Cultural Heritage · Historic Towns · intercity transit · Lakes · Maritime Heritage · museums · travel plan

Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California

Native People Gold and Silver Discoveries Ski Resorts Museums and Mansions

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine freshwater lake and second deepest in North America. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Nevada and California, it is home to ski resorts and other year-round tourism and recreation activities. Formed about 2 million years ago, it is known for the clarity of its water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides.

Lake Tahoe from Crystal bayNative People the area around Lake Tahoe was previously inhabited by the Washoe tribe whose territory, included the upper valleys of the Walker, Carson and Truckee Rivers. The word Tahoe derives from a Washo word meaning The Lake.

The Mining Era with the discovery of gold in 1848, thousands of gold seekers passed near the basin on their way to the gold fields. Europeans arrived in the Lake Tahoe basin with the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver deposit 15 miles – 24 km – in Virginia City, Nevada. From 1858 until about 1890, logging in the basin supplied large timbers to shore up the mines’ underground workings.

Development during the first half of the 20th century, development around the lake consisted of a few vacation homes, followed by the post-World War II building boom, construction of gambling casinos in the Nevada part of the basin, and completion of the interstate highway for the 1960 Winter Olympics.

 ehrman hellmanSquaw Valley is North America’s Most Renowned Ski Resort

Hellman-Erhman Mansion is a grand but informal summer home completed in 1903 and considered to be one of the finest in the high Sierra. The building site was originally a sand hill. Tons of topsoil were brought from the back country to provide the base for lawns and gardens. Building materials for the house were obtained locally; the granite from Meeks Bay and the lumber from Hobart Mills, north of Truckee. The spiral staircase rises to the second floor where a hall runs north and south joining the eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms. The rooms were furnished with brass beds and Navajo rugs.

Emerald BayEmerald Bay State Park is located in the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe and is a National Natural Landmark. A vividly colored oval embayment of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay was formed by moraines as parallel glaciers receded. The site is an outstanding example of glacial geology.

The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society NLTHS was founded in 1969 by a group of concerned citizens who were passionate about preserving Tahoe’s history, and telling its stories. The NLTHS preserves, presents and interprets Lake Tahoe history through its three museums located in Tahoe City:

North Lake Tahoe Clear WaterGatekeeper’s Museum is located on an ancient Washoe campsite. The museum contains an eclectic collection of Tahoe history, including photographic collections, oral histories and transcription, newspapers, court ledgers, maps and written materials, letters, clothing, artifacts and furniture.

Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum a collection of over 800 baskets, pottery, clothing, dolls and artifacts from over 85 tribes nationwide.

Watson Cabin a 1909 log cabin listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest Tahoe City house that still sits where it was originally built, in the middle of the town.


StarDustTahoe Maritime Museum preserves Lake Tahoe’s rich maritime history and stimulate interest and increase knowledge and maintain watercraft and marine artifacts significant in Lake Tahoe’s maritime history through the highest standards of historic preservation, innovative interpretation and public education.

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