Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mining History: Desert Fever

Kern County:

GYPSITE (KOEHN DRY LAKE)

Charley Koehn discovered gypsite near his homestead and staked claims on it in 1909. A year later a small calcining plant was put into operation to manufacture wall plaster, and in 1912, the Crown Plaster Company produced a small amount of gypsite. Koehn leased his deposits to various companies from 1910 to 1930. Claim jumpers hired gunmen in 1912 to force Koehn off his claims, but Koehn won out in a small and short-lived gun battle. After this, companies began to sue Koehn over contracts and percentages.

One of these was the Alpine Cement Company, or Alpine Lime and Plaster Company. This company was involved in litigation with Koehn, demanding $50,000 from him in damages. Judge Campbell Deaumont heard the case and asked that the suit be continued for further study. In May 1923, Koehn was arrested as a suspicious character when found running from the judge's home in Fresno. He was jailed and charged with attempting to bomb Deaumont's home. The explosive device contained fuse and newspaper, and remnants of both were found in Koehn's car. However, there is some doubt as to Koehn's guilt in this matter, and he pleaded his innocence throughout the trial. He was found guilty and sent to San Quentin where he died in prison, only days before his scheduled release in 1938.

From 1926 to 1935, George W. Abel mined Koehn's claims and sold a product known as Mojave Desert Agricultural Gypsum. A mill at Gypsite ground and sacked part of the gypsite and bulk-loaded the rest, sending all of it to the San Joaquin Valley to be used as a soil conditioner in agricultural production. Increased output from the Lost Hills deposits in the San Joaquin Valley caused a decreased output at the Koehn deposits from 1935 to 1950.19



nature: Geology, Wildlife & Plants -- geography: Maps - Regions - Points of Interest - Communities -- roads & trails: Route 66 -- glossary
Parks & Public Lands: Wilderness -- Native Culture - history: Pioneers - Military - Ghost Towns & Gold Mines - Mining - Old West -- comments
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