The Arrowhead Contributed Much To San Bernardino's History
San Bernardino’s Arrowhead has contributed much to the history of the city.
(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) New York City has the Empire State Building; San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge; St. Louis has the Arch; Keystone, South Dakota has Mount Rushmore. All powerful icons for their cities. And all manmade.
On the other hand, there’s the Arrowhead.
Located on the south slope in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, north of Wildwood Park and right above the city, the naturally-formed Arrowhead can be seen for miles around. This is partially because of its nearly 7.5-acre expanse (it’s actually 1,375 feet high and 449 feet across, though other estimates have put the shape as 1,115 feet by 396 feet).
The Arrowhead is nestled among the mountain’s 2,000 species of flora and almost 400 species of fauna. It is strikingly visible, not only due to its massive size, but also by its distinct visual contrast to the surrounding dark greasewood and chaparral. The image itself consists of light quartz and a growth of short, white sage.
Some scientists believe the arrowhead shape was formed millions of years ago when an earthquake struck the San Andreas Fault, causing the mountainside to shift, leaving the now familiar shape.
A more colorful history of the Arrowhead, however, has become legend.
According to Native American lore, a heavenly arrow from the Great Spirit burned the formation onto the mountainside, the arrow tip showing tribes a special “healing place,” of cold water streams as well as hot springs bubbling to the surface amid steam-filled caves.
It was in 1851 that 150 wagons brought around 500 Mormon settlers to the “arrow-marked mountain” as seen in a vision of Mormon founder Brigham Young. They temporarily established a colony near the mountain, thus eventually growing by thousands that would become the City of San Bernardino.
Legend has it the Mormons named the mountainside formation “the Ace of Spades.”
Around 1850, Ohioan, and self-proclaimed “Doctor,” David Noble Smith, came to California as a prospector. He claimed that a saint-like being appeared to him, telling of a far-off land with a beautiful climate and powerfully curative waters, the area denoted by a giant arrowhead formation.
The spiritualist’s search began in Texas, but in 1857 brought him to what he was to name “Arrowhead Springs,” an area near the Arrowhead, still bearing this name. Always a promoter, by 1863 Smith had developed a “hygienic infirmary” as a popular treatment for “consumption, dropsy and other incurable diseases.”
By 1889, Smith had erected a hotel on the site just below the arrow’s point. Guests regularly praised the spring’s geothermal water’s curative powers, but also the water’s freshness and clarity.
In the hotel’s basement, entrepreneur Seth Marshall set up a bottling operation for the crisp liquid, and by 1905 “Arrowhead Water” was launched on its present still-successful commercial journey. It shipped its earliest bottles to Los Angeles and today has expanded throughout much of the U.S. and into Canada.
A promoter Smith was, but a businessman he wasn’t. In 1883 Smith felt forced to lease the property and operation to a pair of Los Angeles business figures. Two years later, Smith died, and a few days after, the first hotel on the site burned to the ground.
Legends may come and go, and may expand with quaint elaboration. Smith left this vale more than 125 years ago. Times change, but what doesn’t? In spite of earthquakes and raging forest fires, San Bernardino’s Arrowhead remains. And likely always will.
The Arrowhead’s history is just part of what has taken place in San Bernardino over the past 200 years since Father Francisco Dumetz established an altar on May 20, 1810 near what is now Inland Center Mall, and named the area “San Bernardino.” In 2010, the city celebrates its rich history with a Bicentennial Celebration lasting until July.
The 2010 months-long festivities debut February 18 with a public performance of “Legend of the Arrowhead” at the California Theatre of Performing Arts. The historical musical satire focuses on the mysterious “arrowhead” on the San Bernardino Mountains, and is produced by the city’s Economic Development Agency.
In March and April of 2010 the city will conduct numerous beautification events and spearhead the March planting of, appropriately, 200 beautiful trees. On March 17, the California State University at San Bernardino hosts the 23rd Annual Morrow-McCombs Memorial Lecture which will explore “Can’t We All Get Along?,” reflections on 200 years of the city’s religious life.
April 12 will take a look at “Indi
genous Pre-Hispanic People of San Bernardino: at the university’s Pfau Library.
genous Pre-Hispanic People of San Bernardino: at the university’s Pfau Library.
The following month is slated to be a busy one, too. On May 1, the San Bernardino Symphony will perform a “Celebrate America” concert at the California Theatre of Performing Arts in honor of the city’s birthday as well as for the centennial of the Community Hospital of San Bernardino.
More music will highlight May 7 and 8 with an adaptation of Mozart’s opera “Cossi Fan Tutte” at the university’s P.A. Recital Hall.
Railroad buffs will be thrilled May 8 and 9 when the celebration debuts Railroad Days at the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum. “We’ll be bringing in steam locomotive # 3751,” Cohn says, “which actually used to serve the city.”
May 15th will launch a “countdown” celebration with an elaborate gala at the National Orange Show Events Center, with the 16th capped by a Bicentennial Mayor’s Run at the Inland Empire 66ers Stadium and a Festival of Faiths at the Western Region Little League Stadium.
May 16 will also include a Youth Safety Expo at Arrowhead Credit Union Park.
There will be a Centennial Monument rededication as well as a Bicentennial Monument dedication on the 20th at Inland Center Drive and “I” Street.
The Bicentennial Parade will start at 7th and “E” Street, ending at Meadowbrook Park, on May 22, the theme being San Bernardino from its 1810 beginning and looking toward its future. Rabbi Cohn points out, “A unique part of the parade will be the Mormon church entry with relics and costumes of the city’s earliest pioneers.”
June 17-18 will see another unique event when the city introduces the “San Bernardino’s Got Talent” competition at a location to be determined.
The festivities continue on July 4th at the Inland Empire 66ers Stadium in the Arrowhead Credit Union Park with a fireworks display unlike any the city has previously seen.
The Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous and Western Region Little League finals along with other events taking place in the latter part of 2010 will also feature a tie-in to San Bernardino’s Bicentennial, keeping the celebration alive throughout the year.
Rabbi Hillel Cohn is the chairman of the Bicentennial Celebration Committee, and Erin Brinker is the chair of its Public Relations & Marketing and Independence Day Extravaganza committees. Other Bicentennial Celebration Committee members are Jim Smith (chair of the Community Engagement committee), Cheryl Brown (chair of the Youth Council, Intergovernmental and Arts committees), Beverly Bird (chair of the Legend of the Arrowhead committee), Steven Shaw (chair of the History committee), David Smith (chair of the Finance committee), Jane Sneddon (chair of the Parade committee) and Martha Pinkney (chair of the Gala committee.)
These members were appointed by the mayor and members of the San Bernardino Common Council. Additional community volunteers who have taken on leadership of other committees are: Trudy Freidel (Festival of Faiths), Dr. William Coleman (Leadership Cabinet), Peggi Hazlett (Mayor’s Run), Dr. Charles “Skip” Herbert (Coloring Books for Schools) and The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire (Design).
For additional details, contact Erin Brinker at (951) 323-9337 or go to http://sanbernardino200.org
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