Gypsite, CA

 

Gypsite was founded in 1909 by Charley Koehn the same man that Koehn Dry Lake is named after). Koehn found gypsite near his homestead, and placed a claim on it. A calcining plant was built near the site about a year after the discovery. From 1910-1930, Koehn leased out his claims to various companies including the Crown Plaster Company, and The Alpine Cement Company.

In 1912 a gunfight took place, a group of claim jumpers hired gunmen to force Koehn off of his claim. Koehn won the gun battle and stayed put.  This didn’t end the trouble for Koehn, Alpine Cement Company took Koehn to court over contracts and percentages seeking damages of $50,000.00. Judge Campbell Deaumont heard the case, putting it on hold until further study could take place. In May 1923, Koehn was arrested for attempting to bomb Deaumont’s house. Koehn pleaded innocent to the charges, despite bomb making material being found in his car. Koehn was found guilty and sentenced to prison at San Quentin. He died there one day before his scheduled release in 1938.

 

Gypsite, CA - Fallen structure

Gypsite, CA – Fallen structure

 

George W. Abel mined Koehn’s claims from 1926-1935, he created and sold a product called Mojave Desert Agricultural Gypsum which was used as a soil conditioner in agricultural production. The end for Abel came when the Lost Hills deposits in the San Joaquin Valley increased production, causing less of a demand for Abel’s product.

 

Gypsite, CA - Mine entrance

Gypsite, CA – Mine entrance

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.