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In 1891 a group of Ohio businessmen formed a company to construct a reservoir to provide water to irrigate the southern California lowlands. Lake Arrowhead, the resulting reservoir, is much more than simply a source of water. The self proclaimed "Jewel of Southern California" nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains has a rich history and a charming town to explore.
The Arrowhead Reservoir Company, under the presidency of James Morris Gamble of Proctor and Gamble, began construction on a dam on the East end of Little Bear Valley. In 1905 the property came under the control of the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company. The semi-hydraulic earth-filled dam was under construction from 1895 through 1915. By 1911, Lake Arrowhead, then known as Little Bear Lake, had filled enough to attract campers and anglers. The lake continued to fill until 1923, but by then it was under the control of the Arrowhead Lake Company. A court order prohibiting the use of water outside the natural watershed ended the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company. The Arrowhead Lake Company changed the name of the lake to Lake Arrowhead and named the lakeside development Arrowhead Woods for a natural rock formation on the face of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Today the lake is privately owned and operated by the Arrowhead Lake Association. There is no public access to the lake. Only Arrowhead Woods property owners and their guests are allowed on or in the water. Most of the development around Lake Arrowhead is residential, and about 53 percent of the population is made up of full time residents. Visitor accommodations range from cabins to hotels, motels, and condos. There is a campground nearby with restrooms, showers and RV hookups. There are also several charming bed and breakfasts with a view of the water.
Recreational opportunities on Lake Arrowhead include fishing, boating, and sailing. The lake is stocked with trout, and there are healthy populations of bass, crappie, sunfish, and carp along with kokanee salmon. Because the lake is privately owned, boating is pleasurable with no overcrowding. Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club promotes sailing on the lake. Every year the lake hosts an Antique and Classic Wooden Boat Show.
The Village at Lake Arrowhead has shopping and restaurants. There is a free summer concert series and an Oktoberfest, both of which are very well attended. Even without water access, there is plenty for visitors to the Lake Arrowhead area to do, and at just 90 miles from Los Angeles, it is very accessible.
Lake Arrowhead is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. Created in 1907, the forest encompasses 676,666 acres with camping, boating, and wildlife viewing. The Arrowhead Ranger Station in Skyforest is nearest to Lake Arrowhead. The Rim of the World Scenic Byway is a 110 mile stretch of road on the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains from Cajon to San Gorgonio Pass, and it is an easy drive from the lake.
The charm of the surrounding communities and the natural beauty of the San Bernardino Mountains draw thousands of visitors to Lake Arrowhead every year. The private nature of the lake maintains the peace and tranquility that has made this southern California jewel a resort area for over a century.
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