Category: Big Bear Photos

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

  Big Bear, CA, March 15, 2014 – In 1848, gold was discovered in northern California which brought thousands of people to the state from all over the world. One of these people was Bill Holcomb who tried his luck up north, but quickly decided to head to southern California. He heard rumors of gold in Big Bear Valley, but wasn’t sure how to get there. He and his partner, Jack Martin, finally got directions and made their way to the valley in 1859. There they met up with other miners who were working the area known as Starvation Flats, very close to where the Stater Bros. Shopping Center is today. Not having any luck, they decided to hunt bears instead. Holcomb ended up shooting and wounding a bear which he followed into a beautiful little valley to the north which people started calling Holcomb Valley. He returned to the valley in search of more bear and while he was there decided to do a little gold panning. Much to his surprise, he  found gold. Soon word got out and hundreds of people came to Holcomb Valley to make their fortune. Jed Van Dusen was asked to build a wagon road from Holcomb Valley to the Cajon Pass to make it easier to bring lumber and machinery to the valley. Consequently, the town that sprang up was named Belleville...

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Five Eagles Observed Over Weekend

Big Bear Lake, CA, March 12, 2014 – The last of four eagle censuses this winter was conducted on Saturday, with local biologists getting help from 57 volunteers. Observers spotted five bald eagles around Big Bear Lake during the one-hour count, including four adults and one juvenile. Juvenile eagles are the same size as the adults, but have a brown head and tail for their first few years of life. So, where do eagles hang out? One pair of adults was seen in the neighborhoods at Eagle Point.  The other pair was in the Grout Bay area of Fawnskin in the closure area; that bald eagle nest area there will be protected as long as the pair remains there.  The juvenile was on the south shore in the Gilner Point area and then was seen flying towards Fawnskin. Many of the bald eagles have started migrating out of southern California to breed in the north, but one breeding pair has set up a nesting territory here and are year-round residents. Unfortunately, the two chicks that hatched in early February did not survive the severe storm that followed. The four monthly counts are conducted between December and March to estimate the number of bald eagles that are wintering in lakes throughout the area.  The highest numbers are typically in February and March....

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Hollywood Loves Big Bear

  Big Bear, CA, February 22, 2014 – In July of 1911, a movie company from back east arrived at the new Pine Knot Lodge in Big Bear and began filming. That began a love affair between Hollywood and Big Bear that still continues. At about the same time, tourism started taking off in the valley, but only in the summer. During the winter, Big Bear sat empty. However, an enterprising local named Fred Skinner who was the manager of the new Pine Knot Lodge, let Hollywood know that the Lodge would remain open during the winter if the studios wanted to come up and film. He even brought in a generator, giving Pine Knot Lodge electricity five years before it reached the valley. Until the ski resorts came along, it was the movie business that kept Big Bear alive during the winter months. ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ was filmed on location here in 1920 as well as other films such as the 1969 musical ‘Paint Your Wagon’ starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, Disney’s ‘Old Yeller’, and the 1983 film ‘War Games’ with Matthew Broderick. The television industry also found Big Bear. In 1969, the show ‘HR Pufnstuf’ shot their opening sequence right on the lake. Episodes of ‘Daniel Boone’ were shot here and a number of ‘Bonanza’ episodes were shot up at Cedar Lake. ‘Lassie’, ‘FBI’,...

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Google to Preserve Big Bear’s Treasures

Big Bear City, CA, February 16, 2014 – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a new partnership this month between the County Museum and the Google Cultural Institute. Through their Art Project, the Institute will film and photograph various exhibits at the Museum, covering the cultural and natural heritage of the San Bernardino Mountains and other areas. The materials will include a diorama of the birds in the Big Bear area, and a “First People” exhibit honoring the various native American tribes of our region. The endeavor is designed to digitally preserve cultural information for future generations and make it globally accessible, and according to Museum Director Robert McKernan, it’s only fitting his institution should be included. He says, “Our collections are of worldwide significance, and this partnership will help spread the word….about the educational and research opportunities offered through our museum.” Third District Supervisor James Ramos added that the online platform will be a great tool for educating local youth about the rich history of San Bernardino County. Google has already partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives from 40 countries to host the world’s cultural treasures online. Partner museums can upload high quality images from their collections and offer virtual tours of museum exhibits. The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands, and will soon...

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1884 – Big Bear Gets a Dam and a Lake

    Big Bear Lake, CA, February 15, 2014 – Frank Brown and Hiram Barton rode into Big Bear Valley on horseback in May of 1883. They quickly concluded that if they built a dam at the narrow west end of the valley, they would create a lake five and a half miles long that could supply much needed water to thirsty communities down the hill. For economic reasons, they decided on a stone arch dam 52 feet high, built of hand cut granite blocks weighing as much as 5 tons each. The dam was finished in 1884 at a cost of $75,000., creating the largest man made lake in the world at the time. In 1910, due to the growing citrus industry in the valleys below, it was decided a new, larger dam was needed to increase the capacity of the lake. An unusual, multiple-arch design was built by John Eastwood about 300 feet further downstream. Cement and supplies were hauled up the mountain from Victorville by teams of horses. It was finished in 1912, costing $138,000. The new design did not inspire public confidence. However, it proved it’s strength when it withstood a large earthquake in 1921 without a crack. The new dam, which was 20 feet higher than the old 1884 dam, increased the the size of the lake from 1800 acres to 2500 acres and...

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