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BEST KEPT SECRETS ON THE MOUNTAIN

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Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 12:00 am

Twin Peaks Was The 'Gateway To Arrowhead'

By Joan Moseley

Twin Peaks. . . Twin Peaks. . . it sounds like a good title for a creepy TV mini-series by David Lynch! Oh, that's right, it was all the rage in the early 90s and although the series wasn't based on OUR Twin Peaks it definitely shared some similarities, not the least of which was some of its interesting characters.

Like most of the communities in the San Bernardino Mountains, the small community of Twin Peaks has been around since the late 1880s and by the early or mid 1900s was beginning to take on a character all its own. While many local mountain communities began with the lumbering business, Twin Peaks has its roots - literally - in the ground.

Early on, in 1865 berries were grown in the area. An early resident, Bart Smithson came to the area as a logger and met with tragedy on many levels. His son Albert died of diphtheria in 1873 and he failed at raising cattle and running a hunting camp. He eventually turned to growing strawberries and named his homestead the Strawberry Farm. The area was developed for weekend cabins in 1914 when Ranger O.A. Chandler staked out 25 lots for campers or for cabins and by the following year there were a lot of new cabins built on government lots sprinkled throughout the area.

Originally known as Strawberry and Strawberry Flats, early photos of the area show an abundance of trees with wide-open spaces. By 1916 there were enough full-time residents they applied for a post office in the area, requesting the name of the town be designated as "Strawberry." However, that idea didn't fly because there was another community with that name so the residents accepted the name of "Twin Peaks" for the two, distinctive peaks located nearby.

Even though residents could not officially use the name Strawberry Flats, the name has not died on the vine. Today the fire lookout tower originally constructed in 1924 still stands, although it had to be renovated in 1934 after it was struck by lightning and burned. When it was rebuilt, members of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) performed the renovation and today it remains one of the mountain's best, and most visited, fire lookout towers.

Strawberry Flats was a fantastic camping area and in 1914 forest ranger O.A. Chandler offered 25 lots of a summer home tract to the public for an annual lease fee of $25. The lots were quickly snatched up and eventually more and more properties were purchased and opened up for public use, either for camping or cabins. By the early 1920s, the community consisted of 62 cabins, a campground, a business center and tennis courts. It must have been a bustling place where people could go to enjoy the solitude, yet still have recreation and supplies close by.

The long-gone, but nonetheless famous Squirrel Inn was constructed in 1892 just off Hwy. 18 at what is now the Twin Peaks turnoff.

The Inn consisted of a central lodge and log cottages but it was not open to the general public until 1896. Fire finally proved to be the downfall of the venture and although the complex was rebuilt it was abandoned as a business venture.

Two of the earliest complexes mentioned in local history books are the Antlers Inn and what is now the Pine Rose Cottages.

The Antlers sprang up in 1919 when 20 cottages were constructed. A lodge, originally called the Alpine Terrace Resort was constructed along with a four-bedroom home and the entire complex made up The Antlers Inn. Several years ago the restaurant received a new facelift and remains open to this day, inviting customers who want to breathe in the history of the old site and enjoy a delicious dinner at the same time.

Now the old run-down, unsafe cabins are being renovated and the difference is quite astonishing and inviting.

Current Pine Rose Cabins owner David DuFour says that Bert Switzer - one of the first full-time rangers to serve the area - his wife Sara and his family stayed in what is now the site's "Cabin 3" and that underneath it is a well that still pumps water. The first year they stayed at the site the family ran a retail store which then expanded into the first post office where Mrs. Switzer served as postmaster.

Camping spaces were offered for rent but DuFour believes that what was to become Pine Rose was probably the only year-round resort in the Twin Peaks area at that time. DuFour said Switzer was quite a botanist and he planted pine roses, a type of cedar. When he and his wife purchased the property the DuFour's decided to name the resort after those beautiful trees.

Between the Switzer's and the DuFour's there were Helen and Fred Dowd who purchased the Hwy. 189 property in the 1950s in a land exchange with the Forest Service.

Their purchase included what cabins were left from the earlier development and they soon started constructing more. The couple named the property Arrowhead Road Resort which was appropriate because in those days Hwy. 189 was the road to Lake Arrowhead. At this point Hwy. 173 had not been constructed from Hwy. 18 into Lake Arrowhead Village so all travelers had to go through Twin Peaks in order to get to Arrowhead.

During the years the site was owned by the Dowd's, advertising brochures stated the daily rate for two people ranged from $6 to $7.50 (and up) and the site was located "two blocks from a complete shopping center." Arrowhead Road Resort featured a swimming pool and a TV lodge room. In the early days of television having a TV in every cabin was probably something unthinkable, but today each cabin has at least one. During the '50s there was daily bus service to the area from San Bernardino and people who wanted to stay at the resort could make reservations by calling "LA 3341" and then, if necessary, take the bus to the mountains.

The DuFour's purchased the site in February 1993 and they have spent a great deal of time (and money) renovating the cabins. They offer small cabins just right for two or four people clear up to large four to seven bedroom lodges which can accommodate as many as 22 people.

David DuFour proudly says that his latest project has been the addition of a beautiful creek and pond that looks totally natural and has proven to be a very popular spot for wildlife and humans who quietly enjoy the tranquility. The couple also added a spa close to the swimming pool and it's in the shape of an arrowhead.

Today Twin Peaks is a community that acknowledges its past and embraces his present. In 1976 the county building opened and when it did the small rural sheriff's substations were closed and all the deputies moved to the new building which also houses the superior court, assessor's office and building and safety.

Two glass display cases in the lobby feature some of the history of the mountains. The Rim of the World Historical Society sponsors one of the displays and there are many artifacts and information on local Indians who used to inhabit the mountains. The other case is filled with memorabilia from the Rim of the World Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team. Both displays are quite fascinating. The county building is located on Hwy. 189 and Grandview Road. In addition to the historic businesses that still remain there are modern businesses including a computer center, full-size gym/club, a printing business and many other small businesses, the Masonic Lodge and several churches.

Meandering further down Grandview Road one finds the Twin Peaks Senior Center, the Twin Peaks ballfield (owned by the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District), senior citizen housing, a fire station, beautiful homes and Grandview Elementary School.

Anyone even remotely interested in mountain history needs to drive Hwy. 189 into Twin Peaks because it is a great place to get the feel of what the area was like so long ago.

NEXT WEEK: In the fourth and final part of our series, Joan explores State Highway 173 which runs down the back side of the mountain to Hesperia.

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