Mineral King Development records
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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.
- Creation: 1963-1978
- McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael) (Person)
- Koch, Richard (Person)
- Henderson, Robert Arthur (Person)
- Koch, Jean (Person)
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.
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.
2 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
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.
The collection was acquired by USC in 1997 from Dr. and Mrs. Richard Koch.
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).
- Walt Disney Company -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- Koch, Jean -- Archives (Person)
- Koch, Richard -- Archives (Person)
- Cranston, Alan -- Archives (Person)
- United States. National Park Service -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- California. Dept. of Fish and Game -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- California. Fish and Game Commission -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- Muir, John -- Archives (Person)
- Sierra Club -- Correspondence (Corporate Entity)
- National Register of Historic Places -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- Sweigert, William T. -- Archives (Person)
- McCloskey, J. Michael (John Michael) -- Archives (Person)
- National Wildlife Federation -- Correspondence (Corporate Entity)
- Walt Disney Productions -- Archives (Corporate Entity)
- United States. Forest Service -- Correspondence (Corporate Entity)
Genre / Form
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Environmental impact statements
- Press releases
- 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
- 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
- Finding Aid of the Mineral King Development records
- Jacqueline Morin
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- 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.
Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States