• Agencies investigate illegal grows in San Bernardino National Forest September 23, 2018
    On Thursday and Friday, Sept. 20 and 21, at approximately 7 a.m., investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department — Marijuana Enfocement Team partnered with members of the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife…
  • Structure fire reported September 20, 2018
    UPDATE: 3:03: p.m.
  • Jack Roberts named new airport general manager September 20, 2018
    After a multi-month search, the Big Bear Airport District Board of Directors approved a contract for the new airport general manager at the Sept. 19 board meeting. And this time around it’s a local man.
  • Big Bear Elementary students visit the lake September 19, 2018
    Fifth- and sixth-grade students from Susan Mueller's and Pam Reames's classes at Big Bear Elementary went on a field trip Wednesday, Sept. 19. The trip is part of the Bear Tech program sponsored by the Big Bear Valley Education Trust…
  • Power restored after outage in Big Bear Valley early Sept. 19 September 19, 2018
    UPDATE: 10 a.m. — Bear Valley Electric Services reports that the early-morning power outage in Big Bear Valley was the result of a component failure on Shay 34kV line. That created an outage affecting approximately 13,000 customers.
  • Pizza fundraiser at Village Pizza September 19, 2018
    BARC and Bear Mountain Rescue host their annual Pup-peroni pizza fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Village Pizza in Big Bear Lake.
  • Bowling for a cruise September 19, 2018
    Dream Vacations and Darrell Gardner sponsor a Cruise Bowling League at the Bowling Barn in October. Members of the league will have a chance to go on a season-ending cruise sponsored by Dream Vacations and Gardner.
  • State offers property tax program September 19, 2018
    Qualifying taxpayers in San Bernardino County may be able to get a break. The State Controller’s Property Tax Postponement Program is available in San Bernardino County.

History

Big Bear was originally inhabited by the Serrano Native American tribe. In the 1800’s and prior, the area was teaming with huge grizzly bears and other wildlife. As today, it was a winter wonderland in cold months and a sunny, warm spot in the summer. These days it is best knows as the most popular Southern California ski destination, as well as a great place for summer sports like boating, camping, and fishing. While many people contributed to the popularity of the now year-round mountain resort, a few include:

In 1845, the mayor of little Los Angeles, Benjamin Wilson, discovered Big Bear Valley. He was chasing an Ute Chief named Walkara into the Santa Ana Canyon of San Bernadino. There, high into the forest, Wilson and his team found a pristine village teaming with wildlife, namely grizzly bears. For this reason, the area was called Big Bear Valley.

In the 1860’s, William Holcomb was hunting for bear. He unexpectedly stumbled onto gold in the valley. This began Southern California’s largest gold rush and brought an influx of residents to the area.

In 1888, the first Big Bear area hotel was built in 1888. The builder, Gus Knight, was just 21 years old. He felt sure the lake would bring visitors to the area.

In 1912, a resident named Kirk Phillips created a bus line that ran from San Bernadino below into the mountain region of Big Bear Valley. He got the idea while on a trip in New York City where he saw a bus line created by rows on trucks where passengers sat. His bus line to Big Bear was nothing fancy– just trucks with several rows of seats. This route, called the Mountain Auto Line, greatly increased the numbers of people travelling back and forth to Big Bear. The trip previously took two days using carriages.

In 1921 the Stillwells Lodge and Ballroom was opened by Carl and Mamie Stillwell. It quickly became famous throughout Southern California for dancing and live music by the lake. Visitors could take a swim in the pool, dine at the restaurant, play a game of tennis, or take a boat ride on the lake all from the same place. Popular bands played on site constantly, so this was a place everyone wanted to see.

Also in 1921, another soon-to-be famous landmark opened–Pan Hot Springs Hotel. Emile Jesserun bought dozens of acres of land that included a local hot spring and built the hotel on this land. This was the area’s first major resort. It was destroyed by fire in 1933.

In 1947 Tommy Tyndall, a young but expert skier, started ski schools and the Big Bear Winter Club. He decided to open a ski resort and found an ideal spot east of Big Bear Lake. In 1952, this site became the now famous Snow Summit.

During the 1950’s, Big Bear changed from a summer resort area to a year-round resort due to the growing popularity of downhill skiing. In the 1980’s snowboarding debuted and this sport also gained popularity, as did Big Bear where people flocked to do it from Southern California and beyond. Read about or, even better, visit the Big Bear Museum. This historical landmark is located in Big Bear City at the eastern end of Big Bear Airport on Greenway Drive.