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.

4 Comments

  • Excellent information. There’s so many places that still need to be found and explored. What do you think about Lee, Ca. ? I know there’s not much out there, but it would be nice to know what used to be out there.

  • Hi Jim,
    I’m not sure, but I think Gypsite may have been Pancho’s home from the mid 50s. Seems like I remember it being a spring along the Butterfield line. There was another water stop l mile south of Cantil on the old George Pappas ranch. (Now I’m not sure if they serviced the Butterfield or Borax line.) If it is the place I remember, and from looking at the Google map it sure looks right, it also has changed greatly. The M&R & Goforth ranches drew down the water table below the tree roots, and thus you have no trees now. Did you see an area which could have been used as an air strip? Pancho had couple of planes where I’m thinking about, plus she kept some nice riding stock. This probably would have come after she left her Edwards site. Her step son and I ran together a little, but a lot of water has crossed since then, and my memories are not set in stone.

    • Hi Sam,

      The Gypsite site is in terrible ruins. There is really nothing left that would be recognizable. I didn’t come across anything that looking like a landing strip, however the entire lake bed would make for a wonderful landing area.

      The biggest problem that we have faced out here is the OHV enthusiast. I’ve received flack for saying that before, but it is true. I know that it’s not all of them, but so many of them just have no respect for these areas and see them as places to trash.

      Wish I could help you more on this one, there just isn’t much here to be able to identify.

      DVJ

Leave a Comment