The call of the wild! What pictures the phrase brings to the mind at this season, the spring of the year when the blood is pulsating with renewed life and when the spirit of man hungers for the outdoors.
Visions of pine-encircled lakes, flower sheets on deeded subdivision land, making a total of of hamlet—and tree-gemmed valley, there a jeweled mountain peak piercing the skies, and at the top of the trail great open spaces, where in the moonlight on cottage doorstep one may push away the trifling cares of the valley and get acquainted with oneself as a careless person.
No wonder the wild calls to so many thousands each year.
And where could the wild be more fascinating than in the San Bernardino Mountains, or where its call more clear or more insistent? For the wild to the up-to-date traveler does not mean inconvenience; it is the call of the open in a land where every possible need of the traveler is catered to; where physical cares are sloughed off and the spirit is left free to drink in the beauty and peace of nature.
Feeling this insistent call o’ the wild then, what more logical thing to do than to start in your automobile or take the bus and bring along your fishing equipment and hiking togs and in the greatest of ease and comfort take a week-end trip over the sun-spangled Rim O’ the World to Big Bear Lake in the Valley of Big bear.
Here you will find true hospitality and an ever-pervading spirit of the Old West and many places of historic interest dating back to the days of the Dons.
After leaving San Bernardino, which is sixty-five miles east of Los Angeles, you travel north, out Sierra Way and enter the mountains, traveling over high-gear road which is kept open throughout the year by an ever-watchful and highly efficient state highway crew.
Winding and ever winding, you come upon sights that are thrilling and never to be forgotten, for the San Bernardino Mountains offer you some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Words cannot tell of the wondrous beauties that may be seen here,
In the old days it was a week’s journey from Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake, but now the trip can be made in three hours of careful driving.
Big Bear Lake, forty-five miles east of the city of San Bernardino, in the heart of the San Bernardino mountains, at an elevation of 6,750 feet, spreads 72,000 acre-feet of water behind a multiple-arch dam 72 feet in height, is seven and one-hale miles long and averages one mile wide.
The Lake lies in a valley fifteen miles long and three miles wide, with gentle sloping hills, wooded to the shoreline of the Lake with large and small pine and fir trees.
The principal business center is Big Bear Lake Village, located four miles from the dam, on the south shore. It is a well-developed business center with grocery, meat and vegetable stores, hotel, cafes, curio shops, hardware stores, a theatre, dance pavilions, postoffice, stage depot, super-service stations, garages, real estate offices, cocktail lounges, large department store, ladies’ ready-to-wear shop, barber shops, and beauty parlors, shoe repair shop, ice distribution depot, commercial boat landings, saddle liveries, shooting gallery and amusement center and seventy camps, each having from six to fifty cabins each.
The population of Big Bear Lake ranges from 1,00 people making their permanent homes to 30,000 people on holidays such as Decoration Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Years with an average population between May 15 and September 15 of 15,000 people.
Big Bear Lake grammar school has three teachers and an attendance of 96 pupils.
It also has a fully accredited high school with three teachers and an attendance of 45 pupils. There are 708 private mountain homes built on United States Forest service land at Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Lake has an average increase of 228 new mountain homes per year. The total assessed valuation of Big Bear Lake and Fawnskin district in 1940 was$2,887,130 making an increase of the total assessed valuation of the two districts of $768,590.
A survey of the United States Forest Service shows that 4,491 acres of private land has been subdivided into 24,379 building sites, and approximately 16,500 building sites have been sold.
In the same survey they show that 472 acres of government land has been subdivided into 1,096 building sites and 708 of the total have been leased and improved.
Big Bear Lake has furnished the setting for many motion pictures, and location scouts have stated that Big Bear Lake can furnish more diversified scenery than any other mountain resort in California.
These companies furnish a large revenue to the merchants of Big Bear Lake and extend the seasons as they prefer the spring and fall of the year because of the better lighting effects.
Following is a partial list of pictures taken at Big Bear Lake and an estimated amount of expenditures for locations, cost of sets, hotel lodging and meals, local labor, garage bills as well as the amount expended by members of the company for individuals.
