Charles Koehn (The Bismark Of the Desert)

Survey number:      Owner:      Date of discovery:

Charles Koehn had the post office for the entire desert for that portion of the Mojave desert that was North of Mojave and West of his store. During the Goler boom Chas. Koehn delivered maiil, sold groceries, booze, and miniing supplies to the camps of Goler, Summit, Randsburg etc.

November 1, 1893:  “POST OFFICES have been established at Koehn, Kern County, with Charles Koehn as Postmaster.  The Morning Call

November 22, 1896: “KANE SPRINGS Twenty-six miles from Mojave and twenty-five from Randsburg a new and desirable vista presents itself to the east or west-bound traveler—a veritable “oasis in the desert,” and which will ere long doubtless become a popular resort for tourists, invalids and residents of the surrounding mining districts, covering an area of several hundred square miles. When the traveler alights from the stage, the first thing likely to attract his attention is the substantial stone building occupied by C. A. Koehn (owner and founder of Kane Springs), as a general store, meat market and restaurant. Close by a five-stamp mill, built to operate ten stamps and soon to be enlarged to its full capacity, owing to the rapidly increasing output of the mines in the surrounding district.
Flocks of geese, also a large number of chickens, turkeys and hogs, all fat and contented, meander around the corral and farther away herds of well fed cattle, sheep and horses are browsing upon the native grasses. The question naturally arises. Where does the water come from to cause this gratifying change in the landscape and to supply the mill with water? A little investigation while the stage horses were being watered led the writer to the Kane springs, a never failing supply of pure mountain water which overflows the adjacent land, except when pumped to supply the stamp mill. The present flow of the springs is 100 miner’s inches, but it can be increased greatly by excavating to a depth of twenty or twenty-five feet and enlarging the area to fifty feet.

Mr. Koehn is a good’ type of the shrewd German-American citizen, who, by thrift and energy, amassed considerable property in a few years, where the majority or people fail to do so. Attracted by the springs, he took up a homestead there of 160 acres in 1892, with the intention of starting a goat ranch; built a house, barn, etc.; purchased two horses and a few fowls, which exhausted his saved up capital of $700. For some time afterward he made a specialty of supplying prospectors with groceries and provisions, and when Goler and Red Rock mining districts were booming, (in 1891), he opened a general store there. Last July lie removed his store to Randsburg, where he built the first substantial frame building erected in the present business district, which is still occupied as a general store and’ meat market. Mr. Koehn owns a valuable gold mine two miles south of Randsburg, which is described in detail in the list of mines of that district.

The Immense deposits of salt (92 percent pure) on Dry lake, adjoining Kane springs, which are ten miles in length and from four to five miles in width, with a sulphur spring in the vicinity, will be utilized for baths, which, with the pure, dry air and abundance of sparkling mountain water, will make Kane springs an Ideal resort for invalids, especially consumptives. Mr. Koehn will erect suitable buildings for the accommodation of invalids as soon as the demand will justify it.

The milling now done at Kane springs aggregates over 300 tons of ore per month, three-fourths of which is from the Randsburg district. He has arranged to place a concentrator In connection with the mill. The Increase in capacity from five to ten stamps will add materially to the tonnage of ore milled.” –The Herald

July 01, 1896: “O. B. Stanton, who, until June 1, was one of the proprietors of the Baldwin Hotel, came to town yesterday from Kern County, where he is part owner of several promising mines that have very recently attracted considerable notice. But that is not why Mr. Stanton smiles. He has struck a great flow of artesian water on the Mojave Desert. It was all the more pleasing to him because he was not expecting anything of the kind. Now he wonders if his connection with the hotel resulted in his becoming the unconscious possessor of the charm that in days gave the great breach-of-promise man his title of Lucky Baldwin. “The well,” said Mr. Stanton, as he stood before the Baldwin bar and sipped leisurely at a refreshing beverage, “is near Koehn post office, twenty-seven miles north of Mojave, on the old Searles borax road to Death Valley.” “Is it in the desert?” was asked. “Desert nothing! I’m tired of hearing that country called a desert. It’s just like the San Joaquin, and the climate is a darn sight better. “Where we struck the flow, the land is covered with little knolls on a country gradually rising toward the mountains. All about those mounds there was a little surface seepage, and I thought that by digging reservoirs at intervals along the slope the water might be caught so that it could be pumped when needed from the different reservoirs.

The first hole, however, was the last. The idea was to cut them six feet square and twenty feet deep. Well, when the men got down about eighteen or nineteen feet, the bottom burst right up, and the water poured in so fast that they had to get out in a hurry. In less than forty minutes the reservoir was overflowing. “There is plenty of water for 100 stamps if necessary. The flow is six inches. The well is on C. A. Koehn’s homestead, but I have the privilege of using the water, and it is the only flowing water in the whole region.

“We are using the water now for our mill, only 250 feet distant. There are mines all about there. The Ked Rock is four miles to the west; that’s where they found that big nugget a little while ago. Eleven miles to the east is the old Goler district, and thirteen miles to the southwest is the Randsburg district. The output of all these mines is limited to-day to the very richest ores, which alone can be profitably handled; the rate for transportation is s0 high. “We are putting in oil tanks, and will use petroleum for fuel, so, with that innovation and the artesian water, conditions are somewhat improved.” – The Herald

January 3, 1897: ”LLEWELLYN IRON WORKS. (is) enlarging a 5-stamp to a 10-stamp mill for C. A. Koehn at Kane’s Springs.” –The Herald

July 27, 1897: “WILL BE RETURNED TO SAN JOSE. RANDSBURG, Cal., July 26.— For the past seven or eight months William Wright has been the bookkeeper, for Charles Koehn, merchant and mill-owner of Koehns Springs. Several days ago Wright resigned his position and came to Randsburg for a good time. Claude Bohannan, the local constable, soon recognized Wright as a man wanted at SanJose for embezzlement, and wired the officials there. This evening Deputy Sheriff Tennant of San Jose left for home with Wright.” –San Francisco Call

September 5, 1897: “KANE SPRINGS–Twenty-six miles from Mojave and twenty-five from Randsburg Is Kane Springs, where Charles A. Koehn, an enterprising German-American, established a five stamp mill in 1895, owing to the immense water supply on his 160 acres upon which he had settled (the pioneer of that section in 1892). Mr. Koehn has been operating as a merchant and cattle raiser for his meat markets in Red Rock, Goler and Randsburg, besides Kane Springs, for years, but last November he disposed of all his interests except at Kane Springs, where he is postmaster, merchant, butcher, cattle, hog and poultry raiser and millman combined, besides possessing 160 acres of land that has wonderful and diversified springs of mineral and domestic water. Mr. Koehn’s pet scheme is to build a sanitarium at this point and fully utilize the sulphur, salt and other excellent mineral and domestic waters that abound here. The mill has now ten stamps and has a concentrator in connection. From 400 to 500 tons of ore per month are reduced, most of which comes from Randsburg. Messrs. Dean & Brand have an eighteen ton cyanide works at this point and are as yet working on tailings from Mr. Koehn’s mill.” The Herald

November 4, 1899:  “NOTICE FOR PUBLICATION –Land office at Independence, Cal.

Oct. 21, 1899

Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed notice of his intention to make final proof in support of his claim, and that said proof will be made before A. C. Maude, U. S. Commissioner at Bakersfield, Cal., on December 4th, 1899, viz Charles A. Koehn, Homestead Entry No. 780 for the S. W. 1/4 , sec. 8, T. 30 S,. R. 38 E., M. D. M.  He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon and cultivation of , said land, viz: William C. Wilson, of Mojave, Kern Co., Call;  John  H. Underhill, of Mojave, Kern Co., Cal; H. A. Blodgett, of Bakersfield,  Kern Co., Cal.; Charles A. Lee of Bakersfield, Kern, Co., Cal.

S. W.  AUSTIN, Register

Randsburg Miner

The San Francisco Call reported on January 24, 1912 that Charles Koehn Single handed engaged two Texas and Nevada gunmen and 15 companions in a battle Sunday and held them at bay for three hours, until the arrival of Constable Thompson and his posse from  Randsburg  and Constable Hamilton, and three deputies from Mojave.

Were it not for an ingeniously contrived rolling fort behind which Koehn advanced and fired a few shots to frighten his assailants off his body might be reposing in a desert grave, for the gunmen shot to kill and, although their aim was bad, several dozen bullet holes were found in Koehn’s bulwark. Seven rifles arid five revolvers were taken by the posse from Koehn’s enemies.

To defend himself Koehn drove a bolt in each end of a pine log 18 inches in diameter and four feet long, fastened a couple of shafts to the bolts so that he could shove the log ahead of him like a lawn roller, built a superstructure of railroad ties, and, armed with a big army rifle, crept on hands arid knees, firing as he went several miles over the desert until he came up to the enemy.

Rosenberger of Los Angeles and “Slim” White were arrested with Koehn and taken to Randsburg, where charges of disturbing the peace were lodged against them. They all gave bail, and Justice McGinnls set their trials for February 5.

The pitched battle is the test chapter in the trouble between Koehn and Rosenberger over Koehn’s salt claims in the dry salt: lake, where a fight between the same parties occurred a year ago. Charges of assault with intent to commit, murder were preferred against Koehn, but he defended himself in court and was acquitted.

One of the interesting stories about Charley involved mining Charlie had many mining interest both in gold and other minerals such as salt and gypsite.  Charley had an early interest in the Windy Mine, had the claim on the salt beds at Saltdale which he sold to the Diamond Salt Co.  Had the early claims on the gypsite mined at Koehn (Kane) dry lake and a mine in the Stringer District called the Winnie that he had purchased from the original discoverer, Ed Hammond.  Charley leased this mine out to an old prospector by the name of Witte.  Witte sunk the shaft down twelve feet and took out six sacks or ore that would net him about $800.  Witte than proceeded to Kramer, and exhibited the ore, telling a story that he had found a new strike, but only giving a general hint as to its location.  Some railroad men advanced him some money for development work.  Needing a wagon and horses, Witte proceeded to Bakersfield to purchase them.

While in Bakersfield, Witte took to celebrating a bit too much and ended dying with his boots on as a result of a gunshot wound received during a drunken quarrel.  Thus having died with the secret of his “new discovery” another lost mine legend began.

The men in Randsburg got the story of this lost mine from the boys in Kramer, via the fellows in Mojave.  Somewhere along the line they forgot to mention the name of the miner.  Charley having heard this story twice scoured the country looking for the lost mine.  The name of the old miner finally reached the ears of Pat Bryne at the Mountain View Saloon.  Now Pat knew that Witte had taken some ore out of the Winnie, but had not known that he was the prospector that had died in Bakersfield.  When talking with Charley about the story they finally put two and two together and found out Charley had been spending money looking for a mine that he already owned, and in fact was already played out.

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