Big Bear history

All About Big Bear History

The Big Bear region of California has a long and colorful history starting with the ferocious grizzly bears that once swarmed the area and leading up to its popularity as a top vacation destination in America. The backstory to our town almost makes you wish you lived in a different time; we say almost because the thought of sharing quarters with those grizzlies make us shake in our boots! Big Bear is a small town with a big story—keep reading to learn more about Big Bear history below:

Originally Named Yuhaviat

Sometimes we wonder if we would have gotten to be as popular with the tourists if we had stayed with our original name, Yuhaviat. Coming from a Serrano Native American phrase meaning pine place, however apt the original name was, when Benjamin Davis Wilson swarmed into town with a small group of men determined to get their stolen livestock back, they discovered a place that was swarming with grizzly bears, and the name Big Bear and Big Bear Lake was born. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Big Bear Lake as you see it today did not exist in 1845; the lake Mr. Wilson named Big Bear Lake is what we call Baldwin Lake today, and the current manmade Big Bear Lake was not constructed until 1885. Big Bear history has something for everyone! 

An Important Factor in the California Gold Rush

What started as a town where bear hunters made their fortune soon turned into the town where a glitterier fortune could be made. The discovery of gold by bear hunter William “Bill” Holcomb in 1860 caused Big Bear to become the hottest spot in the nation! The town expanded exponentially, but due to harsh weather conditions and a lack of drinkable water, this gold rush ended in 1862. Another gold rush occurred from 1873 until 1875, and yet another in 1894 through 1906, but none lasted, and it took a while before the true riches of Big Bear would be discovered.

Big Bear History

In a world where natural resources are becoming limited, ocean waters are becoming polluted, and city skyscrapers are blocking out the sunsets, the true value of Big Bear lies in its unspoiled natural beauty. Sunsets over the crystal-clear waters of Big Bear Lake will have even the most jaded travelers stop in awe. Even Big Bear Resort limits its developed acres, understanding our thirst for the natural.