the booklet are dated 1963 and 1975 (revised).

Box
1
Folder
12

 Speeches, Transcripts & Editorials 1967-1973 

Scope and Content

This subseries contains two folders of typed, handwritten, and photocopied speeches, transcripts, and various editorials from entities such as the Sierra Club, KABC TV, Jean Koch (for the Mineral King Task Force), The Mineral King District Association, Walt Disney Productions, and Congressman Jerome R. Waldie (supporting a march on Disneyland in 1973). There is also a letter/petition from a Fred M. Wilkins to Fred Eissler (Sierra Club director from 1963 to 1969) imploring him to do whatever he can "to stop this monstrous [Disney] project.

Box
1
Folder
13-14

 Enviornmental Impact Statement-- Comments 1975-1976 

Scope and Content

These two folders contain articles and comments regarding the March 1975 draft of an enviromental impact statement on the proposed Mineral King development. All comments are addressed to Douglas R. Leisz, Regional Forester [San Francisco] since it was the U.S. Forest Service which published the Draft Environmental Statement. There are several copies of the comments of Michael R. Asay, an economist at the University of Southern California, as well as letters from Claire T. Dedrick (Secretary for Resources under California governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.), from Roger Gymer for the Environmental Information Council, Richard and Jean Koch, and several others. (The actual Draft Environmental Statement and the Final Environmental Statement are in Box 2.)

Box
1
Folder
15-16

 Newspaper clippings 1969 

Scope and Content

This small subseries includes two newspaper clippings mentioning Jean Koch--one of them unrelated to the Mineral King controversy-- and two photocopies of newspaper articles from the Visalia Times-Delta (1969 and 1975) regarding Mineral King, Silver City, and the Disney project.

Box
1
Folder
17

 Summary and Background 

Scope and Content

The first folder in this subseries contains what appears to be the typed draft of a book-length manuscript on Mineral King, though the author is not stated anywhere in the draft. The material provides useful background information on the cultural and physical history of Mineral King as well as details of the Disney project controversy and litigation.

The second folder contains flyers and other typed and printed information on Mineral King, including the controversy over the proposed Disney project. One eight-page manuscript--probably intended as a pamphlet-- is titled "Mineral King: National Game Refuge or Disney Wonderland?" and was authored by the Mineral King Task Force of the Sierra Club in 1970. Much of the information in many of the flyers and intended pamphlets appears to have come from Pat Adler's "Mineral King Guide." (The actual guide is in Folder 12.)

Box
1
Folder
18-19

 Bound volumes 

Box

 Mineral King: Final Environmental Statement 1976 February 26 

Scope and Content

Approximately 600 pages in length, the Final Environmental Statement of the Mineral King Recreational Development was published in February 1976 by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 5, Sequoia National Forest. The first 285 pages contain the actual Statement, conclusion, and bibliography; the remainder is the appendices.

2

 Mineral King: Draft Environmental Statement 1974 December 30 

Scope and Content

The Draft Environmental Statement Mineral King Recreation Development is a spiral-bound volume of approximately 300 pages published by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Region 5, Sequoia National Forest, on December 30, 1974. Comments on the draft are included in Folders 15 and 16.

2
Box Folder

 Mineral King Study Group 1973 July 

Scope and Content

This bound volume is comprised of a series of reports and articles compiled by ten Environmental Studies students from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1973. In the Introduction to the volume, they are referred to as the Mineral King Study Group. This group, under the guidance of Penelope N. Campbell and Dr. Orrin Sage, conducted a six-month study to determine the optimum use of the Mineral King area by exploring the surrounding controversy. The manuscripts include a history of Mineral King and reports on geology, flora and fauna, population, recreational demand, and the government officials and agencies concerned with the development of Mineral King.

1 20

 Scrapbooks 1964-1976 

Scope and Content

The scrapbooks are actually four 3-ring binders dating from April 1964 to approximately August 1976. All of them consist of newspaper clippings pasted onto notebook paper and pertain to the Mineral King development controversy and related issues.

Box
1

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Series 2:  Business Activities 

 News Releases 1967-1977 

Scope and Content

This folder consists of several news releases issued between 1967 and 1977 pertaining to the proposed development of Mineral King. The releases were issued from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Sierra Club, Congressman Jerome R. Waldie, and California Assemblyman Alan Sieroty.

Box
1
Folder
21

 News and Newsletters 1965-1978 

Scope and Content

There are a few newsletters of the Mineral King District Association in this folder; however, most of the newsletters are those of the Sierra Club's Mineral King Task Force.

Box
1
Folder
22

 Publicity 1968-1973 

Scope and Content

Much of the contents in this folder consists of flyers regarding a "March on Disneyland" in 1969, a screening of a documentary film on Mineral King in 1972, and a Mineral King "Hike-In" in 1968.

Box
1
Folder
23

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Series 3:  Government Activities 

 Testimony 1976-1978 

Scope and Content

This folder contains material pertaining to testimonies and depositions on the Mineral King controversy and includes information from the Subcommittee on National Parks and Insular Affairs, Sierra Club's Mineral King Task Force, the Desomount Club, Skiers to Keep Mineral King Natural, and various individuals commenting on a variety of bills and resolutions introduced between 1976 and 1978.

Box
1
Folder
24

 Bills 1967-1977 

Scope and Content

This folder contains the text of a number of bills introduced between 1967 and 1977 including the following:

H.R. 9629: To transfer the Sequoia National Game Refuge to Sequoia National Park (1967)

H.R. 16331, H.R. 3089, H.R. 5272, H.R. 5752, H.R. 6823, H.R. 6882: To enlarge the Sequoia National Park in the State of California (1972, 1973, 1975)

S. 3322, H.R. 13280, H.R. 4354: To enlarge the Sequoia National Park in the State of California by adding to such park the Mineral King Valley area, to provide for certain planning respecting the management of such addition, and for other purposes (1976, 1977)

Box
1
Folder
25

 Government Publications 1964-1977 

Scope and Content

Several of the items in this folder are publications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including a booklet called Mineral King: A Planned Recreation Development (1969) and a sample "Prospectus for a proposed Recreational Development at Mineral King in the Sequoia National Forest" (1965).

Box
1
Folder
26

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Series 4:  Miscellany 1967-1977 

Scope and Content

This slim folder includes several miscellaneous items such as a California Highway Commission "Route Adoption Report" (1967), nine completed handwritten public surveys on Mineral King, a typed bibliography on Mineral King, a couple of maps that show where Mineral King is in Sequoia National Forest, a Walt Disney Productions "Notice of Annual Meeting of Stockholders" (1972), etc.

Box
1
Folder
27

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