Moon Camp Secrets

Above: View from Moon Camp in Fawnskin

Harry Burden, a local farmer from Belleville, California, developed Moon Camp (circa 1920) one mile from downtown Fawnskin.  The camp given the name because of the crescent shaped store, restaurant and marina that once graced the curve of the shoreline.

At that time, part of the camp included the land directly across the road, where many of the cabins and the gas pump were located (the cement slab for the gas pump is still on the site).

In the 1920’s, the camp’s rustic cabins included one to five completely furnished rooms and spaced far enough apart to allow, “elbow room.” Reasonable rates ranged from $1.00 to $1.50 per person per day and included electric lights, fuel, towels and bedding.

Above: Moon Camp Store & Lobby

The camp store stocked daily with fresh dairy, eggs, vegetables and of course, pine nuts to satisfy the needs of those who wished to cook.

Adjacent to the camp store, the picturesque dining room served meals that featured fish caught from the lake.

Above: Moon Camp in Fawnskin Overview

At the time, Mr. Burden had a partner, Mr. W.C. McMillen, who also managed the camp. According to Shay, the Big Bear Valley Sheriff, McMillen was at the center of one of the most dangerous attacks every committed at the lake and all because of jealousy.

On September 3, 1924 the Daily Facts reported that Mc Millen and W. H. Moore, (a truck driver) were arguing over a girl (Irma Bartlett) when Moore took out a revolver and shot McMillen twice in the neck. Injured, McMillen staggered to a cabin and called for help.

He was treated by W.H. Mills at the Ramona Hospital. Later Mills called McMillen’s injuries, “miracle wounds” because the shots went through his neck without causing serious injury.

Moon Camp’s ownership changed on the late 1940’s and Burden gained new partners, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Miller. Miller’s interest (fishing and boating) motivated further development of the marina and the camp changing the rating from an A to a higher rating of AA.

Above: Moon Camp & Dock

Miller claimed he saw thousands of fish at that part of the lake and so Kay-Jak, a private fishing charter, ran its excursions from Moon Camp.

The current owners purchased Moon Camp in 1969, at that time, the land was zoned R-40, which means that there can only be one residence for every 40 acres.

Sometime between 1969 and 1988, the debate over the land became news again because of the proposed subdivision of the old resort. The Grizzly reported that Moon Camp EIR (environmental impact report) was ok and the Big Bear Municipal Water District (MWD) Board voted 4-1 to accept the report, but voted 3-2 against the subdivision.

The MWD citied concerns over the limited amount of domestic water and told the developers they could approach the board again later. Tim Krantz of Bio-Tech commented that MWD’s shore zone ordinance (over the development of shore line) required fees to be collected for habitat improvements in Stanfield Pond.

In addition, the pond needed to have culvert cutoffs to keep the water levels high even when the lake level receded. The cost of the project was estimated at $250,000.00.

As of June 16, 1988, Krantz commented that the MWD had collected only $4,000.00 and at that rate, it would take 374 years to complete the pond improvements.

I think that the future of Moon Camp should reflect its past a quiet, restful place where you will find beauty, peace and of course good fishing.

About the Contributor: Eileen Downey bought a home in Fawnskin as a retreat from the fast pace of the big city. Living here she has found inspiration, a renewed spirit, an endless amount of creativity and curiosity. Off the mountain, Eileen is an elementary teacher for children with autism but for the last three years, her passionate hobby has been to collect, read, and sort through the history of Fawnskin and its founding settlers. She hopes you will enjoy her series and be inspired by the first Fawnskin residents who called themselves “Fawnskin Folks.”

If you have any additional information you would like to share, or have questions about the history of Fawnskin, please comment below.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008 and is filed under Fawnskin History, Mountain Lake Resort.

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