April 16, 2020

TITLE: COLORFUL HISTORY OF WILLOW WOODS: The popular Willow Woods area of Skyforest has had many owners over the past 90 years. In 1932 Grace and Lou Williams built several cabins and a five-room lodge that had a small restaurant. Known as the Old Homestead Camp, it opened Fourth of July 1932. Lou Williams was a motor transit operator running tourists up and down the mountain to San Bernardino. In 1932 six cabins were advertised as having gas and electricity with a bathroom and living room. Dinners were 50 cents and breakfast and lunch could also be ordered. Through the forties the camp was a favorite with fishermen who would keep it booked during trout season. In 1948 a famous cartoonist named Frank Adams and his wife Eileen bought the Old Homestead Camp. In 1950 Adams orchestrated one of the most famous April Fool’s Day pranks on the mountain by leading some local residents in hanging 50,000 oranges from pine and cedar trees along a one mile stretch of Highway 18 in Skyforest. Adams sold the property to Don McFarland in 1957. In 1961 John Koeper decided to retire from the Los Angeles Times and purchased the tract of cabins from McFarland. The camp was then renamed the Skyforest Resort and John and his wife Glenna operated the wooded acreage for 16 years. “We gave each of the cabins a name, for the flora around them,” Glenna explained. The main cabin was their home, office and lodge. During those 16 years the resort, with its quaint cottages, flourished as it was known as a great hideaway for the rich and famous from Hollywood. Johnny Crawford, from the “Rifleman” series, was a frequent guest. In 1977 the property took on its commercial look and was renamed Willow Woods when Ted and Pat Nissen purchased the property in 1984 and incorporated their businesses into a group of buildings which today make up the historic two acres of Willow Woods. By Ken Brafman, Image from Ken Brafman Collection.

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