The history of Lake Arrowhead begins in December of 1890 when the Arrowhead Reservoir Company (ARCo) was incorporated in the state of Kentucky. San Bernardino City Engineer, A.H. Koebig had a plan to capture the immense water shed of the west-end San Bernardino Mountains, and provide it to the valley to the south. He traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio in search of funding and there he found a group of businessmen that financed the ARCo. Major players were James Gamble (of the Proctor and Gamble Soap Co.) and James Edmund Mooney.

By the turn of the 20th century, construction had begun on a dam in Little Bear Gorge. The original design, a masonry dam similar to the one that formed Big Bear Lake, was soon found unsuitable. The new design called for a concrete core. With James Mooney leading the way with his leadership and funding, the dam was later completed, and the lake formed was named Little Bear Lake.

The dream of the ARCo to provide water to the community of San Bernardino and surrounding communities ended in 1913 when the Superior Court in San Bernardino ruled that the company could not divert the water shed, which naturally flowed to the north, to those communities in the south. The newly formed lake would soon become a recreational area.

When James Mooney died in 1919 the holdings of the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company (name changed in 1905) were purchased by a group of nine Los Angeles millionaires. They formed the Arrowhead Lake Company, razed the Little Bear Resort, re-named the lake Lake Arrowhead and constructed the Old Lake Arrowhead Village. The current Lake Arrowhead Village is located on that site with the Casino (or Arcade) the only remaining building from the original old Lake Arrowhead Village.

Click on images below to enlarge!
Little Bear Dam Construction. Pictured here in 1910 is the new design concrete corewall dam at Little Bear Gorge. Three engines and 45 ore or dump cars were used in the construction that started in 1904.

Little Bear Dam Construction. Here is another view of the dam that formed Lake Arrowhead. The engine shown in the image was dubbed ‘Black Annie’. She has been salvaged and restored and currently resides at the Nevada State RR Museum in Carson City, Nevada.

Little Bear Valley. Shown here is the Little Bear Resort – circa 1917. By 1919 the Little Bear Resort boasted a pavilion, post office, dance floor, rental cabins and dozens of boats for rent. Fishermen flocked to the lake during fishing season.

The Original Lake Arrowhead Village Under Construction. This image shows the Old Lake Arrowhead Village under construction in 1922. After the sale to the Arrowhead Lake Company, construction began on a new village. The Village was opened on June 24, 1922.

The Lodge. Opening in 1923, the Arlington Lodge was constructed adjacent to the old Lake Arrowhead Village. Later known as the Lake Arrowhead Lodge it became a popular destination for visitors to Lake Arrowhead. The Lodge was torn down in December of 1976. The Lake Arrowhead Resort sits on the site today.

Lake Arrowhead Village. The old Lake Arrowhead Village was beautiful. Here a part of the village is depicted in this 1930 image. The old village sat on Village Point, the same location as the current village. The lake is visible in the background.

North Shore Tavern. Seen here is the North Shore Tavern in 1932. The facility is now owned by the University of California Los Angeles and called the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center. The ‘Tavern’ was given to the University of California in 1957 by the then owner - Los Angeles Turf Club. UC later gave the facility to UCLA.

Village Theater. This 1951 photo shows a section of the old village. The Arden-Hoff Fountain Grill stands at the rear of the image, preceded by various shops that adorned the village. In addition to the theater - miniature golf, bowling, an arcade, boat rides and a public beach were there to entertain guests.

Fleet Review. The Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club has conducted activities on the lake for many years. This scene is their annual ‘Fleet Review’ from 1955. Of interest in this image is the very rare Chris-Craft Cobra seen at the lower left.

The Village Is Burned. The old Lake Arrowhead Village was burned to the ground in April of 1979. This was due to the deterioration of the structures. It was burned in an exercise called, ‘Burn to Learn’. The exercise was carried out by the various fire departments in San Bernardino County.

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