Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe

Megan Munroe from Turner Publishing Company recently contacted me and wondered if I would like to review a book entitled Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe. I’m a big fan of local history, so I eagerly awaited the arrival of this book.

Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe, a book put together by Ellen Drewes, “showcases nearly 200 images and two centuries of the lake and its surroundings, along with the people, places, and events that have shaped its unique history.

Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe
Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe

Whether you’re up exploring the trails at Lake Tahoe or just driving around the lake, it’s hard not to catch glimpses of Lake Tahoe’s past. In fact, many of the trails we enjoy at Lake Tahoe are there from the previous industries of logging and mining in the area, including the famous Marlette Lake Flume Trail. Other points of interest are not so obvious, an old casino or even just a clearing in the woods. Each site is rich with history with an interesting story to be told.

Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe
A page from the book, Below Mount Tallac – Early 1900’s

Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe takes you on a journey into the lake’s past, covering the pioneer days, its logging role in the mining years of the Comstock, and finally its rise into a resort and adventure destination.

The photographs are in four chapters

  • Early Days and Pioneer Ways (1860-1900)
  • From Silver Lodes to Golden Lodges (1901-1920)
  • A National Playground for All (1921-1940)
  • Claim to Fame (1941-1980)

The most recent photos in the book have been changed to black and white. This gives the book smooth continuity with no abrupt changes between the chapters. Each picture has a descriptive caption, but most of the text is at the beginning of the chapters. This makes Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe a good coffee table book, or one that you’ll want to go back to often as you explore Lake Tahoe. I have a small collection of local historical books, and this book will make a nice addition.

On One Inbred 29er
Below Mount Tallac, Modern Day

The roads around Lake Tahoe have always been there in my lifetime, so it was interesting to see the pictures of the old steamships taking people around the lake. In the early days, steamers were the only way to get around the lake easily. Trains, wagons, and horses were how you got to the lake.

Much later came the cars and highways, and when decent snow removal equipment came along, the lake became a national winter destination as well. In fact, the 1960 Olympic Winter Games were held at Squaw Valley on Lake Tahoe’s north side, and Walt Disney himself even opened the Sugar Bowl ski resort.

One particular picture that caught my eye was of the White Hill ski area at Spooner Summit. The ski area is long gone, but the clearing is still there. I think I even remember seeing some of the lift equipment up there when I was a kid.

Spencer's Cabin
Spencer’s Cabin near Spooner Summit – Modern Day

Modern day Lake Tahoe is famous for its casinos, and Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe has plenty of history in this area. Frank Sinatra owned the famous Cal Neva Lodge, and the place attracted the rich and famous including the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, and the Kennedy family. Many movies and TV shows have been filmed at Lake Tahoe, including the Godfather Part 2 and the TV series Bonanza. Hundreds of famous entertainers have performed at Lake Tahoe as well, such as Count Basie and Glen Miller.

A good place to check out historical sites on bicycle is on Tahoe’s southwest shore. The Tallac House and Baldwin Beach are just a short ride on bike paths north of Camp Richardson. The walk to Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay is another great family hike.

Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe
From the book, Cave Rock / Rita Hayworth

Like I mentioned earlier, Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe will make a nice addition to my collection of local history. I’ve learned a lot by reading it, and it has helped fill in the gaps that the other books have left out. If you are interested in Lake Tahoe and its history, I recommend this book. It would also make a nice gift for someone.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Lake Tahoe as seen from the Flume Trail

Check your local book store for Historic Photos of Lake Tahoe, get it directly from Turner Publishing, or find it online at other resources like Amazon.com

If you’re not familiar with Lake Tahoe, but are interested in historic photos of your area, there’s a good chance Turner Publishing has a book for you. Check out the whole collection of Historic Photos HERE.

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