About the MKDA

The Origin

The Mineral King District Association had its origin on August 16, 1965 with Kenneth (Milton) Savage, Jr. as acting president, and Ross D. Sellars as acting secretary-treasurer. The association was formed out of the need to represent the interests of the community to the National Forest Service (and other authorities).imageThe formation of the MKDA was spurred by the planned development of the Mineral King valley, whose probable outcome would have been a major resort. Most of the residents of the valley felt that its unique character would be lost, particularly when the scope of the chosen development was revealed-a dozen or more restaurants, more than a dozen ski lifts and a lodge capable of housing "more than the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles," promising thousands of visitors on a given day.

The District Association, along with other organizations, actively opposed the National Forest Service's plan. The valley was transferred to National Park Service jurisdiction by legislation in 1978, precluding implementation of that plan. We of the Mineral King District Association continue to seek the preservation of the valley's historic character and rich cultural resources.

The Families
As one of the longest-existing communities in the high Sierra Nevada, many families currently occupying rustic cabins represent the sixth and seventh generation of the original prospectors and entrepreneurs who came to Mineral King more than 100 years ago to seek their fortune. Communities with such longevity and continuity are rare and an extraordinary historical resource, particularly in our increasingly transient modem society.

imageIn order to understand the issues of Mineral King, it is helpful to understand something about the families and descendants who were instrumental in its foundation. Beginning in the late 1800s, diversity and the pioneering spirit prevailed. Entrepreneurs, stockers, miners, sawyers, teamsters and carpenters dominated early mining history. Dams and flumes for the Mt. Whitney Power and Electric Company (later acquired by Southern California Edison) hydroelectric project found laborers and freight handlers among Mineral King residents.

A family-run resort followed the failure of the mining industry, offering rental accommodations to the public. During the National Forest Service tenure, local ranger staff came from our families. Historic trails, blazed by Indians and miners, were improved by residents and other volunteers. The water system that supplies many of the cabins, campgrounds, and the Mineral King Ranger Station was built and maintained by cabin inhabitants. Even the "infamous," historic Mineral King road was painstakingly constructed by members of this community.n the early 1920s, the Forest Service solicited the building of cabins, which then were occupied by San Joaquin Valley farmers, ranchers, cattlemen and other professionals who found the Mineral King area a cool respite from the intense summer heat. Often the men continued to work in the San Joaquin Valley while their families resided in Mineral King during the summer months. In the 1930s there were an influx of academic and other professionals, thus the area named "Faculty Flats."


The Community
The historic community of Mineral King exists not only in the buildings, but also in the families who share them. Generations and extended families share limited cabin resources. Conversations, story telling, and the singing of the old songs passed on traditions which, for the most part, have been lost in California's transient and compartmentalized structure.

Interaction between cabins also has been prevalent for generations. Campfires, dinners, card and board games, and socializing prevail at gatherings. Although more formal, the annual meeting of the Mineral King District Association and the potluck following are opportunities for families to "catch up" on the year's news. National Park personnel also are included as a part of the annual agenda. Community interaction continually has extended to packers, hikers, campers and officials. Information, direction, and other practical help have been gladly rendered without cost or obligation.

The National Park Legacy"...to promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
 National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.

imageThe Partnership
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.The National Park Service has recognized the public's interest in Mineral King's history and has incorporated it into its literature and web sites. Ranger-led campfire talks, "living history" presentations with rangers impersonating some of the old mining characters, and hikes to historic sites have intrigued many a visitor. And on October 24, 2003 the Mineral King Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

With the ever-decreasing amount of public funds and the ever-increasing needs of our national parks, it is time to look for new and innovative strategies to achieve the goals of preserving and protecting our natural and cultural resources "in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment for future generations" (1916 NPS Organic Act). Throughout the country, the National Park Service is increasing its reliance on public/non-profit partnerships and volunteers to fulfill its responsibilities as our nation's natural and cultural trustee. Mineral King is in the fortunate position of already possessing a dedicated and knowledgeable community of long-time Mineral King citizens with which to establish such a partnership.