Bats and bare tree branches are silhouetted against a night sky as the full moon shines bright in this Halloween scene.

Big Bear Ghosts & Ghoulish History

Posted: 10/11/23

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 more.

It only makes sense that a few souls who called this valley home would still be lingering centuries on reminding us of the history that surrounds us.

Captain's Anchorage

The local surf n' turf house, Captain’s Anchorage, was originally named the Sportsman’s Tavern. Owned by Andy Devine, a man named George served as the accountant. One day, George mysteriously died and the cause - or culprit - was never determined. Local lore suggests he was suspected of embezzling a pocketful of cash before his untimely demise. To this day it is believed that George haunts the Captain's Anchorage, wandering in limbo between this world and the next. Employees - former and current - claim they have heard George rattling pots and pans and stomping around upstairs. While he is a friendly ghost, his habit of hiding silverware and glasses gets 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

Soon after miner Bill Holcomb discovered gold in the valley that would later bear his name, three wild west towns popped up to support eager miners who would pour into the area over the next years. Today, the Gold Fever Trail is a self-guided, off-road tour of Holcomb Valley ghost towns and offers a fascinating glimpse into a long-gone world. Find remnants of old mining activity and ominous reminders of the wild west days like Hangman's Tree, Wilbur's Grave, and Ross' Grave.

Doble Cemetery

In 1873, Big Bear's 'Second Gold Rush' was headed by Elias 'Lucky' Baldwin in the area known today as Baldwin Lake. A new mining town called Bairdstown - later named Doble - included saloons, hotels, restaurants, blacksmith shops, and the like. Being the wild west, fist fights and shootings were regular and a cemetery was soon needed. While few reminders of Doble exist - like the ruins of 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

Big Bear valley's indigenous peoples are known as Yuhaaviatam. One legend tells of the tragic story of a particular Yuhaaviatam woman named Wyhnemah. The young men of her tribe would compete for her attention, but she only cared for one young man named Pahwek. He was a hunter and whenever he was away on tribal hunts, Wyhnemah would climb to the top of Castle Rock to 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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