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of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
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by John Elliott
Some form of historical status for Mineral King and its cabin community has been in the works since 1986. On Friday, Aug. 8, Californias State Resources Commission approved a cultural landscape nomination for Mineral King making official historical status one giant step closer.
The concurrence by state officials for a historical district contiguous to the Mineral King Road in Sequoia National Park was necessary because one cabin is on land privately owned by the Disney Corporation. The Disney connection with the Mineral King area dates from the 1960s when an agent of the company bought up several parcels of land in hopes that the area would become a world-class ski resort.
In 1978, after the Sierra Club deemed the development of a ski resort not worth the environmental cost, legislation reverted the control of Mineral King from the U.S. Forest Service to Sequoia National Park. According to information presented by Marilyn Lortie, staff historian with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the components of the Mineral King district are significant in a number of areas.
The district boundaries, which encompass 408 acres, are based on the location of a convergence of historical resources.
The Mineral King Road was essential to opening Mineral King to recreational use and is a good example of a 1920s-1930s automobile road, Lortie wrote in her staff report. The road today, with its sharp twists and turns and dramatically steep grades, has changed little from that time.
Lortie also wrote that the bulk of features at Mineral King are three groups of cabins Cabin Cove, West Mineral King and East Mineral King.
The cabins were built as very basic and somewhat primitive summer residences, Lortie wrote. Mineral King is so difficult to reach that elaborate buildings and extensive renovations are unusual.
Ironically, it is the fact that the cabin tracts find themselves enfolded in Sequoia Park that, in part, makes them even more significant. Lortie concluded from the nomination documents that the cabin tracts offer an unusual contrast in the federal policies of the past.
Cynthia Howse, speaking on behalf of SHPO, said the next step for the Mineral King nomination is for the Federal Preservation Officer to send it to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. That is expected to only be a formality as the nomination was prepared in concurrence with SHPO and the National Park Service, she said.
The nomination also includes the ranger residence at Atwell Mill and other features associated with the Mineral King Road. The NPS will recommend a level of significance for the historic properties that will have important implications as to how the district is managed and preserved.
The nomination documentation form was prepared Thomas E.
Nava, a Fresno-based historian who worked as a consultant for the NPS.
Amidst all the hoopla surrounding Arnold Schwarzenegger and a cast of more than 100 candidates in the Gov. Davis recall election to be held October 7, four local candidates filed for three Community Services District (CSD) seats that will be decided in the November 2 consolidated election.
Incumbent trustees Vince Andrus and Tom Sparks filed for reelection. Sparks, an appointed incumbent, filled the unexpired term of Michael Sheltzer who resigned after he and his family relocated to Visalia. One incumbent, Bob Thomas, chose not to seek reelection.
Newcomers on the Nov. 2 ballot are Rod Simonian and Dennis Mills. Simonian, a longtime Three Rivers resident, is a self-employed business owner. Mills, who was raised in Three Rivers, is a former fireman and, currently, a transportation engineer with the Tulare County Association of Local Governments (TCAG).
On Monday, Aug. 11, Sequoia National Park fire crews began ignitions on the first segment of the Tharps Prescribed Fire near Crescent Meadow. The plume of smoke can be seen from Three Rivers near Moro Rock on the Giant Forest plateau.
The burn will take place in three parts, totaling 484 acres. This first segment is planned to be 133 acres.
Three mechanical fuel-reduction projects are also underway in Wilsonia, a private community located in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park; Lodgepole in Sequoia; and at Oriole Lake, a small cabin community north of the Mineral King Road.
More than a dozen lightning-caused fires are currently being monitored by Sequoia-Kings Canyon fire managers, five of which are still small but, nonetheless, have the potential to grow as fuels dry out in the next few weeks.
Four lightning-caused fires are also being monitored in the backcountry of Sequoia National Forest. The largest of these is the Cooney Fire, located in the Golden Trout Wilderness at the confluence of Shotgun Creek and Little Kern River (elevation 8,300 feet). This fire is being managed cooperatively by the U.S. Forest Service and Sequoia National Park as there is the potential for the fire to enter at the southernmost boundary of the park.
After a one-week vacation hiatus, The Kaweah Commonwealth will resume normal delivery schedule today (Friday, Aug. 15). Home delivery and out-of-area subscribers should be receiving the latest issue in a timely fashion.
