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Category: Before Our Time

Before Our Time: Lakes on the Hill …

Before Our Time: Lakes on the Hill …

The absence of a local lake has helped shape Idyllwild’s lasting character, a fact for which many Hill residents are grateful. But as with skiing, this omission from our recreational menu has not always been overlooked. When Claudius Lee Emerson bought the Idyllwild Inn in 1917, he soon cast his eye on a recreational lake […]

Before Our Time: The Chef in the Forest …

Before Our Time: The Chef in the Forest …

A Minnesota reader, fondly recalling childhood vacations here, recently sparked my curiosity about one of Idyllwild’s more outlandish characters. In January 1966, Warren Jacober announced himself to the community with this Town Crier ad: “ATTENTION: Epicures, Gourmets, Art-lovers, Woodsmen, Housewives, Philosophers … Recipe-collectors … Brain-surgeons … Folksy Humorists … Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and any […]

Before Our Time: Idyllwild furniture …

Before Our Time: Idyllwild furniture …

Between 1925 and 1960, Idyllwild became widely known as a center for the manufacture of craftsman-style furniture. Hal Holcomb, “the Rustic Man,” started it around 1923 with his manzanita creations. When Holcomb moved away in the early 1930s, Ellis Griest and his Woodland Craft products came to the fore. But the master of the trade […]

Before Our Time: Photographers record history …

Fortunately for present and future Idyllwild residents, much of the Hill’s history is preserved in photographs. We’ve seen more than our share of outstanding photographers through the years, but the most familiar name is Gray. Father and son, Ernest Benjamin (“E.B.”) Gray and Robert (“Bob”) Gray left a legacy expressed largely in their picture postcards […]

Before Our Time: Pines to Palms before the highway …

As winter wears on, Hill residents occasionally escape the cold with a jaunt down California Scenic Highway 74 to the desert. Driving it today, we forget that prior to 1932 the only way to get directly to Idyllwild from Coachella Valley was on foot or horseback. The automotive alternative involved traveling around the foot of […]

Before Our Time: The endless discoveries of history …

Like peeling an onion, the work of reconstructing history seems never to end. New tidbits appear serendipitously and constantly. Let me close the year by sharing a sample of such footnotes that have corrected or enhanced tales told in several past columns. The first piece I wrote for the Town Crier a decade ago recalled […]

Before Our Time: Idyllwild’s early winters …

The only sustained effort to create a ski resort here in Strawberry Valley began immediately after World War II. In 1946, Jules Berkeley of Los Angeles acquired 37 acres high in Fern Valley below Tahquitz Peak, where he built Hidden Lodge. Taking advantage of a location handy to both the Devil’s Slide Trail and South […]

Before Our Time: What we do …

I’m sometimes asked what we do at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, so let me share an example. One of the minor charms of living on our Hill is celebrity sightings. While we typically associate celebrity with entertainments like movies, television, or sports, it sometimes extends to the superwealthy. Think Warren Buffett, Bill Gates … […]

Before Our Time: Sequoias, settle in here …

A grove of giant sequoias in the San Jacinto Mountains? Yes indeed! One sultry day this summer, I was hiking with friends up one of my least favorite routes, the Black Mountain Trail. The day’s weather only made it worse, but as we passed 7,000 feet and approached the saddle at the head of Hall […]

Before Our Time: Two early and longtime Idyllwild fore-fathers …

Frank Strong and George Dickinson get relatively little attention as pioneer developers in Strawberry Valley. Unlike George Hannahs, Walter Lindley or Claudius Lee Emerson, they were based in Los Angeles, and neither one resided here or took an active part in day-to-day management of their holdings on the Hill. Still, their influence was substantial. It […]

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