lone log cabin sits in the meadow on your left (this cabin
was moved to this site to represent the kind of structure
once common in
The largest gathering of prospectors settled east
of the original discovery, in a rich, flat meadow.
Inevitably a town sprung up, and Holcomb’s
memoirs tell of “Saloons, gambling dens, and bagnios of
the lowest kind.” On
the outskirts of the haphazard town, earthen dugouts and
hastily built shacks were thrown together by the miners.
There was even a brewery and the infamous
“Octagon House,” an 8-sided saloon and dance hall,
with rooms where glitter girls entertained.
For the town’s first July 4th
Celebration, the blacksmith’s wife, Mrs. Jed Van Dusen,
stitched together a flag made from the shiny shirts of the
dance hall girls, and red and blue from miners’ shirts.
Out of gratitude for her patriotic endeavor, the
settlement was named
in honor of her pretty little daughter, Belle.
In 1861, at the peak of the gold rush, 1,500 people
lived in Holcomb Valley, and Belleville missed taking the
county seat from San Bernardino by a mere two votes.
The population was typical of a mining town, with
good men and industrious workers, balanced by degenerates
and professional lawbreakers.