In the process of adding new carriers on the North Fork and Woodlake routes, homes or businesses that experience any interruption in service or need additional copies of the newspaper, should contact the TKC office by phone, fax, email, or in person.
The Commonwealth has also been working with local postal officials to implement a new sorting process to speed up mail delivery.
The new routing system will help out-of-area subscribers receive delivery in two or three days rather than the five or six days that has been the norm in the past several weeks, said Gordon Corey, officer-in-charge at the Three Rivers Post Office.
Mars maneuvering closer to Earth than ever
Woodlake Highs new gym and cafeteria will be open Monday, Aug. 18, just in time for the first day of the fall semester.
Sisters Donna Meredith and Becky Brown have always worked well together. Together with their husbands, Joe and Clay, respectively, the foursome, who all reside in Woodlake, have brought a new business to town.
The Deli-Up and Ice Cream prepares hot and cold sandwiches to order and dishes up four-ounce scoops of Haagen Dazs ice cream. Officially open for business on Tuesday, August 12, the first dollar came from Keith and Laura Keller for a hot pastrami sandwich.
Open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., the Deli-Up and Ice Cream uses only local fixins in their freshly-made sandwiches. Everything from the bread to the meat, salad, and vegetables comes from nearby.
Located at 136 N. Valencia, where Drifters Thrift used to be, the deli also accepts orders sent by fax.
Send us a fax, and well have your order waiting for you, said Becky.
The ice cream section of the business features 12 flavors from Haagen Dazs regular ice cream line. Additionally, those looking for less guilt with their sin will find Haagen Dazs fat-free, sugar-free choices.
Orders may be placed in person or in advance over the phone (564-3811) or fax (564-3812).
Toni Lenz recently resigned her position as CEO of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce. As of Wednesday, July 30, Toni reduced her volunteer workload to consolidate her energies toward selective community-service activities.
In her four years as CEO, Toni has worked toward an alliance of civic and service organizations, alerted Woodlake businesses to city ordinances and matters concerning them, and been instrumental in organizing Chamber-sponsored community activities
Toni still participates as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, but not as an officer of the board. Her activities now involve planning the upcoming 9/11 Memorial and assisting firefighters with the annual Christmas fund.
Next year, Toni reprises a familiar role, issuing arrest warrants and acting as turnkey for the Western Week jail.
On Monday, Aug. 11, an early-morning fire threatened three families. Shortly after 9 a.m., an electrical fire caused by a malfunctioning swamp cooler started on the top floor of the two-story house at 426 Ascalano St.
Neighbors, including Heriberto Gordo Rodriguez III and a volunteer firefighter, called the fire department, turned off the power and gas to the house, and trained their garden hoses on the blaze. The Woodlake Fire Department arrived and had the blaze contained within 30 minutes.
The attic and the top-floor apartment suffered heavy fire damage, while the downstairs rooms sustained water damage.
Although everyone in the residence escaped without injury, all three families are currently displaced. Clothes, food, housewares, and gift certificates (no cash, please) may be donated to the affected families through the Family Resource Center, 168 N. Valencia. For information, call 564-5212.
Woodlake Unified School District is offering daily lunch and breakfast to all students at no charge. Monday through Friday, every student from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade can receive a complimentary breakfast and lunch.
Funded by the state Department of Education, Woodlakes universal food program is entering its fifth year. All meals meet federal nutritional guidelines.
Laura Bullene Jacobo, Director of Food Service for Woodlake schools and daughter of Bullene Vineyards owners Dan and Sharon Bullene, estimates they will serve about 4,200 meals each day.
Menus are available at Woodlake school offices and cafeterias. It can also be accessed at http://wvms.echalk.com (click on Monthly Menu on the left side under Resources).
For more information, call Laura at 564-8788.
This is the second installment in a series celebrating the centennial of the occupation of Captain (later Colonel) Charles Young and soldiers of the all-black troops of the 9th Cavalry in Sequoia National Park. During the summer of 1903, Capt. Young and his mounted cavalry troops were assigned to patrol and protect Sequoia National Park and General Grant National Park (now the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park).
High road: In 1901, travelers descend the mountain road that provided the first access for visitors to Sequoia National Park from the North Fork road in Three Rivers to, eventually, the Giant Forest grove.
