J.B. Van Nuys – The Father of Lake Arrowhead

LAKE ARROWHEAD—Fishing, boating and kayaking activities are commonplace in the San Bernardino Mountains. One of the freshwater locales for angling, boating or personal watercraft activities is Lake Arrowhead. The 2-mile long lake sits about 5,000 feet above sea level and is roughly 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

Lake Arrowhead’s roots as a recreational destination began in the early 1900s. By the 1920s a local capitalist, James Benton Van Nuys, took ownership of the area around Lake Arrowhead and began to develop the region.

Mr. Van Nuys, if you were wondering, is indeed the person the city of Van Nuys is named after. Van Nuys – which is officially governed by the city of Los Angeles – is the most populous region within the San Fernando Valley.

The lake opened to anglers in 1914. Recreational fishers arrived at the angling concession at Orchard Bay, before heading over to Camp Fleming to drop a line. There were as many as 2,000 anglers at Camp Fleming during the inaugural fishing season at Lake Arrowhead, according to Arrowhead Lake Association.

Mr. Van Nuys spent $5 million to buy Lake Arrowhead property, including 47,000-acre feet of water, the Arrowhead Lake Association historical account of the area stated. The businessman/investor was part of a group call Arrowhead Lake Company.

“This new group had plans drawn that would mold the newly-christened Lake Arrowhead into a fashionable alpine resort,” a historical narrative of Lake Arrowhead, written by Arrowhead Lake Association, stated. “Millions would be spent on roads, lodges, dance pavilions, marinas, a grand hotel, golf course and Normal-style village.”

A story published in the San Bernardino Sun in 1979 indicated Mr. Van Nuys sold his Lake Arrowhead interest to the Los Angeles Turf Club in 1946.

Ownership of Lake Arrowhead continued to change hands, but Mr. Van Nuys appeared to be instrumental in making the San Bernardino Mountains waterway a destination for Southern California’s anglers, boaters and vacationers.

Share This:

2 thoughts on “J.B. Van Nuys – The Father of Lake Arrowhead

  • I think Van Nuys was named after his father.

    • Sean Foran

      Yes. It was named after I. N. Van Nuys.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *