January 24, 2019
By Ken Brafman, Photo from the Rothman Collection
TITLE: SQUINT’S ‘MOONSHINE’ RANCH: This week’s image comes from a real 1920’s photo and represents a colorful period in our mountain’s past. A few miles north of Lake Arrowhead is 80-acre Squint’s Ranch. William ‘Squint’ Worthington (the tall man on the right) was only in his late teens when he started working for the Talmadge Sawmill clearing timber and brush from the bottom of Little Bear Valley, where a dam was being constructed. Some 20 years later the project would become known as Lake Arrowhead. ‘Squint’ worked in prospecting, logging and he was an expert trapper. At the sawmill he discovered that he could supplement his income considerably by supplying his fellow workers with moonshine. In establishing his homestead around 1899, which would later become known as Squint’s Ranch, he realized that the remoteness of his location was the perfect formula for increasing his moonshine operation and output. His stills became legendary in their ability to allude detection by the authorities. Forest Ranger Bert Switzer, for whom Switzer Park in Skyforest is named, may have come closest to finding the stills. For the rest of his life Switzer proudly wore his ranger cap which had earned a bullet hole in it…from his getting a little too close. His operation grew steadily so that when Prohibition hit in 1920 ‘Squint’ was in the position to make a fortune. His customers for ‘White Mule’ whiskey included the Tudor Inn, North Shore Tavern, Chef’s Inn, Saddleback Inn among other hotels and resorts. Worthington died in 1930, willing the ranch to his great grand-nephew who was his only surviving relative. Subsequent owners have included pilots who have made use of the airstrip, which was completed in 1960, as well as the ranch. A couple movies and videos have been filmed at the location over the years. With its proximity to Deep Creek various types of recreation remain popular including hiking, camping, horseback riding and prospecting.