Historical Society sponsors Pinecrest tour

Apr 26, 2023 | Mountain History

Pinecrest visitors will be able to eat lunch in the historic Pinecrest building. (ROW Historical Society Photo)


The Rim of the World Historical Society is sponsoring a unique tour of the historic Pinecrest Resort on Saturday, April 29, beginning at noon. All interested persons are invited to attend this tour of the private camp.

During this tour, there will be a new PowerPoint history of the resort presented by Historical Society President Bill Pumford. Visitors will be able to eat lunch in the historic, round Pinecrest Pavilion building and take a walking tour of the private grounds for only $20. Since this is a private camp and resort that can trace its beginnings back almost a century, it is a part of local history that explains a lot of why current-day mountain life developed the way it did.

Pinecrest was built by Dr. John Baylis, who arrived in San Bernardino in 1887 and became chief physician for the Santa Fe Railway, a career lasting 57 years. Dr. Baylis was one of the earliest promoters of the mountains for recreation. He was an active letter writer and, through his actions, named the Rim of the World Road, which led to bringing people to the mountains to recreate.

He was a member of the Arrowhead Mountain Club at the Squirrel Inn, which had a large initiation fee to join, which kept it exclusive. Baylis had a great love for the mountain environment, especially for its trees. When a local sawmill expressed interest in purchasing the 160 acres next to the Squirrel Inn for logging, he felt sick about the idea of all those trees being clear cut. With financing obtained on the strength of his reputation, he bought the entire parcel and began plans to build a dream resort for the working-class visitor; at that time the regular man did not have a resort he could use.

By 1907, many cabins, stables, sheds, a blacksmith shop and a main office were built in a rustic log cabin style, using trees from the property. The pavilion was unique, with a central fireplace that was also the structural support for the roof, which is still in use today. When Pinecrest officially opened in 1909, since automobiles were coming into use, a garage and even an electric plant had been built. Baylis encouraged the construction of a road that automobile traffic could use. He allowed the Rim of the World Road to transverse his Pinecrest Resort property, as some of the previous lumber roads were too steep for automobiles to use.

Then Hollywood also took notice. There were frequent silent movie location shots and Gloria Swanson and other silent stars stayed there. It had phone service so the studio people could keep in touch with their studios down the hill. Over the decades since then, much more filming has occurred.

Tickets can be purchased on the museum’s website at https://mtnmuseum.org/product/historic-pine-crest/. Contact Marilyn Mays at [email protected] or (909) 485-1153 with any questions.

The Mountain History Museum is operated by volunteers of the Rim of the World Historical Society (est. 1986) and will be open this summer at 27176 Peninsula Drive in Lake Arrowhead, from Friday to Sunday and holiday Mondays from Memorial Day through October; entry is free.


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