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Bear Valley

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Reba Blood, daughter of Harvey Blood and Elizabeth Gardner, for whom Mt. Reba and the ski area are named. (Courtesy Calaveras County Archives)

Bear Valley was first named Grizzly Bear Valley for the abundance of grizzlies in the vicinity.  In the early 1860s Harvey S. Blood of Angels Camp patented the land as a summer stock range.  A prominent citizen of Calaveras and Alpine counties, he served as an Assemblyman to the State Legislature in the 1890s, and was a long-time owner of the historic Murphys Hotel.  In 1862, after Blood and Jonathan C. Curtis took over the Big Tree-Carson Valley Turnpike, they completed the section from Grizzly Bear Valley to Hermit Valley, maintaining the road and establishing tollgates at Cottage Springs, Hermit Valley, Ebbetts Pass, and Silver Mountain City.  A tollgate was also established at Bear Valley, and Blood’s Station became a well-known way station and landmark.  Mt. Reba and the Mt. Reba Ski Area (now Bear Valley Mountain Resort) were named for Reba, the daughter of Harvey Blood and Elizabeth Gardner.  The toll road became a public thoroughfare in 1910 and was incorporated into the State Highway System.

In 1952, the Orvis family purchased Blood’s Meadow, bringing their cattle up from the San Joaquin Valley to graze in the summer. Their son Bruce Orvis later acquired 400 additional acres of land to the north. He was instrumental in the initial development of the downhill ski area and Bear Valley Village, as well as a new highway from Camp Connell to Bear Valley.  The downhill ski area opened in the winter of 1967/68.


By Judith Marvin, 2011, from Guidebook for Ebbetts Pass