Bear Real Estate - History of Big Bear Lake
you are considering buying Real Estate in Big Bear Lake or the surrounding
areas, then you might also be interested in some Big Bear History:
Bear Lake, one of Southern California’s most popular resorts, actually
began as a paradise for hunters and miners during California’s gold
1845, Benjamin Wilson accidentally discovered Big Bear when he passed
through the Eastern San Bernardino Mountains during an expedition
to the Mojave River. Due to an abundance of grizzly bears, the high
mountain area became know as Bear Valley.
grizzly, along with deer, beaver, and waterfowl, attracted marksmen
and trappers to the area. The mountain men quickly began to seek more
than wild game. Soon, the discovery of gold in other California mountains
triggered a hunt for mineral wealth in Bear Valley.
region was rich with gold and silver ore, luring enough prospectors
to form the Bear Valley Mining District in April of 1860. Adding to
the excitement was the gold rush in Holcomb Valley, immediately north
of Bear Valley, a discovery that caused the greatest mining rush in
the San Bernardino Mountains.
feed the influx of miners, ranchers brought their cattle to Bear Valley.
From the 1880’s until the early 1900’s, hundreds of cattle grazed
each summer off the rich grass, and then migrated to the desert during
1884, Bear Valley changed from a hunters’ and miners’ paradise into
a haven for sportsmen and vacationers. This major transformation resulted
from one man’s vision to create a reservoir for the town of Redlands.
southwest of the Bear Valley, Redlands was a growing community with
many citrus groves. Although the Santa River and nearby creek provided
water for trees, a more dependable year-round water source was necessary.
May of 1883, Frank Brown, co-founder of Redlands, along with a companion,
traveled to Bear Valley in search of possible water sources. The only
visible water was a small, shallow lake (present day Baldwin Lake),
and a few meandering streams and patches of left over snow.
beyond this, Brown decided to build a dam that would harness the mountains’
winter floods for summer use. A 45-foot dam was completed in the Valley’s
west end in 1884, creating a sparkling lake over six miles long. Today
this is known as Big Bear Lake.
of visitors began spending summers in abandoned log cabins and in
the surrounding pine forests. Then, 1887, thousands of fish from Lake
Tahoe were transferred to Big Bear Lake. Fisherman were hooked.
following year, 21 year-old Gus Knight, Jr., along with follow cattleman
John Metcalf, built the first Bear Valley Resort along the south shore
of Big Bear Lake. Although the Bear Valley Hotel would not be ready
until June, every room was reserved by May.
there, however, proved a major obstacle. The only wagon road was long
and winding, often washed out in the winter and in need of constant
repair. San Bernardino did not want to fund construction or maintain
the road, and the challenge was overwhelming for private enterprises.
by 1892, passengers spent a day and a half traveling from Redlands
to the Bear Valley Hotel. Finally, county supervisors decided to break
their long-standing policy against using public funds. In 1915, the
famous Rim of the World Drive surfaced, allowing motorists to drive
through the mountains to the resort community, newly named Pine Knot.
Pine Knot grew rapidly. By 1921, it had an estimated population of
8,000, ans as transportation continued to improve, the area became
even more popular.
Winter sports, which would eventually make the resort a
year-round attraction, began in January 1924, when the Sierra Club
held its annual Winter Sports Meet at Baldwin Lake. Ice skating and
tobogganing became favorite activities, and the Big Bear Lake Park
district formed in 1934 to develop other winter sports in Bear Valley.
Pine Knot changed its name to Big Bear in 1938. Big Bear hibernated
during World War II, but as soon as the war ended, the community awoke
to new homes, businesses, and recreational facilities.
resort created an avalanche of winter sports. the first ski-area,
Snow Forest, was constructed in 1949. Snow Summit, which offers 18
miles of trails on 230 acres, opened in 1952, and in 19590 the Moonridge
Ski Area opened.
the mid-1970’s, Goldmine Associates greatly expanded Moonridge and
renamed it Goldmine. Goldmine was purchased by one of the industry’s
leading ski resort companies in 1988 and renamed Bear Mountain Ski
Resort. Then in 2002, Bear Mountain Ski Resort and Snow Summit combined
under the same ownership, offering skiers and boarders Southern California’s
Bear Valley, once roaming with wild game, now is only a few hours
drive from anywhere in Southern California, and entertains more than
100,000 visitors on holiday weekends. A true four-season resort, Big
Bear offers clear skies and moderate temperatures 330 days a year.