Idyllwild then and now Bob Smith at ICRC’s Speaker Series

NOTE: Due to heavy snow last week, this event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 29 and will still be held at the Silver Pines Lodge.

Although local historian Bob Smith is an accomplished writer, in his upcoming appearance for the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council’s (ICRC) popular Speaker Series, he is trusting that pictures can often tell stories more compellingly than words.

For this event, Smith teamed with local photographer John Drake to create a photographic retrospective of Idyllwild past and present. Both will present Wednesday, Feb. 15 at Silver Pines Lodge.

Working from archival photos of historic Idyllwild sites and structures, Drake, using trees and ridgelines for reference, shot from the same angle and distance as the original photographer did to produce the archival photo. The result of this attempt to duplicate the perspective, according to Smith, is a photo journal of Idyllwild and parts of Pine Cove and contrast what townspeople once had and now have.

Smith mused over how, in the 1930s and 40s, Idyllwild was a recreation paradise with an outdoor pool, golf courses, tennis courts, lawn croquet, ski rope tows and stables that packaged, under the auspices of the Idyllwild Inn, overnight horse trips into the backcountry accommodating patrons in luxurious tent setups. Sporting a modest weekday population but weekend population over 1,000, Idyllwild was then, according to Smith, much more of a cabin getaway town with outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities.

Longtime residents will remember many of the buildings, venues and sites that will be featured in Smith’s retrospective. Recently arrived residents will have an opportunity to savor Idyllwild then and now. Smith’s favorite pairings (past and present) are of the Idyllwild Inn’s tennis courts and the now empty space between the Ink bookstore and Honey Bunns and Joe Bakery and Silver Pines Lodge now and in a previous incarnation as the Rustic Tavern.

At this point Smith and Drake have no plans for an in-town exhibition. “Exhibition space is the problem,” said Smith. At some point they may mount an online exhibition on the Idyllwild Area Historical Society website. They have discussed putting this out as a book through Arcadia Publishing, the house that published Smith’s “Idyllwild and the High San Jacintos.”

Smith’s presentation begins at 6 p.m. at the Silver Pines Lodge. A wine and cheese reception precedes his talk at 5:30 p.m. Both are free to the public.