History of Green Valley Lake

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  • 1880’s Timber claims made on Green Valley area by Highland Lumber Co.
  • 1891 Highland Lumber builds City Creek Toll Rd. (Hwy 330) Took lumber from Fredalba to Molina Box Factory to make orange crates.
  • Toll house (the "Welcome Inn") for road to Big Bear, circa 1890

    Toll House near campground (Lilleberg Museum)

  • 1892-4 Horse trail from Fredalba lumber camp to Big Bear widened into toll wagon road by Bear Valley Wagon Rd. Co. Eleven-room Toll House was near entrance to campground. They gave the name of Green Valley to the area.
  • 1893 San Bernardino National Forest “Reserve” created.
  • 1894 Ben Pitts operates tollhouse each summer. Grows huge potatoes to serve guests.Leaves in 1902 to open hotel in Redlands.
  • 1899 Highland Lumber Co. bought out by Brookings Lumber Co.
  • 1900 Brookings begins laying narrow gauge railroad tracks in Running Springs.
  • 1903 Tillitt family settles in Green Valley to run the tollhouse for Bear Valley Wagon Road Co. George and Demaris (May) have three children. For 17 years they run tollhouse, general store, garage, and maintain the road. Send Jefferey Pine seeds to South Africa for British government. They spend winters at house on Del Rosa.
  • Trucks converted to passenger vehicles used to transport people                         on toll road to Big Bear

    1915 Trading Post and Gas Station (Lilleberg Museum)

  • 1904 Brookings hauls 27 ton locomotive up mountain by 6 wagons pulled by mules.
  • 1911 County purchases toll road. Brookings rail reaches almost to Green Valley. (Lighteningdale)
  • 1912 Green Valley area clear-cut except for Tillit’s homestead area (now campground)
  • 1913 Brookings sells out and moves to Oregon. Most of the land bought by Marion Shay for cattle grazing.
  • 1915 Trading Post and gas station built next to tollhouse. Tillitt improves Fawnskin road for automobiles for the county.
  • 1923 Deep Creek Cutoff completed (Hwy 18) to Big Bear. Nicknamed “Arctic Circle”. Cuts off Green Valley.
  • 1924 Harry McMullen (Green Valley Mac) buys up property with idea of the dam; he sells the idea and the land to DeWitt-Blair Co. who are financed by Union Bank. Contractors Clinton, Code, & Hill design the dam, the subdivision, and a water system. Mac was a fishing guide that led parties on horseback to the Deep Creek area.
  • 1925 Dam construction begins along with roads. Financing was for $85,000. Also in 1925:San Bernardino National Forest created. “Inholdings” remain private property.
  • Dam Construction 1925

    GVL Dam under construction 1925 (Lilleberg Museum)

  • 1926 Dam finished. Lake is 8.5 acres. First lots to sell were the Tillits homestead lots that were saved from the logging in 1912.
  • 1928 Lake stocked with trout for members of “Top of the World Club.” Clubhouse burned down in 1959 and site is now Community Center.
  • 1929 Developers went bankrupt and Union Bank sold out to Bank of America in 1932. Capital Land Co. took over aggressive promotional campaign.
  • 1934 So. Cal Edison ran power lines into the valley. By late 30’s land sales were good.
  • 1935 Green Valley Mutual Water Company formed
  • 1938 Flood almost destroys dam. Jim Reid clears debris from spillway averting disaster.
  • Jim Reid of Green Valley Lake

    Jim Reid (Lilleberg Museum)

  • 1939-40 Les Salm operates ski run on “Suicide Hill” on south side of the campground. Had 300 ft. rope tow powered by 7 hp. engine.
  • 1940-41 Additional rope tow 150 yards east added using an automobile engine.
  • 1942-45 Mountains closed to all but local residents because of WWII.
  • 1945-46 Joe Fox and Laurence Ferguson move ski run equipment to present location.
  • 1950 Bob and Doris Wubben buy the original rope tow and set up 2 toboggan runs on Suicide Hill. They were about 500 ft long. The Wubbens commuted every snow season weekend from Torrance.
  • 1953 Toboggan runs close due to cost of liability insurance. Wubbens used the equipment to build a small private ski run in back of their property; closed in 1962.
    1973 Don and Ann Howe and Lyle Ferguson run the ski area. It was called the Snow Bowl. They continued to own it for the next 25 years.
    Around 1998, the Peake family take over the Ski Hill – It is renamed “Big Air Green Valley”.  A chair lift system is brought in from Colorado.
  • 2006 Roger Lee who grew up in Green Valley Lake and learned to ski on our own ski hill, competes in the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy.
  • On Oct. 22 2007, the Slide Fire, pushed by severe Santa Ana winds, burns 12,759 acres and surrounds Green Valley Lake, destroying over 100 homes and three businesses, including Fox Lumber and the ski hill out buildings and ski lift. The cause was embers from the Sept. 14-21 Butler II Fire, which began from embers of the Butler I Fire, which was caused by a lightning strike on Sept. 1.
  • 2012 in the Spring a community garden is created on the same lot where the Fox Lumber store used to stand.  It becomes a community gathering place and the staging area for the Summer Concert Series.  Along with the beautification project on the corner and the “Eddie the Eagle” statue, it marks a sign of hope that the town has recovered from the fire that nearly destroyed it.
  • Photos courtesy of The Lilleberg Museum.

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