Big Bear, CA, May 31, 2014 – As soon as Big Bear Lake was created by building the original ‘Rock Dam’ in 1885, tourists started visiting Bear Valley. In 1888, Gus Knight Jr. and John Metcalf purchased 80 acres on the south shore of the lake to build the valley’s first resort, The Bear Valley Hotel. Despite the fact that it took two days by stage and burro train to reach the valley, the hotel was always crowded. Unfortunately, on Christmas eve in 1900 the hotel burned to the ground but Knight rebuilt and was open soon after.
In 1911, the ‘Pine Knot Resort Company’ was formed by a group of wealthy businessmen from Redlands. They bought the Knight/Metcalf resort and built the Pine Knot Lodge. Located along Pine Knot Blvd. just south of where the Village is now, the lodge had a large dining room, dance floor, and 75 cabins by 1913. It was torn down in the late 1930s. The Big Bear Tavern was a stylish resort built in 1917 and still exists today as the Presbyterian Conference Grounds. If you had the money, the place to stay in the 20s was Stillwell’s. On a point just east of the village, it was the most luxurious and expensive accommodations in the valley. Stillwell’s was rebuilt after fire destroyed the pavilion in 1928. Seventeen years later, the ‘rebuilt’ Stillwell’s also burned. Another familiar landmark for many years, the Highlander Hotel, at the corner of Bartlett and Lakeview, burned in 1940. In 1948 the Peter Pan Woodland Club was another casualty of fire. Located on the corner of Greenway and Country Club, the members only resort boasted a major golf course, manicured lawns, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. One of the most unique resorts was the Pan Hot Springs Inn. Built in 1924, it burned down in 1933. However, the two swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, at the natural hot springs remained in operation until the early 90s when the property was damaged by an earthquake.