- “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” made by the Walter Wanger Company…$200,000.00
- “In Person” made by RKO…$75,000.00
- “Having a wonderful time” made by RKO…$110,000.00
- “Daniel Boone” made by Herlima Productions…$90,000.00
- “None of Your Business” made by Paramount…$35,000.00
- “Heart of the North” made by Warner Bros….$75,000.00
- “Untamed” made by Paramount…$35,000.00
- “Brigham Young” made by Fox Production…$90,000.00
- “Shepherd of the Hills” made by Paramount…$175,000.00
The Paramount Company has filmed fifteen Westerns, some of which are Nevada, West of the Pecos, Arizona Mahoney, etc.
Estimated amount of expenditures$300,000.00 or approximately $20,000.00 per picture,
Many independent companies have also taken pictures at Big Bear Lake with an expenditure of from $3,000.00 to $5,000.00.
Big Bear Lake also has one specific and highly specialized industry, that of fox raising. There are twenty silver fox ranches, ranging in size from thirty pair of breeding stock to two hundred and forty.
Approximately twenty-five hundred silver fox pelts are produced annually, and due to the advantages afforded by this district a higher average pelt value is received by the Big Bear Lake ranchers. It is estimated that the business brings $125,000 annually to Big Bear Lake.
Cattle grazing is another of Big Bear Lake’s industries. Nearly 2,000 head of cattle are grazed under Forest Service Regulations on this area annually during the summer and early fall seasons.
Very few strangers, even the people who make yearly visits to Big Bear, ever think of anything in these mountains except the lake, which lies in the center of the valley. For those who are willing to expend the energy, there are many trails leading to some of nature’s most beautiful spots. The views to be seen are incomparable, and the true appreciation of Big Bear cannot be realized unless several days are spent in wandering through these mountains.
Aside from driving and hiking to the beauty spots of the Valley, there is a variety of other amusements to be enjoyed. Big bear Lake itself has much to offer to the pleasure-seeker. Swimming and tennis are open to all. In the evening dancing is provided with orchestras and glistening dance floors. In short, life may be one ceaseless round of activity and pleasure in Big Bear.
Big Bear Lake is considered one of the country’s best health resorts for those suffering with asthma and like ailments, and many sufferers after visiting here return to make it their permanent home.
Fishing season starts on May 1st, and many thousands come to Big Bear Lake each year to enjoy the sport. Unlike many other districts, Big Bear Lake’s season is open on all fish at the same time. There is an abundance of Bass, Crappie and Blue Gill and the women and children spend many enjoyable hour fishing for them.
One hundred seventy-five thousand six-inch trout are planted in Big Bear Lake each year by the State Fish and Game Commission. One million Rainbow eggs are taken each year for replanting in Big Bear Lake and other waters of Southern California.
Boat rentals rates are comparatively lower than many other places in the state.
Blue Gill none under 9 inches
Hunting season finds Big Bear a headquarters for the hunter. For years the lake has been a stopping place for thousands of ducks of all kinds. A natural feeding ground is afforded here which is large enough to accommodate flocks of any size.
Duck season is ushered in noisily on the morning of the first day, and thereafter the mornings and evenings are punctuated by a volley of noises suggesting a blitzkrieg of great magnitude.
Many years ago the country surrounding Big Bear Valley was set aside as a game preserve. Every sportsman appreciates the efforts of the government to preserve the wild life of the state and nation and at the same time to provide areas open to the public for hunting during set seasons.
In providing for the game preserve in Big Bear, the authorities took these elements into consideration. The edge of the preserve was located a few miles from the Valley, which provided outside its boundaries a great expanse of good deer hunting territory. It is possible for the hunter to make his daily trip into the game territory.
This preserve provides the protection needed to propagate the wild like and to supply the territory with a quantity of deer and other big game. In the Valley itself these protective measures have begun to show results among the small animals, for they may be seen now quite numerously. The protected life has made the squirrels and chip munks friendly and a pleasure to watch.
Deer season starts September 16th and ends October 15th.
Duck season date set by Federal Government.
Mountain quail season starts November 15th and ends December31st. Limit 10 per day.
