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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


F. C. SKINNER. The right kind of a man can carve any manner of fortune for himself out of circumstances which to others would oflfer no opportunity whatever. The love of adventure must be in his soul, the willingness to take a chance at big odds, and the determination to make good no matter at what cost to himself. These are some of the characteristics which have enabled F. C. Skinner, manager of Pine Knot Lodge, to make an overwhelming success of his life, and, while acquiring a fair measure of prosperity, to assist in building up Big Bear Valley, the play-ground of Southern California, an ideal location, 6,800 feet above the sea level, surrounded by three commanding peaks, San Gorgonio, or Greyback, 11,485 feet in height, and San Bernardino and Sugar Loaf Peak, both over 10,000 feet in height. Prior to coming to the Valley, however, Mr. Skinner had accomplished much, passed through many experiences, and made numerous friends, but he regards what he has accomplished since his arrival at Pine Knot Lodge as the most noteworthy of his achievements.

F. C. Skinner was born at Dixon, Nebraska, August 1, 1872, a son of H. D. and Mahala Skinner. H. D. Skinner was born in Scotland, while his wife was a native of England. Both came to the United States with their parents^ he when four years old and she at the age of nine years. They were married in Michigan, and in 1869 migrated to Nebraska, making the long trip overland with oxen. When they located at Dixon the entire region was a wilderness, and for some years their home was in a sod house. They experienced many hardships, but lived to see their section of the state vastly improved. F. C. Skinner had an elder sister, Minnie B., who was born and died in Nebraska, these two being the only children of their parents.

The boyhood of F. C. Skinner was spent much as that of any lad on a Nebraska claim in the 70s and '80s, and he acquired what educational training he received in the neighborhood schools. In 1893 he made a trip to California, but left it for Denver, Colorado, that same year, and lived in that city until 1899, when he went to Spokane, Washington. In the meanwhile, however, he had enlisted for service in the Spanish-American war, and served as quartermaster sergeant of Company F, First Idaho Volunteer Infantry, and after the close of the war was sent to the Philippines, where he remained for a year, in all being in the service for eighteen months. He was mustered out at Fort McAlister, San Francisco. With the discovery of gold in Alaska, he decided to seek his fortune, and in 1900 went to Nome Beach, Alaska, and for the subsequent two years had the regular gold man's luck, winning and losing. This did not discourage him from being one of the Goldfield rush in 1904. After reaching Guldrield he decided that there was more money for him in the hotel business than in prospecting, and he conducted a hotel there, and later one at Rhyolite.

 Returning to Denver, he matched Jack Squires against Jim Jeffries, but this match was broken. Mr. Skinner then became manager of the Denver Country Club, which position he held until November 2, 1912, when he came to Los Angeles, California, and conducted a cafe at Ocean Park until February 15, 1915, when he signed the contract to take charge, as manager, of Pine Knot Lodge, Big Bear Valley, and entered upon what has been for him the most constructive period of his life.

 In the spring of 1915 he came into the Valley, and at that time there were not accommodations for over 250 or 300 people in the entire Valley, in camps and private homes altogether. In 1921 such progress has been made that there are over 700 private homes and thirty-two camps, each one of the latter having accommodations for from 40 to 250 people. Pine Knot Lodge is a world-famed resort, and although situated in what was once an almost inaccessible valley, is now reached by the Mill Creek and Clark's Grade road and the Crest Route combined, which make what is known as the "Rim-of-the-World Highway," recognized to be one of the genuine wonders of the country, if not of the world. The Lodge is most modern in every way, and the management has an individual lighting and ice plant, and operates a store in connection with a modern hotel and bungalows.

 Mr. Skinner has lived a busy life, and since coming to the valley has exerted himself to the utmost. Coming to Pine Knot Lodge practically a poor man, he soon saw that here was his opportunity, and set to work to develop it. Today he is known all over the civilized world for his expertness as a host and his knowledge of the hotel business, which enables him to attract to his resort the most seasoned travelers. Some idea of the affectionate esteem in which he is held may be gathered from the fact that, although in the very prime of vigorous manhood, he is called by his many guests "Dad" Skinner. He has acquired large interests in numerous holdings in Big Bear Valley, among others being the valuable North estate. In July, 1921 he organized the corporation known as the Big Bear Amusement Association, with a capital of $150,000, the officials of which are: Alfred L. Brush, president; F. C. Skinner, vice president; G. M. Bartlett, secretary; J. H. Lowe, treasurer, and these gentlemen, with James Ervin, R. R. Woodward and G. R. Siler, form the Board of Directors. The association has taken over all of the dance halls, pleasure boats, picture theatres, golf club grounds, and all indoor and outdoor sports in the Valley.

 Mr. Skinner belongs to the Chamber of Commerce in Big Bear Valley, one of the most active organizations in San Bernardino County. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, both of Redlands, the Jonathan Club of Los Angeles, the Tuna Club of Catalina Island, the largest fishing club in the world, and has always taken an active part in clean athletic sports and recreations.

 On July 29, 1896, Mr. Skinner married Evelyn Andis, who was born in Nebraska in 1881. They have one daughter, Helen, who was born at Denver, March 4, 1899. She is a graduate of the Denver High School, and for a time was a student of Saint Mary's School of Denver. She is now the wife of R. L. Shouse, a successful automobile dealer of Los Angeles.

 Mr. Skinner is a man of delightful personality, and his many experiences have given him a vivid hold upon life, and an appreciation of the best in it. He appears to have a natural appreciation of just what a hotelman should be and to carry out his ideas completely and capably. Yet, while he is sincere and genuine in his warm friendships, he is none the less an astonishingly good business man, whose quick-acting mind can reach out and grasp the possibilities of a project, as is evidenced in his recent amalgamation of the various pleasure-giving activities of Big Bear Valley, which promises to be one of the most important ventures of the entire valley. So sanguine is he of the further opportunities of this wonderful region that he looks to see many other projects developed along numerous lines, and it is safe to say that if he has anything to do with such development the ventures will be successful.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011