History

The History of Lake Arrowhead

 

In  

1826,  

the  

first  

white  

man  

to  

set  

foot  

in  

Little  

Bear  

Valley  

(now

known   

as   

Lake   

Arrowhead)   

was   

a   

fur   

trader,   

who   

was   

a   

partner   

of

Jedediah  

Smith.  

At  

that  

time,  

about  

40  

Paiute  

Indians,  

a  

warlike  

tribe,

used  

the  

mountains  

for  

their  

hunting  

grounds.  

They  

lived  

in  

the  

high

desert  

area.  

Many  

of  

these  

Indians  

were  

killed  

in  

a  

fight  

with  

the  

white

men  

of  

Little  

Bear  

Valley,  

as  

a  

result  

of  

the  

Indians  

setting  

fire  

to  

one  

of

the   

cabins   

in   

the   

Valley.   

At   

the   

same   

time,   

a   

more   

peaceful   

tribe   

of

Indians,  

the  

Serranos,  

lived  

near  

Little  

Bear  

Valley,  

in  

an  

area  

now  

known

as  

Rock  

Camp  

on  

the  

North  

side  

of  

the  

mountain.  

They  

did  

not  

bother  

the

settlers  

until  

one  

of  

the  

white  

men  

made  

advances  

to  

an  

Indian  

maiden,

which caused a skirmish killing both Indians and white men.

Later  

in  

the  

1860′s,  

the  

main  

attraction  

for  

the  

white  

man  

at  

Little

Bear  

Valley  

was  

logging,  

lumber,  

and  

cattle,  

and  

there  

were  

several  

saw

mills  

in  

and  

around  

the  

Valley.  

The  

first  

so-called  

“Mormon  

Road”  

up  

the

mountain  

was  

built  

in  

1852.  

The  

“Daley  

Canyon  

Road”  

was  

built  

in  

1870.

Summers  

were  

productive  

in  

the  

Valley,  

but  

everything  

stopped  

in  

the

Winter.  

A  

few  

families  

remained  

during  

the  

Winter  

months  

and  

the  

only

diversion was to snowshoe to their neighbors (usually miles away) to visit.

In  

1891,  

three  

Ohio  

businessmen  

chose  

Little  

Bear  

Valley  

as  

a  

likely

spot  

for  

a  

reservoir,  

to  

supply  

water  

to  

the  

southern  

lowlands.  

Land  

was  

purchased  

and  

water  

rights  

were

obtained.  

The  

Arrowhead  

Reservoir  

Company  

was  

formed.  

In  

1890,  

a  

tramway,  

(a  

cable  

powered  

device)

was  

built  

from  

Waterman  

Canyon  

up  

the  

mountain  

for  

the  

purpose  

of  

transporting  

supplies  

for  

the

building  

of  

the  

dam.  

However,  

engineering  

problems  

rendered  

it  

unsuccessful.  

Consequently,  

supplies

and  

machinery  

were  

transported  

via  

the  

switch-back  

road.  

Construction  

of  

the  

dam  

for  

the  

reservoir

started  

in  

1893.  

Camp  

I  

on  

the  

North  

slope  

of  

the  

Valley  

served  

as  

living  

quarters  

and  

mess  

hall  

for  

the

workers.

In   

1905,   

the   

property   

was   

transferred   

to   

a   

new   

corporation,   

Arrowhead   

Reservoir   

and   

Power

Company,  

because  

the  

idea  

of  

utilizing  

the  

water  

for  

power  

had  

been  

conceived.  

The  

dam  

is  

what  

is

known  

as  

a  

semi-hydraulic  

fill  

dam.  

It  

is  

200  

feet  

high,  

720  

feet  

long,  

and  

1,100  

feet  

thick  

at  

the  

base.  

It

has  

a  

steel  

reinforced  

concrete  

core  

wall  

embedded  

20  

feet  

in  

bed  

rock.  

The  

trees  

and  

brush  

were

removed  

from  

what  

was  

the  

bottom  

of  

the  

lake,  

so  

the  

decay  

would  

not  

be  

a  

problem.  

The  

lake  

filled

slowly from runoff.

By  

1912,  

the  

dam  

was  

80%  

complete,  

and  

work  

continued  

for  

several  

years  

after  

that.  

The  

plans

called  

for  

over  

60  

miles  

of  

water  

conveyances  

and  

tunnels.  

