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Finding Aid of the Mineral King Development records 0037
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Historical Background
  • Acquisition
  • Scope and Content
  • Processing Note

  • Title: Mineral King Development records
    Collection number: 0037
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 1.0 linear ft. 1 box
    Date: 1963-1978
    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.
    creator: Henderson, Robert Arthur, 1925-
    creator: Koch, Jean
    creator: Koch, Richard, 1921-
    creator: McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael), 1934-

    Preferred Citation

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

    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.

    Related Archival Materials

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

    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.


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

    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.

    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).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California. Dept. of Fish and Game. -- Archives
    California. Fish and Game Commission. -- Archives
    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
    National Register of Historic Places. -- Archives
    National Wildlife Federation. -- Correspondence
    Sierra Club. -- Correspondence
    Sweigert, William T., 1900-1983 -- Archives
    United States. Forest Service. -- Correspondence
    United States. National Park Service. -- Archives
    Walt Disney Company. -- Archives
    Walt Disney Productions. -- Archives
    Bills, legislative--United States--Archival resources
    Disneyland (Calif.)--Archival resources
    Environmental impact statements
    Environmental policy--California--Archival resources
    Environmental policy--Citizen participation--Archival resources
    Environmental protection--California--Archival resources
    Environmental sciences--California--Archival resources
    Environmentalists--Archival resources
    Mineral King (Calif.)--Archival resources
    Mineral King Valley (Calif.)--Archival resources
    National parks and reserves--Law and legislation--California--Archival resources
    Press releases
    Sequoia National Forest (Calif.)--Archival resources
    Sequoia National Park (Calif.)--Archival resources
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)--Archival resources
    Ski resorts--California--Archival resources
    Tulare County (Calif.)--Archival resources
    Uncovering California's Environmental Collections Project