Bob Nolan's Cabin
Big Bear Lake, California
During the 1939 filming of "Outpost of the Mounties" on Big Bear Lake, Bob searched for and found a cabin there for himself, a retreat from the pressures of his working life. He spent as much time as he could up there in the mountains in comparative isolation, living as close to nature as he could. In that peaceful environment he "recharged his batteries" and composed a number of his songs.
The cabin was roughly 12 x 18 feet with no amenities, although Bob eventually had electricity brought in. It appealed to him that the cabin had been built by a lad of 17 in 1925 - his own age. It was small but solid with everything he needed. It was also hard to get to and he liked that. (Listen to Bob describe his cabin.)
He and his wife spent four months of the year in his cabin during the first few years after he retired. But, as P-Nuts grew older, she found the effort too great and Bob went alone. He didn't mind that. He enjoyed being alone. In fact, he would never give directions to his cabin because he did not want visitors, even if they considered themselves close friends as did Stuart Hamblen. The few visitors he did allow were treated well.
After the noisy Big City noise of his Studio City home, the birdsong of the forest was balm to his soul.
Bob Nolan's original cabin at Big Bear Lake, California
Judy Finch photos, 1979
Map courtesy of Dick Goodman
"Bob Nolan's original cabin was located on the north side of Big Bear Lake just east of the dam. Back in the '70's, the spot was located just a hundred feet or so from the main road up on the side of the hill and was fairly well hidden amongst the pines. As I recall, there was just a little parking area off the main paved road. Last time I visited the area a few years ago, there was a dirt road with a sign saying "Bob Nolan Trail."
"Gray's Landing is also marked. That's where we parked our motorhome at the water's edge with a beautiful view of the lake. Bob made it a habit of coming down to Gray's landing just before sundown in the afternoon to fish off the dock until he'd caught his "evening meal". This was a daily ritual of his." (Dick Goodman)
One of the figures on the dock is Bob Nolan
"This is also the location where he and the tour boat captain pulled off the stunt of Bob and his dog, Tumbleweed, taking their daily swim across the lake years ago. Even though it is a narrow part of the lake, the distance is much further then you might think from looking at the map. Big Bear Lake is a huge lake." (Dick Goodman)
Dick Goodman was one of the few who visited with him there and they became friends over the years. (For more insight into the legendary Bob Nolan, read Dick's Recollections of Bob Nolan.)
Bob Nolan and Dixie Goodman, 1976
Bob, with his inimical sense of humour, let Dick in on some amusing incidents.
“Dick, you know, I’ve always been a very good swimmer but let me tell you about
a little prank we use to pull on the general public
when I first moved up here after I left the Pioneers. At that time there was a
tour boat that took off from the east end of the lake and it would come all the
way up the shoreline to the dam and then circle back down the other side of the
lake. The captain would give a little narration along the way. Well, I became
friends with him and we cooked up this little stunt.