Category: Big Bear Photos

Astronomical Society Explores Cosmos

Big Bear Lake, CA, July 19, 2014 – Visitors to Big Bear often comment on how bright the stars are at night, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. Our altitude of over 6700 feet gives us excellent transparency, and the lack of many street lights keep the skies appropriately dark. Given those conditions, our mountain is the perfect place to explore astronomy. The Big Bear Valley Astronomical Society (BBVAS) was established in 1991 to explore and increase our appreciation of the Universe. It caters to amateur astronomers of all levels and promotes science literacy through outreach activities like sharing telescopes on the Village sidewalk. A new event for the organization is remote live lectures, where a professional Astronomer presents a live, interactive lecture over Skype. Past speakers have hailed from the National Solar Observatory in Arizona, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the Executive Director of the International Dark Sky Association from Arizona. Society members also get together once a month for a “star party”, setting up telescopes in a dark location to gaze at all the beautiful objects in the sky. Observers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome, whether they have a telescope or not. If you do have a scope, they’ll help you set it up and navigate the cosmos. The next star party is on July 26 in Baldwin Lake during...

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Resort Life… in Turn of the Century Big Bear

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’...

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The Road to Big Bear

Big Bear, CA, April 26, 2014 – The first road into the San Bernardino Mountains, which was really just a trail, was built by the Mormons in 1852 and ascended Waterman Canyon. Big Bear Lake was created in 1885 and the only way up, other than a pack trail up Santa Ana Canyon, was a long arduous trip up Cushenbury Grade. To get to the Grade, visitors first had to travel over Cajon Pass to the desert before climbing the steep grade to Bear Valley. In May of 1888, the Bear Valley Toll Road Company was formed. They cut a road into Santa Ana Canyon and over the mountains  into the Valley, and used a combination of stage coach and mule train for the two day trip to Big Bear. In 1891, Gus Knight and John Metcalf formed the Bear Valley Wagon Road Company and by the following year had completed a road through what is now Running Springs. Stagecoaches began making scheduled runs into the valley three times a week. With this new road, travel time to Big Bear was cut to a day and a half. It was 1908 when the first automobile made the 101 mile trip up. Since gas stations were non-existent, a 20 horsepower steam powered vehicle was chosen to make the trek, and did so with much difficulty. In 1915, Rim of the...

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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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The Local Buzz

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