When the Blue Cut Fire ravaged the Cajon Pass area during three days this past August, 100 homes and 200 structures were destroyed. Perhaps the saddest historic loss, however, was the Clyde House in the upper section of Lone Pine Canyon, some four miles east of Wrightwood. The old red ranch house, the battered gas station and various out- buildings would always greet travelers along the Lone Pine Canyon road, but few knew the history of the compound. Almon Clyde, one of the early Mormon settlers in the region, homesteaded the 160-acre ranch in 1863. Virgil and Wyatt Earp, of the celebrated Earp Brothers who tamed “Tombstone” Arizona in the early 1880s, eventually moved to nearby San Bernardino where the Clyde and Earp families became good friends. Virgil Earp, in particular, was a very close friend of the Clydes and he and his famous brother, Wyatt, would often visit the Ranch to hunt, throw horseshoes and relax. Over the ensuing years the original main cabin was enlarged and became known as the “Earp Cabin.” Around 1910, the Clyde Ranch began developing an apple orchard that would grow into a successful business in the 1920s. The Blue Cut Fire was not the first wildfire to visit the ranch in the 20th century, explains Gary Hopkins Sr., caretaker of the Clyde Ranch since 1991. The devastating Sheep Fire of 1909 licked at the peripheries of the compound before altering its direction at the last minute. “I’ve been taking care of this place so long, it was really hard to see the damage” said Hopkins; “I even raised my son here.” According to the caretaker, the apple orchard and ranch buildings were the first to go and the blacksmith shop and chicken coop were next. Somehow the main ranch house and the gas station were spared. Not only were most of the structures decimated but also their vintage contents including furniture, antique firearms, documents, and historical records going back to the 1860s. Caretaker Hopkins’ personal collection of tools was another great loss and the insurance barely covered the cleanup of the compound. “If it weren’t for all the wonderful people of Wrightwood who’ve been there for me,” says Hopkins, “I don’t know how I would have made it through.” Stuart Baker and John Lenau videotaped the Clyde ranch earlier this year and the tape is now archived at the museum as a valuable record of our local history.
Courtesy of the Wrightwood Historical Society’s Write Times Newsletter
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961