However,  

only  

6  

1/2  

miles  

were  

completed,

when  

it  

became  

known  

that  

the  

State  

ruled  

in  

favor  

of  

the  

ranchers  

on  

the  

upper  

desert  

side  

of  

the

Northward  

facing  

watershed,  

and  

passed  

laws  

which  

prevented  

the  

diverting  

of  

water  

from  

its  

natural

watersheds  

for  

other  

than  

domestic  

use.  

Thus  

the  

company  

was  

stopped  

with  

continuing  

its  

plan  

to

transport  

water  

to  

the  

areas  

south  

of  

the  

mountains,  

and  

even  

though  

the  

lake  

was  

filling  

with  

water,  

the

project was abandoned.

The  

Arrowhead  

Lake  

Company,  

a  

Los  

Angeles  

syndicate,  

bought  

Little  

Bear  

Valley  

and  

surrounding

land  

(deriving  

the  

name  

from  

a  

natural  

formation  

in  

the  

form  

of  

an  

arrowhead  

on  

the  

face  

of  

the  

San

Bernardino Mountain, near Arrowhead Hot Springs, which is rooted in Indian legend).

The  

Arrowhead  

Lake  

Company’s  

plan  

was  

to  

develop  

the  

mile  

high  

man-made  

lake  

into  

a  

fine

recreation  

and  

residential  

area.  

Between  

1921  

and  

1923,  

the  

dam  

was  

completed  

(31  

feet  

higher  

than

originally  

planned)  

and  

a  

road  

was  

constructed  

partially  

around  

the  

North  

shore  

of  

the  

lake.  

The  

Norman

styled  

village  

which  

included  

a  

dance  

pavilion,  

outdoor  

movie  

theater,  

restaurant,  

beach  

and  

bath  

houses

was  

completed.  

Three  

hotels  

were  

built;  

the  

Arlington  

Lodge,  

Village  

Inn,  

and  

North  

Shore  

Tavern.  

A  

9-

hole   

golf   

course   

was   

built   

on   

the   

site   

of   

the   

present   

golf   

course.   

Some   

of   

the   

lake   

side   

land   

was

subdivided  

and  

was  

sold  

for  

private  

homes  

and  

secluded  

north  

shore  

estates.  

Many  

Hollywood  

stars

stayed  

at  

the  

hotel  

during  

the  

era,  

and  

some  

purchased  

homes  

in  

the  

resort.  

The  

studios  

frequently  

used

the area for making films.

A  

domestic  

water  

system,  

pumping  

water  

from  

deep  

in  

the  

lake,  

supplied  

water  

to  

homes  

and

structures.  

Strict  

conditions  

affecting  

the  

use  

of  

land  

and  

building  

Arrowhead  

Woods  

were  

recorded  

with

each tract, including the removal of trees.

During  

the  

World  

War  

II  

years,  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

Village  

was  

a  

popular  

rest  

and  

recuperation  

area  

for

service men. Because of gas rationing, tourists were scarce.

In  

spite  

of  

the  

lot  

sales,  

financial  

troubles  

developed  

and  

Arrowhead  

Lake  

Company  

went  

into

receivership.  

In  

1946,  

the  

Los  

Angeles  

Turf  

Club  

(owners  

of  

Santa  

Anita  

Race  

Track)  

purchased  

the  

lake

and  

surrounding  

properties,  

known  

as  

Arrowhead  

Woods.  

Several  

million  

dollars  

were  

spent  

by  

the  

Turf

Club,  

within  

the  

first  

few  

years  

of  

their  

ownership,  

improving  

the  

properties.  

No  

lots  

to  

speak  

of  

were  

sold

during  

the  

Turf  

Club  

ownership.  

However,  

they  

made  

several  

donations  

of  

land  

to  

various  

organizations,

such  

as  

the  

Boy  

Scouts,  

Girl  

Scouts,  

San  

Bernardino  

County,  

churches,  

and  

Sister  

of  

St.  

Joseph  

of  

Orange

(the  

builders  

of  

the  

hospital).  

They  

also  

donated  

$50,000  

for  

the  

construction  

of  

the  

hospital.  

The  

famous

North Shore Tavern was donated to the University of California and is now a popular conference center.

In  

1960  

three  

businessmen/developers  

from  

Los  

Angeles  

bought  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

and  

formed  

the

Lake  

Arrowhead  

Development  

Company.  

They  

built  

the  

present  

18-hole  

golf  

course.  

