Article Index
History of Big Bear
Discovery And Naming of Big Bear Valley
Gold Rush Days
Logging And The Sawmills
Mountain Cattle Ranchers
The Big Bear Valley Dams
Early Big Bear Valley Resorts
Fox Farming
Winter Sports
The San Bernardino Mountains
All Pages


In the long history of the development of Bear Valley since the gold rush days of 1860, no enterprise was more unique than that of Fox Farming.

The raising of foxes for their magnificent furs dates from the 1890’s, when Canadians Sir Charles Dalton and Robert Oulton were able to develop a consistent strain of valuable silver foxes from the common red fox.

Because demand was high, prices good and profits large, many in the northern area became fox ranchers, including the successful R. T. Moore of Maine.

He heard about the climate of Bear Valley and realized it was ideal for fox raising. The high altitude and dry air eliminated many internal and external pests, while the cool summer nights, seasonal changes and cold winters were ideal for the industry.

In the 1920’s, Moore purchased 84 acres east of the Pine Knot, which he named the Borestone Ranch, and quickly built extensive pens and kennels.

Today this site is bordered by Fox Farm Road, Teakwood Drive, Crater Lake Road, and the rocky hills on the north.

The pen-raised silver foxes were flighty, nervous, unpredictable and required diligent care and feeding. Superior breeding pairs would bring $2,000 to $3,000 and fine pelts would command as much as $1,100.

The Walter McAllister family arrived in Bear Valley from Seattle on November 11, 1928 to take over the management of the All Star Fox Farm Ranch. During the next decade, the business prospered, even though these were Depression years. With a strong market, the All Star doubled in size in the 1930’s when it took over the Wortley Ranch. During these peak years, there were 27 different fox farms between Sky Forest near Arrowhead and the Smart Ranch east of Cactus Flat, eight being large, full-time operations. In this period, the All Star was producing more than 1,000 pelts a year.

In 1936, the superb quality of Bear Valley furs was proven worthy when a large consignment to the International Fur Exchange in London brought the highest prices of any shipment ever made.

In the early years, the sale of breeding stock was the prime objective in Fox Farming, because it was much more profitable than selling pelts. The quality of these animals was diligently controlled by the official Fox Farmers Association, which established strict rules. Each animal was inspected for color and conformation. If accepted for registration, the fox was tattooed in an ear. Those that failed were then pelted.

In the 1930's, Fox Farming was Bear Valley's second most important industry after cattle ranching.

The demise of the fox fur industry was the result of several factors: the increased cost of food, a 20% luxury tax, and Russia and other lend-lease countries dumped shiploads of fur on the world market.