Lake Tahoe and Sierra Nevada History
                              History: history
Tahoe history at The History of transportation to California.
Wagon, Highway & Railroad Routes
Homewood History.
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society at the Gatekeepers Museum 530-583-1762
Washoe Tribe of California & Nevada (775) 888-0936
History Page at the Tahoe Center for a Sustainable Future (TCSF).
at the Truckee Tahoe Sight
at Tahoe Country Sight
High Sierra History Page
Placer County History
Old Time Tahoe at Tahoe Country
History Links at Yahoo
Tahoe Conservation 
Donner Pass Area
History of I-80 and N. Tahoe Area
Calif. History
The Donner Party
Tahoe Geology

Discovery of Lake Tahoe:
The first European American to discover Lake Tahoe was Captain John Charles Fremont, representing the United States Topographical Engineers, and Charles Preuss, his topographer, in 1844 from what is now Luther Pass on Hwy 89 south of Lake Tahoe. Fremont and his guide Kit Carson led expedition parties on the Oregon Trail and into the Sierra Nevada from 1842-1846

See: Crossing Kit Carson Pass - The First Winter Crossing of the Sierra Nevada by John Charles Fremont

Lake Tahoe was known as "Mountain Lake" until 1852 when it was referred to as Truckee Lake and Bigler Lake, for California's third governor, John Bigler. (Fremont and Carson originally named it Lake Bonpland, after a French botanist who had accompanied an earlier expedition. But Preuss, Fremont's map maker, referred to the lake on his maps of the area as "Mountain Lake".) In 1862 William Henry Knight, map maker for the United States Department of the Interior, asked Dr. Henry DeGroot, a correspondent for the Sacramento Union, for an indian name, whereupon Degroot consulted his notebook and found "tahoe," which, he said, meant "big water," "high water," or "water in a high place." A political debate over the names Bigler and Tahoe ensued with none other than Mark Twain getting involved. Twain, who was unimpressed with indian lore, referred to the name as an "unmusical cognomen" which, he declared, could never do justice to the lake's varied wonders and magnificent setting.
It took 75 years to officially change the name from Bigler to Tahoe.
North Lake Tahoe Becomes a Destination Area:
By the late 19th century, Lake Tahoe had become a popular vacation spot for wealthy San Francisco residents. Beginning in 1887, Robert M. Watson,, ran an inn called the Tahoe House with his wife and five children. In 1901, the original Tahoe Tavern was constructed by Walter Danforth Bliss. Over the next several decades, the Tavern was expanded to include such amenities as a casino with a bowling alley, ballroom (which was later converted to a movie theater), physician’s office, laundry, steam plant and water system. Both the Tahoe House and Tahoe Tavern were located in Tahoe City on the West Shore.
Source: Tahoe History - Go Tahoe North

In the early 20th century, Lake Tahoe became a destination for the wealthy to build large estates. It continues to be a destination for Billionaires today.
See Estates.

Tere are several accounts of the origin of the name. A Paiute indian chief helped early wagon trains, communicating by means of signs and diagrams drawn in the sand. Many versions abound over who first called him "Truckee".
Another account is the first settlers encountered his tribe with the friendly chief yelling "Tro-kay" at them, the Paiute word for "hello" or "all right."

See: Chief Truckee at

Dollar point
In the late 1800's James Lick, the San Francisco philanthropist, offered to give $1,000,000 for the construction of an observatory on the site. He liked the clear atmosphere and the relatively light snowfall during the winter. He was supported by Duane Bliss and Henry Yerington of Glenbrook, who owned a half section of land at Old Lousy and offered to donate 140 acres to Lick if his plan materialized.
It was to be the worlds largest and most perfect space telescope.
It was eventually built on Mount Hamilton overlooking Santa Clara Valley.

See Dollar Point History
and Observatory Point: A shooting star in Tahoe's history |

Tahoe: From Timber Barons to Ecologists, Rev. 1999, Douglas Strong.
Placer County, An Illustrated History, 2002, C. Myer, (Railroad timetable)

The Lake Of The Sky, Lake Tahoe, 1915 ,By George Wharton James at the Gutenberg eBook Project.
Tahoe Country Old Time Tahoe featuring history of the Lake Tahoe region
Images of Lake Tahoe at the Univ. of Nevada at Reno Special Collections
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Lake Tahoe Research, Magazine, Maps, Literature, and Resources

West Shore Info. | Ski Info | Directions | Homewood
last updated 27 Oct 2010