Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The ARROWHEAD Landmark ~ Fact or Fiction

As I was driving home the other day, heading up HWY 18 toward Lake Arrowhead, I decided to stop at the little softball field in Wildwood Park (intersection of Waterman and 40th St) in San Bernardino, to snap a couple of pictures of the mysterious ARROWHEAD LANDMARK. The giant Arrowhead always  greets visitors to the San Bernardino Mountains, which can be seen for miles around.

FICTION? .... For centuries, The ARROWHEAD LANDMARK has been a symbol to the Native Americans and early settlers to this area. Supposedly, it is a natural landmark, consisting of light quartz which supports a growth of short, white sage.  Indians who lived in the San Bernardino Valley  long, long ago, believed that the arrowhead pointed the way to the hot mineral springs below (and IT DOES). They thought the springs held great healing powers, which made them view this land as holy ground. Even though there have been numerous forest fires throughout the years, which have caused erosion to the arrowhead landmark, it still holds its uniqueness and remains "our" symbol of the 'pioneer spirit' of time gone by.

FACT? Scientist think that the Arrowhead was formed millions of years ago when an earthquake struck the area (SAN ANDREAS FAULT) causing the mountainside to shift/slide, leaving the shape of an Arrow pointing downward.

I like to believe the first version...     

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sometime in the mid 1800's, famous Mormon leader, Brigham Young, sent 400 plus of his followers to the foot of the "arrow-marked mountain" after he had a "vision." (More about that in another post). " Years later, David Noble Smith built the first structures below the arrow, a "hot springs infirmary," (sanitarium) and opened them to the public.  Since then, three hotels with spas have been constructed.

The most recent hotel, built in 1939, remains in tact. The Art Deco design closely mimicked the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. The grand- opening brought dozens of movie-stars: the Marx Brothers, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Rudy Vallee and Jimmy Durante and many more. During the 40's & 50's, other Hollywood Stars of the time made  the resort a hot-spot when they'd flock to it for a little R & R. Some of those celebrities were Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Susan Hayward, Clark Gable, just to name a few.

My family and I drove thru the grounds years ago, and it felt as though time had stood still. The pool and the cabanas especially sticks out in my mind. I could easily visualize the "Movie Stars" of the hey-days, lounging around this fabulous place.

Other tidbits about the Hotel:

  • Elizabeth Taylor, age 17, & Nicky Hilton (of the Hilton Hotels) spent their honeymoon in the penthouse.
  • Arrowhead Springs has some of the hottest geothermal springs in the world; 212 degrees.
  • Of the 1,916 acres at Arrowhead Springs Resort 1,400 acres, or 70%, has been set aside as protected watershed and nature reserve
  • Famous "Ester Williams, Million Dollar Mermaid" filmed her movie shots in the swimming pool, which was heated by geothermal springs.
  • The Arrowhead measures 1,375 long, 449 wide & approx.  7.5 acres.
  • Since 1894, this area has been home of Arrowhead's (Arrowhead Water) first cold-water spring.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The ROAD to LAKE ARROWHEAD Began Long, Long Ago

I wrote this post in 2009.... it's worth a repeat, though. 

When driving up Highway 18 through the San Bernardino Mountains, do you ever think about how this road was constructed? The fact is, it was NO EASY task for our ancestors who "paved" the way for us. Bless them!!! And no, they didn't design and build it so they could cruise on up to Lake Arrowhead, or our surrounding towns, to enjoy the beauty here, frolic in the snow, rent a cabin for a weekend get-a-way or to ski. They built this road out of necessity.

Some 400 or 500 Mormons made their way over the CAJON PASS in 1851, down into the San Bernardino Valley and began forming a settlement. There was a desperate need for lumber in order to build homes and businesses, and the only place to find all the lumber needed would be up in the mountains. It was then decided that a road up Waterman Canyon, to the mountains, would have to take place. This would be the "first"public road into Lake Arrowhead." Or, rather, what Lake Arrowhead is today. Though it was dangerous and steep, the seriousness of the logging industry began in July 1852 and the settlers forged ahead with the construction of The Mormon Trail Road (now Highway 18).

Upper Toll HouseBeginning in 1892, a toll road (the Bear Valley Rd Company Toll Road) was completed. The story goes that folks weren't exactly pleased with the fact they now had to pay for what was free. Soon the toll booths (left photo) would mysterously be destroyed...until 1905 when the County of San Bernardino started buying up the toll and lumber roads in order to create a free county public highway.

As I was driving home one day, I stopped at the Mormon Trail Road Landmark, on Highway 18 and took a few pictures of the current monument. This happened the same day I took snapshots of the ARROWHEAD-LANDMARK and I also wrote a post (click on link).

Of course there were no pictures of the early roads, but I do have a couple of snapshot of the "dedication" (upper right) which took place on November 10, 1932, and one of the Upper Toll Road (upper left photo), THANKS to RUSS KELLER. Russ is a member of the RIM OF THE WORLD HISTORICAL SOCIETY and is a walking encyclopedia of San Bernardino Mountain history. If he doesn't know it, he'll find out. But chances are he DOES know. Russ also has a business, MOUNTAIN COLLECTOR: Collecting, Preserving &  Displaying the History of the San Bernardino Mountains. He can be contacted at 909-338-8232 or emailing him at


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