The last time we went up to lake arrowhead for the Christmas holidays, we did so when a 3 foot snow fall occurred in 2005.

When we arrived up there it was about 18 degrees, the air was crisp and clean and the crowds light and it was in the middle of the week. Having previously lived in the mountains we knew that the best time to go up to any event, say like they used to have at Santa village, the crowds were always lighter.

This year, no snow has fallen but I am pretty sure that by the Christmas holidays there will be plenty of snow on the ground. In past drought years they have actually made snow just for the village and the surrounding Christmas venues.

This year the Christmas celebration will run from November 1st thru December 31st. The main Christmas light ceremony will take place on November 28 at 6:30 PM. regardless of weather conditions.

November 28 thru December 24 Santa will be on scene weekends only starting at 12 noon. If the crowds warrant they will make arrangements for Santa and his elves to make more frequent appearances.

The History of Lake Arrowhead

The first white man ever to set foot in Little Bear Valley (now known as Lake Arrowhead) was a fur trader, who was a partner of Jedediah Smith, in 1826. 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 were finally killed in a fight with the white men of Little Bear Valley, resulting from the Indians setting fire to one of the white men's cabins.

At the same time, a more peaceful tribe of Indians, the Serranos, lived very near 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 attraqction 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 their only diversion was to snow shoe 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, 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 switchback road. Construction of the dam for the reservoir started in 1893. "Camp 1" on the north slope of the valley served as living quarters and messhalls 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, 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 to be the bottom of the lake, so that 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 of tunnels were completed, when it became known that the State ruled in favor of the ranchers on the upper desert side of the mountains, who relied on the water from 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 from continuing with 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 Lake and surrounding land (approximately 4,800 acres) in 1920, and changed the name to Lake Arrowhead, deriving the name from the rock 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.

Gary Hall, the ghostpainter

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