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Lake Tahoe History

The first people who lived around the Tahoe area were the Washoe and Paiute Indians. They were hunter gatherers who harvested pine nuts, hunted and fished the lakes, and although getting enough food was a constant challenge, they developed a relatively peaceful culture and triumphed in the skill of basket weaving. (Visitors to area history museum can see an awesome basket made by one of the last Washoe experts. It took an entire year to craft.)
Famous trapper Jedediah Smith met and befriended these Native Americans early on, so they were welcoming when John C Fremont and Kit Carson came through the area exploring for the U.S. Army. The two men were amazed by the crystal blue water and noted that the only river to feed out of the lake was the fish-rich Truckee, a name it was later given to honor a native American trail guide. They also observed that the flats north of the lake were relatively mild in climate, and that a nearby shortcut lead quickly through the mountains. That pass was later named the Donner pass in honor of a group of people who were trapped there in winter on their way west and were forced to turn to cannibalism. (Survivors were later forgiven and allowed back into society.)
Lots of people wanted to go to California and Nevada during the 1840s and 50s when the Comstock load - a gold vein - was discovered in nearby Virginia City. (See day trips, for information on this enchanting "ghost town"). Shortly later locals discovered that the bluish mud surrounding the gold was actually silver. At this news more miners started pouring in from all over the world, and those around Lake Tahoe started cutting down timber to supply to the many mines that were springing up. These loggers would transport the wood by water and then on to the mines using new railroads, the building of which spurred more development in the area.
About this time the Anglos started having trouble with the desperate Paiute who were getting pushed aside by all the development tragic results – the explosive violence. Few Native Americans were able to remain in the region. After the precious metals ran out in the 1860s and 70s the miners left, but robber barons and wealthy San Franciscans as well as other people who had been exposed to the beauty of Lake Tahoe came to live or develop real estate on the scenic lake. Luxury resorts thrived, and mansion sprung up.

At about the same time, Reno was gaining prominence as a divorce capital of the nation. The laws for residency in Nevada had been made very loose to accommodate the many miners who came and needed to settle quickly. You could still come to Nevada, get a residency in a few weeks and sue for divorce quickly. To help out all those wealthy widows dude ranches and lodgings became popular.

Also because of the wild west history of the area, gambling was legal in Nevada, with the occasional restrictions imposed, then relaxed. In the 1920s gaming in North Lake Tahoe at the Cal-Neva resort attracted the rich and famous from all over the world. More lodges were built to serve the demanding needs of the social elite. Bill Harrah's and Raymond Smith and son saw an opportunity to turn gambling into a serious business and actively bought and built appealing Casino resorts on the Nevada side of the lake.

Then in the 1960s the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley brought world attention to Lake Tahoe. They opened Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Reno, and people started pouring in. Visionary resort developers began creating their majestic masterpieces and the rest is .well, history.


Resort Reservations
Guest Services and Information
Tahoe City, CA  96145

City Concierge, Lake Tahoe is the source for resort reservations, guest services and information. We provide lodging reservations for hundreds of homes and condos from typical cabins in the forest to 5 star homes on the lake. 1 Lake, 2 Shores, 365 Days of Fun!

Homewood Mountain Resort
5141 Westlake Blvd.
Homewood, CA 96141

Incline Village
Diamond Peak Ski Resort
1210 Ski Way
Incline Village, NV 89451

Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau
969 Tahoe Blvd.
Incline Village, NV 89451

Incline Village Chamber of Commerce
969 Tahoe Blvd.
Incline Village, NV 89451

Kirkwood Ski Resort
1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive
Kirkwood, CA 95646

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort
629 Sugar Bowl Road
Norden, CA 95724

Olympic Valley
Squaw Valley Ski Area
1960 Squaw Valley Road
Olympic Valley, CA 96146

Mt. Rose Ski Resort
22222 Mt. Rose Hwy
Reno, NV 89511

South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
1156 Ski Run Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce
3066 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Heavenly Mountain Resort
3860 Saddle Road
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

South Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority
169 Highway 50
Stateline, NV 89449

Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce
169 Highway 50, 3rd Floor
Stateline, NV 89449

Tahoe City
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort
2600 Alpine Meadows Road
Tahoe City, CA 96145

Tahoe City Visitors Information Center
380 North Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA 96145

North Lake Tahoe Resort Association
PO Box 1757
Tahoe City, CA 96145

North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau
PO Box 1757
Tahoe City, CA 96145

Northstar At Tahoe
100 Northstar Drive
Truckee, CA 96161

Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce
10065 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161

Twin Bridges
Sierra At Tahoe - Ski Resort
1111 Sierra At Tahoe Road
Twin Bridges, CA 95735

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