Doble is a near-forgotten ghost town near Big Bear, abandoned since gold mining dried up in the first half of the 20th century. Gold was discovered in Bear Valley shortly after the 1849 California Gold Rush, but panning from streams turned up little, and making a big profit proved difficult in this area. After many years of searching, however, two determined prospectors finally found a healthy vein of ore in an unassuming ridge east of town. They filed claims in 1873 and began mining. Finding it difficult to extract, they sold their claims for a healthy profit to mining tycoon Elias "Lucky" Baldwin.
In 1875, Baldwin expanded the operation at the freshly named Baldwin Mine by building a stamp mill to better process ore. The low-quality ore still failed to be lucrative, however, and the mine shut down. It was abandoned for 17 years, until Baldwin's son-in-law, Bud Doble, invested more money and took over operations. The second boom was short-lived as well, and the mine again shut down in 1895.
A third effort was brought by an enterprising man named Captain J.R. LaMar in 1899. The old stamp mill had since burned down, so LaMar built a new one using cutting-edge technology of the day. He ran operations until 1903, but he also found the mine hardly profitable in the end and backed out. A series of hopefuls would try to make it rich from this mine over the years, but no one ever enjoyed great success. Eventually, the place was abandoned like so many other mining towns in California.
The ruins are a short drive from Big Bear via Holcomb Valley Road. This road is rough in places. High-clearance four-wheel drive is recommended but not required. You can park in the old town site of Doble, near the dry bed of Baldwin Lake. Take time to wander among the dilapidated wooden structures and ponder what it must have looked like over a century ago, when a hundred workers or more were splitting rocks, filling hoppers, and sifting ore. This is a scene of the distant past, and it is hard to even imagine, but luckily a few relics still stand to remind us of this part of California's history.