Eighteen  

residential

tracts were subdivided, also with strict deed restrictions, and included in Arrowhead Woods.

A   

water   

filtration   

plant   

was   

built   

to   

filter   

domestic   

water   

supplied   

to   

the   

Arrowhead   

Woods

residences.

In  

1967,  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

Development  

Company  

merged  

with  

Boise  

Cascade  

Corporation  

of  

Boise,

Idaho. Boise continued the subdivision of properties and developed five additional residential tracts.

In   

1971,   

Lake   

Arrowhead   

was   

purchased   

by   

seven   

businessmen   

from   

Chicago.   

In   

1973,   

Boise

Cascade  

was  

forced  

to  

reacquire  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

through  

foreclosure.  

This  

Chicago  

group  

retained  

some

of  

the  

properties  

not  

mortgaged  

by  

Boise,  

including  

some  

unsubdivided  

acreage.  

At  

the  

time  

Boise

reacquired  

the  

property,  

they  

were  

faced  

with  

the  

problem  

of  

building  

a  

new  

dam  

or  

lowering  

the  

lake  

70

feet,  

due  

to  

a  

study  

required  

by  

the  

State  

to  

be  

made  

of  

all  

dams  

in  

California  

following  

the  

Van  

Norman

Dam  

incident  

in  

the  

1971  

Sylmar  

Earthquake.  

The  

study  

found  

the  

Arrowhead  

dam  

would  

probably  

be

unsafe if an earthquake of 6.5 magnitude were to occur in this area.

However,  

Boise  

felt  

that  

the  

building  

of  

a  

dam  

should  

be  

shared  

by  

all  

property  

owners  

in  

Arrowhead

Woods,  

and  

legislation  

was  

passed  

to  

permit  

a  

bond  

issue  

to  

be  

voted  

on  

by  

property  

owners  

to  

finance

the  

building  

of  

a  

new  

dam  

downstream.  

A  

bond  

for  

seven  

million  

dollars  

was  

passed  

in  

1974  

and  

an  

earth

fill  

dam  

was  

built.  

A  

small  

lake  

was  

formed  

between  

the  

two  

dams,  

named  

by  

a  

local  

resident,  

Papoose

Lake.

The  

property  

owners  

in  

Arrowhead  

Woods  

bought  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

in  

October  

1975  

from  

Boise,  

and

Boise  

sold  

their  

remaining  

holdings  

in  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

to  

Metropolitan  

Advertising  

Agency  

in  

1977.  

In

1978,  

a  

group  

of  

investors,  

headed  

by  

developer,  

George  

Coult,  

bought  

the  

Village  

and  

Lodge  

properties,

and  

in  

April  

1979,  

a  

“Burn  

to  

Learn”  

exercise  

was  

conducted  

by  

the  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

Fire  

Protection

District,  

with  

the  

San  

Bernardino  

County  

fire  

departments  

and  

Air  

Corps  

taking  

part.  

All  

structures  

in  

the

Village  

were  

burned  

down  

except  

the  

original  

dance  

pavilion  

building,  

the  

post  

office  

and  

real  

estate

office.

The  

beautiful  

new  

Village  

was  

built  

in  

much  

the  

same  

architecture  

as  

the  

old  

Village,  

and  

the  

dance

pavilion   

was   

restored   

as   

the   

theme   

building,   

which   

now   

houses   

businesses.   

The   

Village   

includes   

a

complete   

convenience   

shopping   

center,   

restaurants,   

boutiques,   

gift   

shops,   

specialty   

stores,   

factory

outlets and lake tours on a 60-seat capacity paddle wheel.

The  

spectacular  

Arrowhead  

Hilton  

Lodge,  

now  

the  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

Resort  

and  

Spa,  

was  

built  

on  

the

site of the original Arlington Lodge and opened in November of 1982.

Today,  

Lake  

Arrowhead  

is  

not  

only  

a  

popular  

recreational  

area  

for  

visitors,  

it  

is  

also  

a  

beautiful  

year

round alpine residential community at 5100 feet elevation.

For more information on our history please visit the Rim of the World History Society website.

(Courtesy Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce)

Lake Arrowhead

Known as “The Jewel of The San Bernardino Mountains” 
 Copyright 2017  LAKEARROWHEADNEWS.COM  All rights reserved.  No material may be copied/used without express written permission. LakeArrowheadNews.com