• Bears donate carloads of food for Thanksgiving November 17, 2018
    It was a sunny day Nov. 16 as the normally quiet American Legion Post 584 on Big Bear Boulevard suddenly saw a row of cars pull up.
  • Snow Summit opens for business November 16, 2018
    It’s opening day and the riders are ready.
  • Reported fire is trash can flame November 16, 2018
    A reported structure fire on Moonride Road in Big Bear Lake appears to be a minor incident of a fire in a trash can.
  • Instacart arrives in Big Bear November 16, 2018
    There’s a new delivery service in town, and Big Bear area residents can place their orders.
  • Snow time survey November 15, 2018
    Check all that apply.
  • Fire reported at Big Bear lodge November 15, 2018
    Bear Creek Resort in Big Bear Lake reported a fire at the facility Thursday morning. No one was occupying the units involved at the time.
  • Harvest Bazaar at Bear Valley Church November 14, 2018
    The Bear Valley Church Women’s Ministry team has handcrafted items and baked goods for sale just in time for the annual bazaar. The Harvest Bazaar is Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at…
  • Register for college classes in Big Bear November 14, 2018
    San Bernardino Valley College classes for spring 2019 are available for registration. Come to Big Bear High School Saturday, Nov. 17, for Super Saturday — an opportunity to apply for SBVC, talk to counselors and financial aide personnel, as well…

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.