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Cities and Towns - Owens Valley -

Big Pine, California

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Big Pine 1901


Big Pine, California, is a small town located in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. With a population of approximately 1,800, it is nestled in the scenic Owens Valley and is rich in history.

The area that is now Big Pine was originally inhabited by the indigenous Paiute people. They thrived in the region for centuries, sustaining themselves through hunting, fishing, and gathering. The Paiute people had a deep connection to the land and the natural resources it provided.

In the mid-19th century, settlers arrived in the Owens Valley. Gold discoveries in nearby areas attracted prospectors searching for fortunes. The influx of settlers led to conflicts with the Paiute people, disrupting their traditional way of life.

As the gold rush waned, agriculture became the mainstay of the region’s economy. The fertile soil of the Owens Valley made it ideal for farming, and Big Pine became a hub for agricultural activity. Farmers cultivated crops such as alfalfa, wheat, and barley, and the area became known for its abundant harvests.

In the early 20th century, the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct forever changed the landscape of Big Pine and the Owens Valley. The aqueduct was built to transport water from the Owens River to Los Angeles, providing much-needed water for the growing city. However, this water diversion significantly impacted the local economy and the way of life for the residents of Big Pine.

The aqueduct construction led to protests and legal battles known as the Owens Valley Water Wars. The residents of Big Pine and other towns in the Owens Valley fought to protect water rights and preserve natural resources. Despite their efforts, water diversion continued, and the agricultural industry in Big Pine faced significant challenges.

Today, Big Pine is a charming town that embraces its history while looking toward the future. Visitors can explore the remnants of the past, such as the Big Pine Museum, which showcases artifacts and photographs that tell the story of the town’s heritage. The surrounding natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.

In conclusion, the history of Big Pine, California, is intertwined with the growth of the Owens Valley and the struggles faced by its residents. From its indigenous roots to the impact of the gold rush and the Owens Valley Water Wars, the town has experienced significant changes throughout the years. Despite these challenges, Big Pine remains a resilient community that is proud of its history and committed to preserving its natural resources for future generations.


Eastern Sierra Nevada

Paiute Indians

More About Big Pine


U.S. 395

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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