Fly-In Acres History
Information below was gathered from Sisco Antilla, Francis Bailey,
Daisy Walsh and Renee Walton who gave generously of their knowledge.
It was compiled and written by Bruce and Jeanne Swinehart.
Fly-In Acres was owned originally by the Moran Cattle Company and was bought later by the Bonfilio Family who owned a ranch in Valley Springs. They used the land to graze cattle in the summer and as a summer vacation home. Mr. Brown bought the land from Mr. Bonfilio.
After World War II Travis Bailey opened a flying school with his brother and another partner at the Stockton Air Field. Mr. Brown was one of his students. Mr. Brown said he owned a piece of land in Calaveras County that would be great for people to fly in and vacation. There was a large house with a swimming pool that could be turned into a lodge. The house was located behind the apple orchard off Moran Road. It was the 1937 Better Homes and Garden “House of the Year.”
Travis Bailey and his Father-in-law, Mr. Frank Mayo who arranged for the loan, acquired the land in 1947. There were 1680 acres along Moran Road and adjoining Calaveras North Grove of Big Trees. The original lake was man made and has been a part of a lumbering operation. The meadow was big and beautiful with flowers and Moran Creek running through it.
Fly-In Lodges, Inc. was formed. Frank Mayo was president, Travis Bailey was vice president and Frances Bailey was secretary. The subdivisions were Lakeside Terrace, Subdivision I and Subdivision 2. Lots ranged from 1/3 acre to one acre. Three years of very careful planning took place. The first subdivision to be developed was Lakeside Terrace. The first house was built out of logs on Meadow Drive by Frank May. The Baileys moved into the former Bonfilio house.
The half-mile grass landing strip was the first project to be built and was located where the golf course is now. Rainy Drive, of course, was not there. This made the area accessible to private airplane owners. After the landing strip was completed, a dam was put in that made the lake much larger (10 acres). It was big enough for sailboats. They would have races there. The lake was also stocked with trout several times each season.
To use the landing strip you had to land and takeoff in the same direction regardless of the wind. You took off and landed from the lake part of the meadow toward what is now Blue Lake Springs. It was only a landing strip with a windsock. Cattle grazed in the meadow, and when a plane came in Frances Bailey would take the jeep and her sheep dog and chase the cattle off the strip.
Ed and Daisy Walsh knew Travis Bailey and flew into Fly-In Acres in October of 1949. Ed was killed later that year in an auto accident. Daisy stopped in to see Travis and bought a lot. She built her house there for less than $5,000. Lots at that time ranged in price from $500 to $1,300. One could be purchased for $10 down and $10 per month. Daisy Walsh and Marjorie Falk flew in often. Marjorie Falk used to bring in materials in her plane for her house on Meadow Drive. Doc Adams, Martin Huff, and Bill and Sisco Anttila were also among the first to build.
Travis Bailey closed the air strip after a crash took place when an instructor and student tried to abort a landing. They both survived but one was left a cripple. He put a big X on it, and it was not used any more.
To provide more capital to develop the property the Bailey Family sold the “large house”. It was carved out of the subdivision. They moved into a smaller house that had been the hired workers’ house. During those first years they had no neighbors. They had no electricity. The children had to be taken up to the highway for the school bus to pick them up. The elementary children went to the Avery School at White Pines and graduation ceremonies were held at Big Trees Park. The school was later named for Hazel Fisher, its first teacher. The high school students had to go to San Andreas which amounted to many hours of bus time each day.
In those days the town of Arnold consisted of a Saloon (White Pines Lodge), Ebbetts Pass Inn, a little post office, a butcher shop, small grocery, Ebbetts Pass Gas Co., Ebbetts Pass Lumber Yard, and the Texaco and Shell gas station (no Mini-marts). White Pines was not a town, just a community with a school, small post office and a tiny grocery store.
Fly-In Lodges installed the water system and the streets. The first streets were Meadow, Middle and Bonfilio. Later streets such as Lightning and Mustang were named after World War II planes. Water was piped from storage tanks to serve the properties that were developed. The water system was managed by a Mutual Water Company owned by Fly-In Acres property owners. This provided water at cost to users and gave each user a voice in the operation of said company.
As time went on Calaveras Co. Regulations became more and more demanding such as the width of streets, etc. Travis Bailey became very frustrated with all the new county regulations. After 20 years, Fly-In Acres was sold to the Ken DeMuse Corporation as Blue Lake Springs, but with the stipulation that Fly-In Acres would remain its own entity. The lake would only hold so many people therefore Fly-In had first priority. There was later litigation over the lake. All of the unsold lots were now owned by Blue Lake Springs, but were still in the Fly-In Acres development.
When Ken DeMuse bought Blue Lake Springs Travis Bailey tried to give him some advice. He told Mr. DeMuse not to change the course of the creek, and to not put a restroom where it was staked out because of the many springs there. Mr. DeMuse ignored his advice and the first big storm washed huge amounts of silt from the golf course into the lake and severely damaged his golf course. The lake was later dredged out but not nearly enough. The restroom was never usable. The restroom built by Fly-In Acres is the only one in use.
After 20 years the Bailey family left Fly-In Acres. Our very functional Homeowners Association and the Mutual Water Company were made up of lot owners who elected their Board of Directors and took care of all business. Early secretaries were Mr. Daryl Conroy and Mr. H. E. Kays. Sisco Anttila became secretary of the Homeowners Association in 1962 and remained in that position for 25 years. Renee Walton became secretary in 1987.
Homeowners Assn. Dues in 1954 were $2.00 plus $5.00 for fishing. In 1957 they were raised to $10.00. In 1965 they were $25.00. In 1980 they were $40. In 1988 when they became $65.00 they were not increased for another 12 years. Water Co. Dues were $50, then $75, the $95. In 1982 dues were raised to $115.00 and in 1986 to $150.00.