In 1916, six businessmen from Los Angeles purchased some land in Mammoth Lakes for $20 an acre and Valentine Camp was founded. Cabins were either built or moved on site and it served as a fishing and hunting location for the men, their friends and business associates. Travel to the camp was a multi-day endeavor. A train delivered visitors to Lone Pine where drivers awaited for the journey up the Sherwin Grade toll road. It was a bumpy and dusty ride taking the better part of a day. Once here, accommodations were rustic. The wives, whether invited or not, preferred to stay in comfort in LA.
Over time the property ownership changed hands. A few of the founders lost interest or passed away. Their shares were either sold or passed down to the next generation. Eventually Ed Valentine took control. The elevation took a toll on Ed's health and he decided he could not come to Mammoth after 1965. Not wanting the camp to be developed similar to the surrounding town, the family looked for other options. The Valentine Foundation discussed the property with The Santa Ana Botanical Garden, the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society before settling on the University of California’s Natural Reserve System. The rest is history!