Wild animals in and around Big Bear:
Adorned Shrew Sierra Chipmunk
Amer. Bay Lynx (bobcat) Kangaroo Rat
Antelope chipmunk Long Legged Bat
Anthony Gray Squirrel Merriman Chipmunk
Banning Wood Rat Mojave Desert Gopher
Brown Bear Mountain Lion
California Bat Mountain Sheep
California Blacktailed Deer Raccoon
California Gray Fox Red Fox
California Meadow Mouse San Bernardino Chipmunk
California Mule Deer San Bernardino Flying Squirrel
Civet Cat San Bernardino Spermophile
Cottontail Rabbit So. California Skunk
Coyote Wild Goat
Desert Jackrabbit Desert Swift
Fisher Ground Squirrel
Avoset Butter Ball
Blue Wing Teal Canvas Back
Bufflehead Chinese Pheasant
Gadwall Ruddy Duck
Golden Mantle Spoonbill
Greater Bluebill Sprig
Green Wing Teal Teal (cinnamon)
Jacksnipe Valley Quail
Lesser Bluebill Widgeon
Mallard Wild Geese
Mountain Quail Wild Pigeon
Mudhen (coots) Wild Turkey
You will also find a variety of 65 Beautiful Birds in and around Big Bear, of which some of the more uncommon specimens are here listed.
Allen Humming Bird Olive Sided Flycatcher
Bullock Oriole Pacific Nighthawk
California Yellow Warbler Red-Shafted Flicker
Green-tailed Towhee Say Phoebes
Horned Owl Tolmie Warbler
Laurence Gold finch Violet Green Swallow
Mountain Chickadee Western Bluebird
Nuttall Woodpecker White-Throated Swift
Here you will also find a variety of 25 trees and a great quantity of flora and fauna which will delight the heart of the naturalist. The mineralogist will also have a thrill in store for him as fold and other minerals are still being found in these mountains.
Big Bear Lake is the coming recreation center of all southern California for Winter sports.
Many thousands of visitors come to Big Bear Lake during the winter months each year to participate in the gala events sponsored by the Big Bear Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Ski equipment, toboggans, sleds, skates, etc., may be obtained in the Village at very nominal rates. Every need of the winter sportsman is carefully attended to by those who have the visitors’ interest at heart. The Big Bear ski lifts which are under the supervision of the Big Bear Park Board, are the finest in the country, and the ski jumps are open to all those who are brave enough to indulge in this thrilling sport. For those who wish to make the first attempt, advice and teaching is provided by the masters of the game.
Another winter sport which comes in for a place of great importance because of the universality of its appeal is ice-skating. Young and old together may enjoy themselves in this manner.
While many of the cities of southern California may have an indoor skating rink, nothing compares favorably with skating under an open sky and on a Lake surrounded by snow and pine trees.
Come! Enjoy yourself in the hills and dales of the San Bernardino’s at Big Bear Lake. Leave all worry and cares behind; relax and enjoy the quiet solitude and listen to the sweetest music ever; the whispering of the pines and the trickling of the streams as they go wandering down the mountainside.
Take a trip to Bartletts Lake where you may still see many of the movie sets left there after the filming of some of the foremost pictures and to Bluff Lake and along skyline drive, which overlooks the Santa Ana with old Greyback in the distance. Truly a wonderful and awe-inspiring sight.
Let us visit Holcomb Valley just over the hill from Big Bear Lake to the north and relive the days when history was in the making during the gold rush days of the old California, visit all the points of interest. Go up Marble Canyon and Burnt Flat to the rim where you may look down hundreds of feet to the far-stretching desert below and wonder how it all could be; and then return by way of historic old Doble Mine to a point where you may see mountains, lake and desert at the same time.
There are many of these trips and many more sights to see that are just as wonderful, and so I say again:
When your feet begin to itch
And your mind begins to rove,
Come up to old Bear Valley,
The place you will always love.
Where God is in His heaven
And all is well with Him,
Where health is wealth, my brother,
And friendship never dims.
Where the sweet songbirds warble
Where beauteous flowers bloom,
And all outdoors is heaven
Clear up to the moon.
So pack your duds and duffle
And come along, I say,
Do not linger longer,
Get on your way today!
Up winding trails, through Forest Glen
And bring along your Sally,
And Mary and Pete and Lucy and John
To dear old Bear Valley.
In closing, the American Legion wishes to extend its gratitude to the Big Bear Lake High School for their courtesy in extending to us the privilege of using items in the preceding sketches, from their copyrighted booklet, “Big Bear Panorama.”
Also to the Bear Valley Development Co. for the service they have rendered.
W.C. MacCallum, Editor.