Big Bear Lake is a small city in San Bernardino County, California, located in the San Bernardino Mountains along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. Take a look below for 25 incredible and amazing facts about Big Bear Lake, California, United States.
1. The city is located about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of the city of San Bernardino, and immediately west of the unincorporated town of Big Bear City.
2. The population was approximately 5,019 at the 2010 census, down from 5,438 at the 2000 census. However, since it is a popular year-round resort destination, the actual number of people staying in or visiting the greater Big Bear Valley area regularly surges to over 100,000 during many weekends of the year.
3. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued a safety advisory for any fish caught in Big Bear Lake due to elevated levels of mercury and PCBs.
4. Big Bear Lake was inhabited by the indigenous Serrano people for over 2,000 years before it was explored by Benjamin Wilson and his party.
5. Once populated by only the natives and the grizzly bears, from which the area received its name, the population of the Big Bear Valley grew rapidly during the southern California gold rush from 1861 to 1912.
6. Grizzly bears were not found in the region after 1908.
7. Today, there are black bears in the region since their introduction in 1933, and they are sometimes sighted in residential areas.
8. A trip to Big Bear Lake from San Bernardino took two days on horse-drawn coaches.
9. Kirk Phillips was a local who took a trip to New York City and saw the world’s first bus line. This inspired him to create the world’s second bus line from San Bernardino to Big Bear Valley using White trucks with several rows of seats.
10. This made it possible for the villages to grow and for Big Bear Lake to become the first mountain recreation area in southern California.
11. Many people traveled to enjoy recreation on the lake. However, another major draw was the natural hot spring. Emile Jesserun bought 40 acres (16 ha) of land that included the hot spring and built the first major resort in Big Bear, the Pan Hot Springs Hotel, in 1921.
12. This resort was followed with others that strove to be the best by creating a country club atmosphere, complete with the amenities required to lure the Hollywood celebrities of the time including Cecil B. DeMille, Shirley Temple, and Ginger Rogers.
13. By 1924, Big Bear was populated with 44 resorts and a constant stream of vacationers. The Pan Hot Springs Hotel, like many of the other resorts and hotels in Big Bear, was extensively damaged by fire in 1933
14. For Hollywood’s film industry, the area has also been a popular place for shooting on location since the silent era. In late November 1915, Universal Studios filmed there for its three-reel production of John o’ the Mountains starring Sydney Ayres and Louella Maxam.
15. The 1920 version of Last of the Mohicans was filmed there as well, as were some scenes for the 1936 film Daniel Boone, Gone with the Wind, 20th Century Fox’s 1960 film North to Alaska, Disney’s Old Yeller, the 1969 musical film Paint Your Wagon, the 1983 movie War Games, and the 1985 “dark comedy” Better Off Dead.
16. Many television series have filmed sequences there too, including opening sequences in 1969 for the NBC children’s program H.R. Pufnstuf.
17. Winter activities are also popular in Big Bear. The first ski jump in Big Bear was erected in 1929 and quickly claimed a world ski jump record. More jumps were built in Big Bear Lake and the Viking Ski Club of Los Angeles began to use them for competition and events. The move to a winter resort town was solidified in 1952 when Tommy Tyndall opened a resort in Big Bear Lake, now known as Snow Summit.
18. In some winters the area gets little snow, but snow machines keep the resorts in business.
19. In the summer of 1968, Caltech began construction of Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) located on the north shore of Big Bear Lake. Due to extensive rain and snow, the lake rose several feet and BBSO was surrounded by water at the time construction was completed using makeshift barges in May 1970. BBSO, now operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is still a major Big Bear Lake landmark connected to the north shore by a dirt and rock causeway.
20. Since 1970, Big Bear Lake has held its annual Oktoberfest. The Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest also sports the highest beer garden, by elevation, in the United States. Big Bear Lake was incorporated as a city on November 28, 1980.
21. During the 1990s, the city became famous as a training spot for boxing champions. Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Fernando Vargas, Gennady Golovkin, and Shane Mosley are among the famous boxers who have trained at Big Bear.
22. In February 2013, a major manhunt occurred in the Big Bear Lake area to find Christopher Dorner, who by that point had killed three people. A standoff ended in nearby Angelus Oaks.
23. Big Bear City Airport, a general aviation airport in the Big Bear City section of unincorporated San Bernardino County, serves Big Bear Lake.
24. Local bus service is provided by Mountain Transit, formerly known as Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority (MARTA). Mountain Transit provides services on a fixed route in the Big Bear Valley and from downtown San Bernardino to Big Bear Lake.
25. The City of Big Bear Lake is a charter city under the laws of the State of California. It operates under the council/manager form of government. The city manager is Frank Rush. The city council includes five members elected at-large. The mayor is selected annually from among the city council members. The current mayor is Rick Herrick.