Historical Timeline for Big Bear Region

The first Europeans to cross the San Bernardino Mountains was Father Francisco Garces. Coming from the desert side, he followed the ridge west of Devil's Canyon into Big Bear Valley.

Benjamin Wilson leads a posse of 22 men into the San Bernardino Mountains to search for Indians who had been raiding ranches in Riverside. He discovers Big Bear Valley and gives it the name it has today. Up until 1845, Big Bear Lake was known to the local Serrano Indians as Yahaviat, which means "Pine Place".

The Mormon settlement of San Bernardino began when Captain David Seely led the first 50 of 140 wagons and 437 people to a camp at Sycamore Grove.

The Mormons purchase the 35,000 acre Rancho de San Bernardino from Don Antonio Maria Lugo family for $77,500.

The first gold is discovered in Big Bear Valley.

The first recorded mining begins in Big Bear Valley at Starvation Flat near the current intersection of Division and Big Bear Boulevard by Joe Colewell and his party of six miners. Bill Holcomb and Jack Martin join the Colewell party at Big Bear Valley.

In late April, Bill Holcomb and Ben Choteau go to Holcomb Valley looking for gold. Testing a sample, they find gold in Carribu Creek. The group file the first mining claims in Holcomb Valley, starting Southern California's largest gold rush.

First road into Holcomb Valley is completed. Using $1500 contributed by the miners, it connected to John Brown's Cajon Pass Toll Road near present day Hesperia.

The last Indian battle in Southern California ends at Chimney Rock above Rabbit Lake after 32 days of fighting.

Barney and Charley Carter discover gold nuggets in an outcrop they staked as the Rainbow. This eventually becomes Lucky Baldwin's Gold Mountain Mine at the east end of Big Bear Valley.

On August 26, "Black Friday", saw the collapse of Comstock Lode mining stocks in San Francisco when $100,000,000 in paper value vanished. William Ralston's suicide, the closing of the Bank of California, and the resulting financial chaos had drastic effects on both Lucky Baldwin and Senator J. P. Jones. The Gold Mountain Mine was closed.

Gus Knight, Sr., dies and his Bear Valley Ranch, 600 cattle, and 25 horses are sold to Bill Shay.

The county supervisors receive a petition asking that automobiles be allowed to use the Waterman Canyon Road. A test with seven cars was made without incident. Thereafter, cars were allowed to use the road, but only on certain days and hours. E. J. "Lucky" Baldwin passes away, and Thomas H. Oxnam purchases the Gold Mountain Mine and mill in Big Bear from the estate.

John S. Eastwood is awarded a contract to build a new higher dam at Big Bear Lake to replace the Rock Dam built in 1882.

Four wealthy Redlands men purchase the old Pine Lake Hotel and its 44 cabins from Bill Glass. (Knight's & Metcalf's, original Bear Valley Hotel). The name of the resort was changed to the Pine Knot Lodge.

Bear Valley Development Company begins subdividing land around Big Bear Lake anticipating future growth.

During the winter, Pine Knot Lodge cooperating with auto dealers offered a cup to the first car into Bear Valley after March 1. Twenty five cars were in the race. It takes twenty five days for the winner to finish. They had been hopelessly stuck in deep snow.

Gus Knight purchased all the Oxnam Estate lands around Baldwin Lake and built a clubhouse and blinds for duck hunters on the north shore.

The Bartlett Brothers built a store, service station, and cafe in the heart of Pine Knot at the intersection of today's Bartlett and Village Drive.

B. G. Holmes buys the six Blair log cabins on the south side of the village in Pine Knot, and changed the name to Indian Lodge.

Margaret Betterley establishes Camp Eureka east of the Pine Knot village, on land purchased from Gus Knight.

William Cline and Clinton Miller buy 700 acres of land at Grout Creek, and begin subdividing. The area is named Fawnskin.

Gold Mountain Mine at Baldwin Lake is reopened by James G. Hulme. He begins crushing 100 tons of ore per day operating 24/7.

The Big Bear Chamber of Commerce is formed.