Lake Tahoe: A Brief History

Before you enjoy all the recreational activities and picturesque scenes Lake Tahoe has to offer, here is a quick look at its history. Lake Tahoe was inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years. This is where they gather medicinal plants, hunt food, fish at the clear water, and make tools. The artifacts of the Washoe Tribe found in the area over a decade ago can confirm all these theories. They were basically isolated until the exploration party of General John C. Fremont partly discovered the lake in 1844.

However, even after its discovery, the area was kept secluded until the Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859 in Virginia City, Nevada. The Comstock Lode emerged as the richest known silver deposit in the United States. It converted Virginia City into a metropolis. And this also laid the groundwork for Tahoe to become the center of wealth and culture.

However, such lively development also resulted in Tahoe’s destruction. The Comstock era brought massive deforestation to the Tahoe Basin. In fact, more than 80 percent of the Basin’s forests were logged to sustain the underground tunnels and excavation. It is sad to say, but evidence of this extensive logging can still be seen until today.

In 1868, the western part of the transcontinental railroad was completed. This extended the Central Pacific Railroad via Donner Pass at Donner Lake. In 1905, the first automobile also arrived in Tahoe. And in 1913, the Lincoln Highway, which was one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles, crossed the Sierra. All these new routes paved a way to increase the flow of goods and other products. Also, it also made the Tahoe Basin a scene to behold for travelers. Eventually, words of its captivating beauty created a buzz, making it one of the sought-after vacation destinations.

Since the public has grown appreciation to Lake Tahoe, several conservationists and congressional sessions exerted efforts to make the Tahoe Basin a national park in 1912, 1913, and 1918. However, all the attempts made failed. But the battle did not end there. During the 1940s and 1950s, a group of environmentally concerned residents and visitors organized the League to Save Lake Tahoe.  

It was only in the 1960s when Tahoe was finally on the map. It has beckoned not only the public but also famous personalities such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Cher. Furthermore, it gained international recognition after the 1960 Winter Olympics was held at Squaw Valley. This was the first Olympic Games to be televised by the way, and North Lake Tahoe’s tourism industry skyrocketed. Several hotels, restaurants, and ski lifts were built to accommodate all the athletes and fans.

Today, Tahoe attracts people from around the globe to enjoy its breathtaking views, cool blue water, and fresh, clean air. It also boasts of its unique art, music, and varied sport and entertainment activities. An estimated of 3 million visitors come to Lake Tahoe each year. And a huge chunk of its income comes from tourism. The place has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor recreational activities to offer. So make sure you enjoy as much as you can when you are in here.  



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