By Douglas W. Motley
The Mountain History Museum, which is operated by the nonprofit Rim of the World Historical Society, reopened for three days, just in time for President’s Day weekend, on Saturday, Feb. 19.
According to historical society co-founder and past president Rhea-Frances Tetley, this is the first time in over 20 years that the museum has had a scheduled, wintertime opening. Tetley told The Alpine Mountaineer on Tuesday, Feb. 22 that the next scheduled reopening is set for the second weekend in April, just in time for spring break, on April 9 and 10.
Noting that admission to the museum is free, Tetley said that, during last week’s three-day opening, more than 200 persons visited the museum. “This is more than we get on some weekends during the summer, so this was quite a momentous occasion,” she said.
Tetley added that the museum’s bookstore sold a lot of historical merchandise, which included colorful rocks, raccoon skin hats and books on the history of the mountain communities, of which she has authored two on the history of Crestline and two more on Lake Arrowhead. The museum also has displays on most of the individual mountain communities and movies filmed on the mountain.
On President’s Day Monday, many local residents, as well as first-time visitors who came from as far away as San Diego and the Los Angeles area, showed up to see the recently expanded museum exhibits on local history, dating back to the creation of the mountain by geological forces to the indigenous peoples (Serrano Indians) who had been visiting the mountain for thousands of years during the summer to hunt for wild game and to collect acorns, which they ground into a flour-like paste to make bread. Later visitors included Father Garces, who came across Monument Peak (in current day Cedarpines Park) in 1776. Garces was followed 50 years later, in 1826, by Jedediah Smith, who proved, once and for all, that California was not an island and that it was actually connected to what is now the continental United States.
Gary Bancroft, a 10-year resident of Valley of Enchantment, who, like Tetley, is a museum docent, was at the museum on Monday and said he had learned things he hadn’t already known about his hometown. “I was amazed by all the new displays. I’m a historian by avocation and a former ‘Humbug’ (president) of the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus (a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West).”
Bancroft was visibly impressed by the many new displays, especially the indigenous animals on display in a large addition to the museum that, at one time, was the kitchen of the former fire station, now occupied by the Mountain History Museum at 27176 Peninsula Drive, just around the corner from Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School.
Echoing Bancroft’s exhilaration was Crestline resident Shannon Sukobaty, who offered, “I’m super excited about all the new exhibits.”
According to Cindy Burnett, past president of the historical society, the museum, which is normally closed during the winter months, is open to tours which can be scheduled, year-round, by interested local organizations and school groups by logging onto the society’s website at www.mtnmuseum.org or by calling (909) 744-8625. Persons interested in becoming historical society members can also do so by logging onto their website or by writing to them at P.O. Box 1550, Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352.
Member-only benefits include yearly tours of places of historical interest, such as the Tunnel Tour beneath Lake Arrowhead and the annual Lake Arrowhead Wooden Boat and Car Show, as well as receptions and the annual ice cream social and holiday season (Christmas) dinner. Members also are entitled to a 10-percent discount on books and other gift items in the museum store and online.