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O F F I C I A L
V I S I T O R S
G U I D E
How Big Bear Lake
GOT ITS NAME.
f someone told you they had just spent a fun-filled weekend at a popular Southern California resort called Yuhaviat, you probably wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Yuhaviat is a Serrano Indian word that means “Pine Place,” Big Bear Valley’s name for more than a thousand years. In 1845, Benjamin Davis Wilson rode into Yuhaviat Valley with a posse of 20 men. They were chasing Indians who had been raiding their ranches in Riverside. As they entered the valley, they found it swarming with grizzlies. That’s not a misprint, indeed they were grizzly bears! Wilson divided his men into two-man teams. Each team went out, roped a bear and brought it back to camp. They had eleven bears at the camp at the same time. This prompted Wilson to come up with the name Big Bear Lake. However, it should be noted that Big Bear Lake is a man-made lake that didn’t exist in 1845. The lake Wilson named Big Bear was actually the natural lake at the east end of the valley, now known as Baldwin Lake.
Quite a “Rich” History Big Bear Lake was once a gold mining mecca before it became a popular four-season resort. In 1860, a bear hunter named William Holcomb discovered gold in the backcountry after tracking a bear’s blood trail to a creek filled with flakes of gold. He tried to keep it a secret, but soon, word spread, and Southern California’s largest gold rush was on! From 1860 to about 1875 the area was swarming with prospectors. Today, only a few relics and structures from the Gold Rush days remain. Big Bear Off-Road Adventures offers gold mining tours all year round. Big Bear Discovery Center offers tours in the summer and provides a self guided brochure for folks who want to venture out on their own. Visitors will see actual remnants of the gold mines and learn about several sites of interest, such as Metzger Mine, Lucky Baldwin Mine, Two Gun Bill’s Saloon, Hangman’s Tree and Wilbur’s Grave.
More Historic Facts Big Bear’s first dam, completed in 1884, was soon followed by the Valley’s first hotel in 1888. In 1949 the first ski resort opened, and Big Bear Lake soon became Southern California’s favorite mountain getaway.
Museum BIG BEAR HISTORICAL MUSEUM Northeast end of Big Bear City Park off Greenway Driv, just east of the airport. 909-585-8100 • BigBearHistory.org
Gold Mining Tours BIG BEAR OFF-ROAD ADVENTURES Any Season is 4 Wheel Drive Season 909-585-1036 • OffRoadAdventure.com BIG BEAR DISCOVERY CENTER Your “Gateway to Adventure and Discovery in the Great Outdoors!“ 40971 North Shore Dr. (Hwy. 38) 909-866-3437 • SBNFA.org EQUADA OUTFITTERS Big Bear’s Outdoor Outfitters 663 Pine Knot Ave. 909-866-6186 • EquadaOutfitters.com
Pine Knot Post Office, Store & Studio, circa 1915 © Tom Core
William Holcomb, circa 1888
Main Street, Big Bear Lake circa 1940s
Courtesy Rick Keppler
© Tom Core
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