California population: less than 500
There's a song in the air and it's not
the birds chirping in the forests, or the Eagles―the bald kind that fly
in this protected habitat. The song comes from actress
Shirley Jones who lives in Fawnskin and often lends her beautiful voice to
traditions enjoyed in this mountain resort at Big Bear Lake.
Singing at holiday celebrations in the
village or lending her voice and acting skills to events at Big Bear's
performing arts center, Jones, who first gained fame for her musical
performances in Broadway musicals such as South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel,
April Love and the Music Man, pitches in with perfect tone. Embracing local
causes such as Fawn Skin Park, the local celebrity who's also known for her
movie and television career in shows such as Patridge Family, sings more
like a nightingale when her voice resonates through the cold, mountain pine
forest during Fawnskin's annual Christmas gathering. Jones is one of the
many people bringing charm and grace to the village by the lake.
Located at an elevation of 6750 feet
in the San Bernardino mountains at the north end of Grout Bay on Big Bear
Lake, it shares a border with Big Bear City and faces directly across the
lake to the City of Big Bear Lake. It's confusing but here's the deal.
Fawnskin is a community and its adjoining neighbor, Big Bear City is also a
community. Big Bear Lake is two things. It is the name of a lake and it is
also the name of an incorporated city, the largest entity with the mountain
slopes and Big Bear Mountain Resorts in its jurisdiction.
Before skiing became an attraction,
Fawnskin was once the hub of attention. It served as a stage stop initially
and then a tourist village with hotels and dining. Nearly half a century ago
a new road was built at the base of Big Bear Dam. Traffic arriving on the
mountain from Los Angeles began turning right to Big Bear Lake instead of
left to Fawnskin.
Though it's a bit hidden, Fawnskin is
back on the map again and will continue to grow. In 1998 the Big Bear Discovery Center, a
multi-million dollar learning and community complex was built and continues
with expansion. This prototype for urban forest visitor centers around the
country is a unique partnership between the US Forest Service and San
Bernardino National Forest Association. Tourists can learn about the region through displays,
shop at the gift store and picnic at the tables offering lake views. The
Center plans to one day become the new home for Moonridge Zoo in Big Bear
While Fawnskin derived its name from
hunters who arrived in Holcomb Valley's north shore in the late
1800's and probably found skins stretched to dry in the afternoon sun, its
most notable visitors today are the families of golden and American Bald
eagles protected in this designated habitat. Eagle habitats along the North
Shore in Fawnskin are celebrated with the annual return of the golden and
bald eagles from October to March. Bring your binoculars for the annual
A visit to Fawnskin offers great
opportunities for exploration, hiking and lake activities. Several
hiking trails in Fawnskin include Gray’s Peak Trail, Cougar Crest Trail, Woodland Interpretive Trail and
North Shore Bike and Hike Trail. Big Bear Discovery Center also hosts hikes
(contact the Center for details).
In addition to the year-round
attractions, Fawnskin is home to several annual events that continue to gain
popularity. Old Miners' Days is a large celebration held in numerous
locations around the lake during the last few weeks of July. Several
Fawnskin events that are part of this valley-wide celebration are real
crowd-pleasers. Fawnskin Festival, Doo Dah Parade and the
Loggers’ Jubilee, a 50+ year tradition, all take place in Fawnskin.
The popularity of Old Miners' Doo Dah Parade
is amazing. Fawnskin's spoof on the Old Miners' Parade held the following weekend
is hilarious, zany and the costumes have become more creative each year as
the parade that initially made Guinness Book as the world's shortest parade
has grown to 45 minutes long. The
three blocks of downtown Fawnskin are lined with people who make special
trips up the mountain to see this hilarious event. Local dignitaries never
miss an opportunity to be in the parade which is planned all year long by
those trying to outdo each other with their antics and outfits.
Logger's Jubilee, Mountain Men clad in traditional garb compete in Axe
Throw, Tomahawk Throw, Pole Climb, Chain Saw, Hot Saw and Log Roll. A
women's division, plus Seed Spit and Nail Drive competitions
for kids in addition to panning for gold, attracts many who hone their
skills for the Log Saw competition held at the annual Oktoberfest at Big
Bear Convention Center. Logger’s Jubilee is held at
Pedersen Sawmill, 39115 Rim of the World Drive & Sioux Drive, Fawnskin, CA
Fawnskin Festival sponsored by Moose
Lodge is held during Old Miners' Days and includes old-fashioned fun.
Apple Pie Eating Contest and another event that's gaining attention, tAnimal
Blessings, allows participants to bring
pets as part of the merriment and celebration.
Architecture in Fawnskin provides
several great examples of turn-of-the-century (20th Century) mountain
construction. Home to some of the oldest buildings in the Holcomb Valley, Fawn Lodge
(built in 1917), Pedersen Saw Mill west of the lodge and Fawnskin Post
Office are still in use. Housing in Fawnskin is primarily privately-own cabins and homes with some rentals
available through newspapers or local Realtors. Fawnskin was once a stage stop and
also served vacationers with several lodges, camps and restaurants. A road
crossing the dam to the South Shore constructed in the 1920s diverted much
of the traffic away from the town. There are many accommodations
and hotels 6 miles around the bend in Big Bear Lake, however.
Other activities and attractions near
Fawnskin include Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) on an island at Big Bear
City - North Shore in the middle of Big Bear Lake. Its next door neighbor
also is home to the Big Bear Historical Museum, Big Bear Airport and a
fantastic art gallery, Serenity Place (see Fawnskin web pages).