Home » Travel

Lake Tahoe History

Feb 7, 2008
Lake Tahoe, the lake itself and the small towns scattered around it, are located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of Nevada and California. The lake is a freshwater lake and is renowned for the clarity and chill of the water (even in summer). The area is also well known for its breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada's and the ski resorts, lake activities, hiking, camping, and all sorts of off trail recreational sports.

Of course, Lake Tahoe is historically best known for the discovery of silver in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1860's. During the Gold Rush happening in California, fortune seekers headed to Tahoe and Virginia City, Nevada, hoping to hit the next mother lode, like the Comstock Lode found in 1859. Miners, workers, and even families traveled over the treacherous Donner Pass on nothing but foot, wagons, and horses. The trek over the mountains became so popular that it was named the "Bonanza Road" (which later became the still used Highway 50).

Eventually, the silver and gold ran dry and the miners slowly left, or pursued different avenues for making money such as tolls and taxes to use the pass and lumber harvesting. However, that was short-lived and as early as the 1900's, Lake Tahoe became a vacation spot for the rich and famous of San Francisco, California. Hotels catering to the rich looking to pamper themselves in a beautiful setting became the new commerce.

However, the lake actually has history prior to the Gold Rush. The lake was discovered by Kit Carson and John Fremont in 1844, but the Washo Indians had been living around the lake and utilizing its fish and fresh water for centuries prior to that. The Washo used the area as a summer venue for their religious ceremonies and meeting with other factions of the tribes that wintered in different areas. It was the Washo that named the lake; their word was "Da-ow-a-ga" which translates to "edge of the lake." When Carson and Fremont came, they could not understand or pronounce the Indian word and mispronounced it as Tahoe. The early explorers actually named the Lake Bonpland (meaning Mountain Lake after a French botanist) and Bigler Lake after California's third governor. But none of these names stuck. The people in the area still called it Tahoe. In 1945, they gave in and officially renamed the Lake Tahoe.

It wasn't until 1944 when the first casino and saloon, Harvey's Wagon Wheel Saloon and Gambling Hall, that the area began to be known as a gambling destination for entertainment. Many more casinos and hotels began to spring up. Then, in the early 50's, the roads and passes began to be manually landscaped with roads being built and maintained year round, and people began to build houses and schools and lived in Tahoe full time, not just as a vacation home.

In 1960, the Olympics Winter Games were held in Lake Tahoe at one of the oldest ski resorts, Squaw Valley, and that began the reputation for Lake Tahoe being thought of as the ideal ski destination in the United States.

Luckily, for all that live and visit Lake Tahoe, the government of California and Nevada worked together to create the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1968. The Agency was convened to ensure that all developments and tourist areas were limited to allow the natural environment of the area to flourish and continue to be a wild and natural escape for as long as people wanted to visit.

The foresight of these early precautions has helped to maintain some very delightful and amazing historical sites for the modern tourist to see. A few of the most notable are the Vikingsholm Castle on Fannette Island, Ehrman Mansion, and Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber.

Located at the west end of Emerald Bay, Nevada, Fannette Island (the only island in Lake Tahoe) with the Vikingsholm Castle atop. The island and the castle are a great way to get to see first hand some of the diverse people and cultures that traveled through the basin. The castle was built in 1928 by Mrs. Lora J. Knight who instructed Scandinavian architect Lennart Palme to build a home without chopping down, moving, or injuring any of the site's natural trees.

Knight and Palme decided to build a Norse fortress from about 800 A.D. in full scale, method, and detail. They used only those tools and concepts of those used in ancient Scandinavia. The towers, turrets, towers, carvings, and hand-sanded wood were used to create the modern fortress. They installed a sod roof with grass that the ancient Scandinavians used to feed livestock during the winter. Mrs. Knight also wanted her furniture and décor to reflect the Scandinavian era, but many of her desired artifacts were so historically significant that their export was forbidden by the Norwegian and Swedish governments. But she was so driven to complete her vision, she had them copied exactly and recreated for her house.

The Ehrman Mansion is located in the Sugar pine Point State Park in California. The property was owned, until 1965, by Isaias W. Hellman, who built his summer home, Pine Lodge in 1903, then he began buying property in Lake Tahoe in 1913 and got up to about 2000 acres. The Mansion and the 1975 acres of the State Park give a good insight into the Tahoe of the early turn of the century. Of the decadence, yet need, to have the land remain wild.

Similarly, the Taylor Creek Chamber is a place where people can go and experience, nearly first hand, what the water and the creatures living in the lake are like. The glass bay windows walls, the waterfall, and the creek-bottom-eque floors complete with sound effects make this experience realistic, but without getting into the chilly Tahoe water.

The viewing windows of the actual lake then become a huge mural that wraps around the walls of the room, or chamber. There is also a huge cottonwood tree growing in the middle of the chamber. Visitors can view scenes of the Taylor Creek ecosystem throughout the four seasons, with a final scene looking down Taylor Creek where it empties into Lake Tahoe.
About the Author
Find out more about Lake Tahoe and Skiing.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 117
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources