Old Miners Days has been an annual tradition in the Big Bear Valley since its inception over 60 years ago. However, if you’re new to the Valley you might be wondering what “Old Miners” is all about.
It all started about 150 years ago, when, “There’s gold in them thar Hills!” was the cry that sparked thousands to leave their homes, jobs, and sometimes even their families and race across an untamed continent in hopes of striking it rich in the California gold fields. And nowhere did that clamorous hue ring more true than right here in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The California gold rush was triggered — when in the late 1840s a man named James Marshall found a stream in northern California, near a place called Sutter’s Mill, to be rich in the yellow mineral. Soon, thousands of “49ers” — as they were called — converged on the West in search of the precious metal.
It was another 12 years before a viable gold strike was discovered in Southern California. However, once large amounts of the priceless substance began being unearthed, news of the rich find spread across the land like a windblown prairie fire. Soon, thousands of gold-hungry prospectors were fighting their way into the San Bernardinos.
Ten years later, miners were recovering about $3 a day in gold.
It was another five years before the first real strike was made here in our mountains. William Holcomb, a youngster who walked to the West from his home in Indiana, discovered a small valley full of gold just to the north of the present Big Bear Valley. Soon nearly 1300 miners were hard at work, and some took as much as $1 from every bucket of dirt. The Valley was named for its discoverer.