Monday, April 7, 2014

Idyllwild, CA

There are three adjacent communities, of which Idyllwild is the largest.  Idyllwild is located in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, CA.  Idyllwild is a popular southern California mountain resort that is one mile in altitude and is flanked by two large rocks, Tahquitz Peak and Suicide Rock.  Tahquitz Peak and Suicide Rock are famous in Southern California rock climbing circles.  Idyllwild is mainly a center for hiking, mountain and rock climbing and horseback riding.  The city has a fine cultural scene, which includes a music and arts school that was formerly affiliated with the University of Southern California and an annual musical festival called Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines every August.

Idyllwild was once the summer home for many of the Cahuilla Indians, who migrated to the area to escape the heat of lower elevation deserts.  There grinding slabs can still be seen in Idyllwild.  A Cahuilla legend tells how tribesmen chanted over the body of their fallen chieftain Tahquitz who had been possessed by an evil spirit and killed his sweetheart.  Suddenly his body began to glow like fire, and he rose and settled on Idyllwild's Tahquitz Rock.  According to the legend, Tahquitz is trapped beneath the rock with a rattlesnake and a condor for company, and when the mountain shakes and trembles, it is not an earthquake, but Tahquitz up to his evil tricks on Lily Rock.

Idyllwild was originally as Strawberry Valley because of the wild strawberries that grow along Strawberry Creek which runs through the town.  Shepherds regular brought their flocks to the valley.  In the 1880's, the Domenigoni family of San Jacinto homesteaded land near what is now the Idyllwild Arts Academy.  In 1889, George and Sarah Hannahs built a summer camp next to the site of their sawmill in upper Dutch Flat and they named it Camp Idyllwilde.  By the 1890's a toll road had been built from Hemet, which opened Idyllwild to settlement, logging and tourism.  A post office was established in 1893 and at this time, the town was called Rayneta after the Hannah's son Raymond.

In 1901, the Idyllwild Sanatorium was built to treat tuberculosis patients.  The sanatorium was soon remodeled as a resort called "Idyllwild Among the Pines" and" Idyllwild".  In 1901, the town's official name was changed to Idyllwild.

When the automobile came into being, Idyllwild became a weekend tourist attraction for people in Southern California.  For many years, the town presented itself as an alpine village and and hotels and businesses had German or German sounding names.  During World War II, this practice ended.

Between 1930-1950, Idyllwild became a center for the production of pinecreaft furniture made in the Arts and Crafts style, under the direction of Charles Belden.  The furniture was produced by the Idyllwild Pinecraft Furniture Companyand later, C. Selden Belden Idyllwild Pinecraft.  The furniture is now collectible and can be found in many Idyllwild houses and cabins.

In the late 1960's and 70's, there was  an influx of hippies in Idyllwild, which changed the nature of the town and alarmed many longtime residents.  Timothy Leary lived on a ranch in nearby Garner Valley, with the ranch serving as the headquarters of The Brotherhood of Eternal Love.  The ranch encampment is currently operated by Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times as a year round retreat for children with cancer and their families.

Idyllwild hosted the Idyllwild Bluegrass Invitational from 1974 to 1979.  At that time, it was the only bluegrass music festival in Southern California and was inspired by the Julian Banjo-Fiddle Contest.    The Festival still goes on today on the 3rd weekend in September.  The Bear Flag Festival was hosted in Idyllwild during the 1950's, 60's and 70's, which was a festival to honorCalifornia's Bear Flag and to mark the passing of the grizzly bear from California.  The last grizzly bear, according to local legend was killed at Hurkey Creek in Garner Valley.

Idyllwild and the nearby areas have been used for filming since the silent film era.  A number of Westerns were filmed at Garner Ranch in Garner Valley.  The Garner Ranch was the Ponderosa in episodes of the TV show "Bonanza." In 1961 and 1962, the Elvis Presley musical "Kid Galahad" was filmed in the vicinity of Idyllwild.  The 1980's television series Air Wolf and various car commercials have been filmed in the area.  The biker funeral procession from the 1966 film "The Wild Angels" was filmed in Idyllwild.  Notable landmark includes Silver Pines Lodge,  which was named Hilbilly Lodge at the time of the filming.

I belong to AAA and I get Westways magazine.  There is an article in Westways magazine called Day-Tripping.  In September, 2007, the city was Idyllwild.  The places they recommended to go in Idyllwild was Village Market, The Spruce Moose, The Greek Place, Country Farms, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Lily Rock Gallery, Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum and Cafe Aroma.  The directions, Westways magazine gives to get there, is to take I-10 freeway to SR 243 South or take I-215 to SF 74 East connecting with SR 243 north.  Most of the places still exist.

These are the pictures I took: