January 22, 2020
By Bill Pumford, Image from Russ Keller Collection
CATTLE IN THE MOUNTAINS: LAST ROUNDUPS: This week’s image is a photo of cowboys working in Little Bear Valley. This story of cattle in the San Bernardino Mountains is a continuation last week’s column. A number of trails were available for the cowboys to drive their cattle to market in September after the summer grazing. There were instances of driving cattle down Waterman Canyon to San Bernardino and down City Creek Road to East Highland. Most cattle, however, were driven down Van Dusen Road to Victorville, or down Cushenbury Canyon to Lucerne Valley. During the latter part of the 1930’s and into the 1940’s the cattle industry in the mountains began to wane. There were various reasons for this but primarily it was the development of homes, resorts, and camps which took away much of the better grazing areas. The Upper I.S. ranch, as an example, sold their ranch and grazing acreage for development which later became Moonridge near Big Bear. At the local golf course cattle would wander over the turf creating great holes, which angered the course owners. This should not have been too surprising since the cattle previously grazed there. Development also occurred in Crestline and Lake Arrowhead which helped to further push the cattle ranchers off the mountain. Building of dams for the creation of Lake Gregory, Green Valley Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Big Bear Lake removed many acres formerly available to the cattle ranches for grazing. Yet another reason for the decline in cattle ranching were changes in grazing regulations by the Forest Service. To prevent overgrazing, districts were established that regulated the number of cattle and sheep that could be grazed on each area. The ultimate result was the disappearance of cowboys and cattle ranches across the San Bernardino mountains — a fate shared earlier by the logging industry.