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A History of Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is a man-made lake and was created in
1885, when a man by the name of Frank Elwood Brown constructed
a thin rock dam across the narrow gorge at the west end of Big
Bear Valley. Brown was a Redlands farmer who had migrated to
Southern California after graduating from
Yale in 1876. He and his partner, Edward Judson, found the climate
and red soil conditions at the east end of the San Bernardino
valley ideal for citrus farming. In 1881, they purchased 4,000
acres and incorporated the City of Redlands.
Brown needed a reliable source of water to supply his citrus
farms in Redlands. He spent much of the next two years on horseback,
searching throughout the San Bernardino Mountains for the ideal
location for a reservoir. Once he reached the narrow gorge at
the east end of the valley,
he knew his search was over. Two years later at a cost of $75,000,
Brown had created the largest man-made lake in the world.
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