July 18, 2019
By Ken Brafman, Image from ROWHS archives
TITLE: SKYLAND: EARLY CRESTLINE: This week’s image is a real photo showing the entrance to Skyland in 1922 which was at the western corner of Skyland Drive and Crest Forest Drive. The site is now fully residential, and no artifacts of the grand structure remain. Just southeast of Top Town Crestline and right below Crest Forest Drive is an original neighborhood known as Skyland. The area became very popular for camping starting in the 1870s into the early 1900s. The mountains were prized by families for the moderate climate and flat areas to facilitate campsites. The beauty of the mountains and the trees was a big draw. Overlooking the narrows of the Rim of the World Highway, as well as being perched on the ridge above Highway 138, with Skyland being situated right at the mountain’s edge the valley was laid out as far as the eye could see. Better yet on clear days the Pacific Ocean came into breathtaking view, including Catalina Island. Water and electricity would soon become available, which led to the Skyland area being further developed as a tourist destination. Beginning in 1905 a three-rail system was devised which would climb 4,500 feet from Waterman Canyon and connect to a large concrete terminus at the edge of Skyland. The primary purpose of the Incline Railroad was to haul many tons of bags of concrete from the valley to the terminus which were then hauled by horse-drawn wagons to the construction site of the Little Bear Dam. This dam project would eventually produce Lake Arrowhead. As a result of numerous accidents and breakdowns, the railway was scrapped after a couple years of operation. The large concrete terminus can still be found atop the ridge, and the surviving railway piers are great sport for hikers. The popular Skyland Inn was built in 1902. The grounds had campsites and many activities were included. In July 1911 a fire swept up from Waterman Canyon which persisted for two weeks. Camps, cabins and commercial buildings were destroyed. Skyland sustained the greatest damage in the Crestline area as a result of the 2003 Old Fire, destroying 35 homes. Skyland remains a great neighborhood to live in and is steeped in mountain history.