October 24th, 2007

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  • vp19

Lake Arrowhead, and Lombard

Our thoughts are with the many in Southern California whose lives have forever been changed by a series of wildfires. From Malibu in the north to San Diego in the south, nearly a million people have been evacuated, nearly 1,200 homes destroyed and more than 420,000 acres of land have been or are burning.

One of the hardest-hit sites has been Lake Arrowhead, where smoke can be seen in the photo above. The entire area has been evacuated.

In happier times, Lake Arrowhead is one of southern California's favorite getaways. Less than 100 miles from downtown Los Angeles, it's a serene world apart from the city's hustle and bustle. It's one of those "higher elevations" L.A. radio stations are referring to when giving weather reports, and snow is a common sight each winter.

Lake Arrowhead has been a popular tourism destination since the 1920s, when a Los Angeles syndicate constructed an English-style village. Here are some early '30s advertisements promoting the site:

Lake Arrowhead was used for movie exterior filming as far back as the teens, and continued that way into the thirties. In fact, part of Lombard's last Paramount feature, "True Confession," was shot at the lake; here are two screen captures from the movie, plus a publicity still:

Like many in the film community, Lombard occasionally relaxed at Lake Arrowhead. And it was there in September 1934, while vacationing with her mother, that she learned about the sudden accidental death of her beau at the time, singer-musician Russ Columbo.