Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Title: Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company records
Date (inclusive): 1889-1991; Bulk, 1908-1922
Collection number: 1993
Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company
4 document boxes (23.4 linear ft.)
2 half document boxes,
1 flat box,
3 oversize flat boxes,
9 oversize map boxes
Abstract: 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.
Language: Finding aid is written in
Language of the Material:
Materials are in English.
University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections
for paging information.
Restrictions on Access
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.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
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.
Provenance/Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by the Wilderness Land Trust in 2012.
Processed by Courtney Dean in 2012 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jillian Cuellar.
The processing of this collection was generously supported by
[Identification of item], Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company records (Collection 1993). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles
E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
UCLA Catalog Record ID
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.
Scope and Content
This collection contains an assortment of corporate document books, ledgers, stock books, legal documents, and occasional
correspondence from the Avawatz Salt and Gypsum Company and its separate but related corporations - the Death Valley Chemical
Company, Avawatz Salt Company, Avawatz Gypsum Company, Avawatz Sales Company, and the Amargosa Valley Railroad Company. Also
included are mining-related government publications and newspaper articles; and a wealth of large geologic, structural, property,
and railroad maps illustrating Avawatz land and the proposed Amargosa Valley Railroad. Particularly notable are several Avawatz
commissioned economic and geologic reports featuring financial projections, photographs of the land, and detailed maps. Materials
date from 1889 to 1991, with the bulk of the collection dating from ca. 1908 to 1922.
Organization and Arrangement
Arranged in the following series:
- Series 1: Business records, 1889-1991
- Series 2: Reports and resource materials, 1908-1989
- Series 3: Maps, 1911-1989
Series 1 is arranged chronologically by creating agency. Series 2 and 3 are arranged alphabetically.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Wilderness Land Trust.