“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Big Bear Valley

The Lake You Love

Big Bear Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 5, 2022
1. Big Bear Valley Marker
Big Bear Lake, as you see it now, is a hub for recreation and outdoor activities. Did you know if you stood on this spot in the 1880's you wouldn't see a lake at all? Until 1885, the lake in front of you was a sprawling wet meadow laced by a gentle stream. You can still see remnants of the meadow in front of you.

As cities at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains began to grow, developers sought a water source for the citrus groves that would be their livelihood. Natural rainfall was less than ideal for growers and the Big Bear Valley held the nearest and best option to augment the limited supply. A dam was built in 1884 at the west end of the valley to create a reservoir to capture spring water and yearly snowmelt. It was a single arch granite dam, 53 feet high and 335 feet across, with a 20-foot wide spillway. Water collected in Big Bear Lake was released seasonally to the thirsty crops down the mountain. After a release, you could walk (instead of swim) from here to Big Bear's village.

From parts of the Alpine Pedal Path, you can get a glimpse of the Big Bear Lake dam. But this structure is actually
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a second dam that was completed in 1912, about 100 yards downstream of the original dam. It is about 20 feet higher than the original dam and tripled the lake's capacity. This dam was not originally designed with a bridge across the top. It was added in 1924 when the the new road from Running Springs into Big Bear was developed. Today you can see the old dam and bridge as you cross over the new bridge that was completed in 2010. When lake levels are low you can even see the top of the original rock dam.

How deep? 72 feet 4 inches at the dam.
How long? 7 miles.
How big? 73,370 acre-feet (storage capacity).
Erected by The Southern California Mountains Foundation, and US Forest Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Parks & Recreational AreasWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1885.
Location. 34° 15.738′ N, 116° 53.838′ W. Marker is near Big Bear Lake, California, in San Bernardino County. Marker is on North Shore Drive, 0.7 miles west of Stanfield Cutoff, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Big Bear City CA 92314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Big Bear Solar Observatory (approx. 1.4 miles away); Grizzly Come Home Campaign (approx. 2.4 miles away); Bellevill Holcomb Valley
Big Bear Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 5, 2022
2. Big Bear Valley Marker
Located next to the bike path.
(approx. 2.8 miles away); Woodland Club Caddy Shack (approx. 3 miles away); 5 Stamp Mill (approx. 3 miles away); Holcomb Valley (approx. 3 miles away); Old Bear Valley Dam (approx. 4.7 miles away); Champion Lodgepole Pine (approx. 5.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Big Bear Lake.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 14, 2022. It was originally submitted on May 13, 2022, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 147 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 13, 2022, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California.

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Jun. 4, 2023