NAME: Belleville
COUNTY: San Bernadino
GRID #(see map): 4
CLIMATE: Snow in the Winter. Warm in the Summer.
Late Spring through late Fall
COMMENTS: Belleville is located about 8 miles North of Big Bear Lake City in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. This area is now a National Forest. Parts from the movie Paint Your Wagons were film at this location. Several foundations still remain, a large Juniper tree that was the hanging tree is still there. Everytime that there was a hanging the hanging branch was cut off, so there are many branches missing from this tree. The saloon still remains as well as much mining equipment and some graves. Great article on Belleville.
REMAINS: Saloon, Mining Equipment, Hanging Tree, Mines, Foundations.

Gold was discovered in Holcomb Valley in 1860 by William F. Holcomb who was born in Indiana in 1831. As prospectors rush to this area in 1860 the town of Belleville was established. The town was named after the Blacksmith's baby daughter, Belle, who was the first child born there. The Blacksmith whos name was Van Duzen also built the first road into this area for $1500.00. The towns population grew to about 1500. Belleville lost an election in September of 1861 by two votes to the City of San Barnardino as to where the county seat of San Bernardino County would be located. It is estimated that miners were taking out as much as 50 onces of gold per week. Most of it came through placer workings. As the gold ran out the people left and by 1880 there were only a handful of residents left. After 1880's the valley returned to it's natural state, and Belleville became a Ghost Town. Submitted by Gary R. Salisbury.

UPDATE: I live up in Big Bear Lake, which is in the very near vicinity of Belleville. I would advise all who are considering visiting the site of Belleville to not get your hopes up. All you will be able to see are two graves (plus one I found in a field near the IS ranch building), the remains of the cabin which are minimal (a homeless person set a fire inside it quite a while back, and accidentally burned it down), and about 7 mine shafts, and a small piece of mining machinery here and there; nothing fancy or large. I don't know why a saloon is mentioned as being there. The only building still standing is a simple cabin that was brought over from the IS ranch. About the most interesting thing to find in it are all the less-than-generous people who have carved their names into the wood. Also, the hanging tree is not the original. The one in the photo may have been, but the original tree was struck by lightening at least 5 years back. The mountains have not been kind to the town. It had many rather large buildings at one time, and I believe our local paper said that a hotel existed into the 1930's. If you go to the local public library, and look for the "Bearly Remembered" column in the Grizzly Gazzete, you can learn more about the town. One more thing. If you still want to find the town, and ask a local, just say the remains out in Holcomb Valley. If you say Belleville, half of them probably won't know what you're talking about. However, if you want to see some beautiful scenery, then by all means come. It is a great area for hiking, and biking, but always be aware of Bears, and Cougars, and most of all, Rattlesnakes. The mountains are beautiful all year round, and you will see that there are many streams in the area that still hold a fair amount of gold. Be forewarned though, there are a lot of people who still live in that area that are rather touchy about people snooping around their claim. If you see a no trespassing sign, regard it as "This property guarded by Smith & Wesson". Grant Houston

I live in Big Bear Lake and noted an update on Belleville by someone who also lives here. He is not correct about the saloon. There is indeed the remains of saloon nearby Belleville. It's not in Belleville, but it's not far from it, either. The forest service has erected signs to every point of interest in the valley and the saloon is one of them. They also have maps available. You need to visit them to get your Forest Adventure pass anyway, so ask about the maps! If you are adventurous, and have a 4wheel drive vehicle with high clearance, (an AWD crossover won't cut it), you can find some great stuff that is not marked, but does appear on topo maps. For instance, there is a mine and foundations of old homes not far from Belleville. If you don't have a 4WD high clearance vehicle, you can always hike. If you do visit, make sure you get your Forest Adventure pass at the local ranger station. It's better to pay the $5.00 fee than get a fine and a ticket. It's also not advisable to visit during times of snow, storms, or when there is snow on the ground, and make sure you travel in packs of two or more vehicles, just to be safe. And above all, NO SMOKING! Don't burn the forest down because of your carelessness. You might think that cigarette is out, but it's not. Also, there are people who live here, so be courteous and try and keep the noise level down. Whatever you bring with you, take it home. Don't leave trash behind. There is no trash pick up. This isn't the city. Be aware that there are bears, cougars, coyotes, racoons and rattlesnakes in the area. Watch where you step and wear high top boots. The rangers will have more info on how to be safe in the valley. If you bring a dog, keep it on a leash or it may become a victim of one of the above. So let's review: Points of Interest marked by signs on the trails, including the saloon Get your forest adventure pass at the ranger station Get a map of the area at the ranger station Whatever you bring in, take home - don't leave your trash in the mountains Travel in at least pairs for safety Bring water and food Dog on leash NO SMOKING Thanks!

When a victim of a hanging was finally cut down, the branch from which the rope hung was chopped off. So you can tell how many men have been hung from this tree.
Courtesy Dolores Steele

Courtesy Dolores Steele

Ross was killed while operating a saw and was buried on the spot. Someone took the time to hand carve the old picket fence around the grave.
Courtesy Dolores Steele

Ruins of the Pigmy Cabin - the cabin was very small - stories were that it was made small because a bad storm was fast approaching or maybe builder was eager to finish and try his luck in the nearest stream.
Courtesy Dolores Steele

Mitzger Mine
Courtesy Dolores Steele