The cabins of the Big Santa were built between 1907 and 1936. The newly formed Forest Service instituted a residential residence program for several reasons. First of all, cabin life was an accepted form of forest use in those times. Secondly, by assigning cabin sites they could control the cabin construction, which had gone unchecked for years. They decided where the cabins were built and how many. It was also a good form of revenue collection.
When the camps and cabins were built, there were virtually no roads in the mountains. All of the lumber and concrete and furniture and stoves etc were packed in on donkeys and mules. The Big Santa Anita is the only remnant of that era.
By the mid-1930’s there were dozens of mountain resorts and several thousand cabins throughout the San Gabriels. A tremendous flood in 1938 washed away the majority of structures in the range. Many in this canyon were lost. A fire in 1953 and another flood in 1969 took many more.