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Finding Aid for the Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company records, 1889-1991
1993  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company was formed by Herman Henry Kerckhoff in Los Angeles in 1912. The company owned 2,450-acres of mining property in the Avawatz Mountains, located in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County. In 2011 the Wilderness Land Trust, a Colorado non-profit corporation, purchased the Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company and donated the land to the United States Bureau of Land Management for preservation. The collection contains a rich assortment of corporate document books, ledgers, and stock books; geologic and economic reports; mining-related government publications and newspaper articles; and geologic, structural, property, and railroad maps, tracing the history of this early southern California mining enterprise. Materials date from 1889 to 1991, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1908 to 1922.
Background
The Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company was formed in June of 1912 by Herman Henry Kerckhoff, a member of the prominent Los Angeles Kerckhoff family. Avawatz Salt and Gypsum was the final amalgamation of several earlier companies including the Death Valley Chemical Company (1908-1911), Avawatz Salt Company (1911-1912), and Avawatz Gypsum Company (1910-1912). The company owned 2,450 acres of land on the northeast edge of the Avawatz Mountains, at the southern end of Death Valley. This included, as of 1917, 50 mining claims and mineral deposits of gypsum, rock salt, and celestite. Kerckhoff intended to transport gypsum, the main ingredient in cement and wall plaster, from the Avawatz mines to nearby Los Angeles where it could be utilized in the ongoing building boom. To this end, the Amargosa Valley Railroad Company was formed in 1917 to construct a sixteen mile line connecting the Avawatz mines to the main railway leading to Los Angeles. Despite the Avawatz Company's large investment in engineering reports and land surveys, the outbreak of World War I made securing financing for the railroad difficult and it was never completed. Without the railroad connecting the remote mines to Los Angeles, Avawatz Company activity was for the most part halted. In 2011 the Wildness Land Trust, a Colorado nonprofit which buys and protects wilderness land, purchased the Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company from the Kerckhoff family and subsequently donated the land to the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. The land is now part of the Death Valley Wilderness Study Area and falls within the boundaries of land which will be permanently preserved by Senator Diane Feinstein's pending California Desert Protection Act.
Extent
4 document boxes (23.4 linear ft.) 2 half document boxes, 1 flat box, 3 oversize flat boxes, 9 oversize map boxes
Restrictions
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Availability
Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.