Arrowhead Avenue

This place name is known to even the most casual visitor to the San Bernardino Valley and this has been so since earliest times. The reason is, of course, the peculiar configuration on the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, taking the shape of a giant arrowhead pointing downward.

Plants of two distinct colors form the face and background of the arrowhead, primarily because a strata of granite lies about 18" below the surface, allowing only shallow-rooted plants subsistence on the face. Mountain sage and a vine much like a potato vine, both of a light grey-green color, cover this area. The soil surrounding the arrowhead is of a different formation and sustains a darker shrub, which covers the remainder of the mountainside.

In recent years, to deter erosion and damage from fire, cistus plants have been planted around the perimeter. These were selected after tests by the Arboretum showed the plant to be particularly fire-resistant. When a bale of hay was broken up around a cistus plant, and set afire, hundreds of seeds from the plant germinated after expose to the heat, and the original plant itself did not die. Cistus is a native of Jerusalem, and is 85% fire resistant. Four rows of this plant, four feet apart were planted in 1953 and additional plants have been planted each year since, totaling many thousands in all.1 The preservation and restoration of the arrowhead is the project of a permanent committee of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce.

Image of Smith Hygienic Sanitarium
Smith's Hygienic Sanitarium, 1870

Pictured above is the founder of the first Arrowhead Springs Health Resort and pa - Dr. David Noble Smith.2 The arrowhead's tip points to many springs of warm water of varying temperatures. The Native Americans, of course, first enjoyed them. Many successive generations have built baths, hotels, and resorts at the site.

  1. Verbal testimony of Max Green, chairman, Arrowhead Restoration Committee, San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce.
  2. According to Charles S. Elder, his nephew, Dr. Smith built there three different sanatoriums, between 1863 - 88, each destroyed by mountain fires.

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