A Private Gambling Resort In Lake Arrowhead, California
Dedie and I were talking, wondering what my next blog should cover and it came to us we should write about historical moments and people of the area. Arrowhead's history always comes back to the rich and famous and a particular time period. One famous person, who had a good deal to do with the history of Lake Arrowhead, was a gangster. Guess who? If you guessed Bugsy Siegel, you're 100% right!
When Siegel left New York as a member of the New York Mafia he was directed by the mob to come to Los Angeles and set up a syndicated gambling operation with the Los Angeles mobster Jack Dragna. Arriving in Los Angeles in 1937, he met and appointed Mickey Cohen as his lieutenant and began conducting business. Using syndicated money he set up a national wire service to help the East Coast mob quicken their returns in the business. Siegel had always been on the lookout for new business ventures.
As early as 1925, Bugsy got the idea to build a private gambling resort in the San Bernardino Mountains in the Lake Arrowhead area. Siegel presented the idea to the Chicago bosses and they were surprise when he wanted $1.3 million to build the resort. Obtaining the money, Siegel completed the project naming the club Club Arrowhead of the Pines.
The club became very popular with the rich and famous of Hollywood and opened on July 4, 1929. The club included many state of the art conveniences, including electricity. In the clubhouse, gin was distilled, dice rolled and starlets were available to party with. The club was built in Arrowhead Villas, a short distance south of Lake Arrowhead. Artesian well water was available and used in the Villas, ideal for both drinking and making spirits.
There was a second piece of property associated with the Club known as the Market. The Market contained a soda fountain and butcher shop on the first floor and those starlets mentioned above were located on the second floor to provide entertainment for the gentlemen club members. On the lower level was the icehouse. The icehouse had a discreet entrance to an underground tunnel connecting the speakeasy and the girls living quarters.
In addition, there was a bathhouse with an Olympic-size swimming pool fed from a natural mineral spring. There was also a ski tow, tennis courts, horseback riding, barbershop and a gas station. Thirteen one-room cabins were built for the girls and there were 80 time-share cabins for the guests.
Due to the success of the Club Arrowhead of the Pines, the New York mob directed Siegel to go to the small desert town of Las Vegas and open a resort there. The facilities continued to operate in the Lake Arrowhead area through World War II. During that time Mickey Cohen tried to take over but was unsuccessful. The first floor Market continued to operate several more years after the mob lost control.
The Market is now known as Bracken Fern Manor and is a bed and breakfast. While Club Arrowhead of the Pines is now called the Tudor House and is a private residence.
Bob Carroll is a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty in Lake Arrowhead California, and has been working in the Lake Arrowhead area since 1998.
To contact Bob go to www.carrollonline.com.