bats flying around a tree during Halloween in Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Ghosts & Ghoulish History

Posted: 09/30/22

The Big Bear valley has a long and storied past from the indigenous Yuhaaviatam, to the Gold Rush craze, to the formation of today's Big Bear Lake, and much much more. It only makes sense that a few of the souls who called this valley their home would still be lingering centuries on reminding us of the history that surrounds us all.

Captain's Anchorage

The local surf n' turf house, Captain’s Anchorage, was originally known as the Sportsman’s Tavern. A man named George was the accountant when the tavern was owned by Andy Devine. One day, George mysteriously died and the cause - or culprit - has never been determined. While some say George committed suicide, local lore suggests that he was suspected of embezzling quite a pocketful of cash before his mysterious death. To this day it is believed that George haunts the Captain's Anchorage in limbo between this world and the next. Employees - former and current - claim they can hear George's rattling of pots and pans and loud tromping upstairs, but his habit of hiding silverware, glasses, and other items can get aggravating at times!

Patio seating at Captain's Anchorage is lit in the evening with beautiful accent lighting.

The Captain's Anchorage offers beautiful patio seating.

Holcomb Valley Ghost Towns

After Bill Holcomb's initial discovery of gold in the area that would later bear his name, three wild west towns popped up to support the mining efforts that would take place over the next couple of years. The Gold Fever Trail is a self-guided, off-road tour of the Holcomb Valley ghost towns and offers a fascinating glimpse into a long-gone world. While remnants of mining activity can be found, some of the more ominous reminders of the wild west days include the Hangman's Tree, Wilbur Grave, and Ross Grave.

Doble Cemetery

After the abandonment of Belleville in 1862, the 'second Gold Rush' of 1873 was started by Elias 'Lucky' Baldwin in the area known today as Baldwin Lake. The mining town of Bairdstown - later renamed Doble - included saloons, hotels, restaurants, blacksmith shops, and the like. Being the wild west, fist fights and shootings were the norm and a local cemetery was needed. While few reminders of Doble exist - like the ruins of the Lucky Baldwin Mine - the Doble Cemetery still sits just off of the east end of Holcomb Valley Road with about 25 marked graves.

White crosses mark graves of the unknown at Doble Cemetery in Big Bear Lake.

White crosses mark graves of the unknown at Doble Cemetery. Bending Energy Photography

The Legend of Castle Rock

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Big Bear valley's indigenous peoples were known as the Yuhaaviatam. One legend tells of the tragic story of a particular Yuhaaviatam lady named Wyhnemah. All the young men of her tribe were constantly competing for her attention, but she only cared for one young man named Pahwek. He was a hunter and whenever he was gone to get food for the tribe, Wyhnemah would climb to the top of Castle Rock and watch for his return. When she would see him in the distance, she would climb down and run to meet him. One day, Pahwek left on his usual trip but never returned. As the days and weeks went by, Wyhnemah came to realize that something was terribly wrong and that Pahwek wouldn't be coming home. Not wanting to live her life without her true love, she climbed to the top of Castle Rock one evening and with a prayer on her lips, stepped off the edge to join Pahwek forever in the happy hunting ground.


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