The Visalia Delta reported on Captain Charles Youngs commencement of work, which extended the road into Giant Forest early in the summer of 1903, noting the officers admiration for his civilian ranger staff. Young was quoted as saying the people who rely upon Ranger Britten to prepare and build trails do not realize his ability to do that work to perfection.
Ernest Britten of Three Rivers provided great assistance to Young. At one point, Britten wrote the Secretary of the Interior suggesting a system of vouchers to guarantee payment to local suppliers and asked that money to pay the laborers be entrusted to the office in charge.
Young heartily recommended this request be approved. He knew full well that keeping vendors paid and promptly paying workers would avoid delays in completing the road.
Looking over Captain Youngs meticulous payroll sheets, it is interesting to note the number of local pioneer men from nearby Three Rivers and Kaweah who worked for Young on the road.
Walter Fry was one of these local men. He later became the first civilian superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant national parks.
While most men earned two dollars a day as laborers, and foremen earning three, George Welch of Three Rivers, the civil engineer overseeing the project, earned an impressive $150 a month.
In the summer of 1903, soldiers of the 9th Cavalry built a fence around the General Sherman Tree to protect its roots from being trampled by eager tourists.
Charles Young collection, National Afro-American Museum, Wilberforce, Ohio
In addition to starting early and keeping men and suppliers promptly paid, an additional factor was key to the success of the 1903 road-building crew. Captain L.W. Cornish, Youngs eventual replacement, explained his success as largely due to the strict personal supervision given by Captain Young, who continually spurred on the men under his employ.
Young had long before earned a reputation as a strict disciplinarian. His 9th Ohio Battalion had been considered one of the best drilled in the volunteer army.
Captain Young was also a fair and generous leader who knew the importance of rewarding a job well done. Examining National Park records, one finds a letter he wrote to his superior, the Secretary of the Interior, explaining a 10-day absence by Ranger L.L. Davis. Young had insisted Davis take the time off, with pay, after his supervision of the blasting on the road construction.
I ordered him away from duty for rest because of the ill effects of close contact and long use of dynamite, Young informed Secretary Hitchcock. If the exigencies of ranger service will not permit him to have those days so richly deserved by him, I shall be glad to refund the money paid him by the department.
Perhaps the best example of Youngs rewarding hard work was an event well publicized in Tulare County. On Sept. 1, 1903, the Visalia Delta offered this report:
Forest feast: On Aug. 30, 1903, a gala celebration, hosted by Captain Young, was held in Giant Forest upon completion of the road. Guests included road workers and local dignitaries who dined at a banquet table fashioned from a fallen sugar pine.
Charles Young collection, National Afro-American Museum, Wilberforce, Ohio
The elegant feast was put upon the table and some hundred or so guests sat down to honor the completion of the road. The menu consisted of roasted chicken, roast port, beef, and all the delicious dishes that are served to make them all the more palatable.
Those from this city who sat about the festal board speak in glowing terms of the hospitality of Captain Young and his ability to entertain.
The celebration was the talk of the county for a long time. Young had encouraged the workmen by promising this feast upon completion of the road. Everyone who worked on the road, as well as Visalia dignitaries, were invited. The banquet was set out on a huge log. Young acted as headwaiter and was assisted by his non-commissioned officers, serving the guests food out of blasting powder boxes attached to shovels.
One account mentions Youngs truly appreciated grand finale. When they were all about finished, he announced that this wasnt all. He had beer (store-bought, no less) for everyone.
Perhaps an even greater challenge during Youngs season at Sequoia was acquiring options on the privately-owned land within the park. Park policy and protection of the forest could not be implemented on the various islands of titled land privately held within park boundaries.
It was imperative that the park acquire the 3,877 acres held by various landowners, but local pioneers often resented government control, and were naturally hesitant to sell land to the government. Faced with the reluctance of local owners, coupled with the racial barriers that Young undoubtedly encountered, made any success all the more remarkable.
The Visalia Delta reported on October 13, 1903:
In an interview, Captain Young said that he with the other proper officials have seen, or corresponded with, all of the people who own property within the park lines and have secured their consent as to the sale of the land to the government. As will be remembered, nearly every captain that has been here on duty has made an effort to purchase the private land within the boundaries and convert it into the park.
Unfortunately, Congress failed to act on Youngs recommendation and would not appropriate the necessary money to buy the land.
Next Part Three: Captain Young overcomes discrimination and becomes the highest-ranking African-American to date in the U.S. military.