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Lake Tahoe, June 2005

Friends Reunion

Great Friends!
Fannette Island is the only island of any consequence in Lake Tahoe. While Emerald Bay was carved by glaciers, something about the granite of the island resisted those tremendous forces to rise from the bay's floor and 150 feet out of the water. There have been two strong personalities associated with Fannette Island. The first was Captain Dick "Them's my toes" Barter who was quite a colorful character. The second was Lora Knight a major philanthropist who gave extensively to youth groups in California and to various charities in the Truckee Meadows and Tahoe Basin. She was also a major supporter of Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing. She was responsible for both Vikingsholm and the teahouse on Fannette Island, where she would have summer guests for high tea (at 6,378 feet above sea level, it was really high tea). Visitors to the teahouse will find it in disrepair due to years of harsh winters and vandalism.
Emerald Bay provided the setting for one of the first summer homes at Lake Tahoe. In 1863 Ben Holladay, stagecoach magnet and early day transportation king pre-empted land in Emerald Bay and built a summer home. In 1884 a Dr. Kirby bought 500 acres in the Bay and built a resort. A portion of the Kirby land was sold to the William Henry Armstrong family in 1895. Mrs. Knight purchased the land from the Armstrongs in 1928. Mrs. Knight's land included the only island (Fanette Island) in Lake Tahoe and the only water fall (Eagle Falls) flowing directly into the Lake. Magnificent cedars and pines set off by shear granite cliffs make this one of the most scenic areas in the entire United States. Mrs. Knight wanted to build a summer home that would compliment the magnificent natural surroundings. Emerald Bay reminded her of many of the fjords she had seen on numerous travels to Scandinavia. She commissioned her nephew by marriage, Lennart Palme, a Swedish architect, to design the plans.

In the summer of 1928 Mrs. Knight and the Palmes traveled to Scandinavia to gather the ideas they wanted to incorporate in Vikingsholm. Vikingsholm was completed in the fall of 1929 and occupied by Mrs. Knight, her staff of 15 and many guests in June of 1930. Mrs. Knight enjoyed 15 summers at Vikingsholm. She always had a home full of guests to share this magnificent summer home with her. Mrs. Knight passed away at the age of 82 in 1945. After her death, the home was sold to Lawrence Holland, a rancher from Nevada. He subsequently sold it to Harvey West, a lumberman from Placerville, California. In the early 1950s, Mr. West, a noted philanthropist, negotiated with the State of California and said he would donate one-half of the appraised value of the land, as well as the Vikingsholm itself outright, if the State would pay him the other half. This arrangement was agreed upon, and in 1953 the house and property were acquired by the State. Vikingsholm is considered to be one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture existing in the United States. It is now a part of the Harvey West Unit of the Emerald Bay State Park. The house is open for tours in the summer months and the grounds and magnificent scenery may be enjoyed all year around by those wishing to visit this beautiful setting.

  Unusual Plant
Hike to Cascade Falls
Excursion Cruise on Lake Tahoe
  We had beanbags to sit on
Design Features
  Marriott Hotel where we stayed
The Marriott Hotel where we stayed Shops across the street from the hotel
Pyramid of the Gents & Kids  
  Kids had matching t-shirts printed on front & back, 
Sarah, Christopher, Ryan, Paige, Rebecca
Don, Amy & Christopher  
Stewart, Julie, Paige & Ryan Amy, Jim, Sarah & Rebecca
Pam & Keith Raini
Some old cars we found on the road on our way to the airport.
Lake Tahoe History

For untold centuries before explorers John Fremont and Kit Carson discovered Lake Tahoe in 1844, the Lake Tahoe Basin was a summer gathering place for three bands of peaceful Washoe Indians. Lake Tahoe held a spiritual meaning for the tribe and many sacred ceremonies were held along the southern shores.

The California Gold Rush lured emigrants and fortune seekers to the rugged Sierra. Prospective miners used passes to the north and south to circumnavigate the treacherous Tahoe Basin. The first West-to-East road across the mountains, the "Bonanza Road," was built to handle travelers eager to cash in on Virginia City's massive Comstock Lode which was discovered in 1859. Highway 50 now covers this route.

Way stations, stables and toll houses sprang up along the route. These stations were the basis for most development in the area, from Friday's Station at Stateline, which served as a Pony Express stop, to Yank's Resort in Meyer's, which was built in 1851.

The discovery of the Comstock Lode not only increased traffic, it inflated the use of the Tahoe Basin's natural resources to a dangerous level. Wood was needed for fuel and to support the labyrinth of mines being constructed beneath Virginia City. Between 1860 and 1890, Tahoe's forests were nearly stripped of trees. The decline of the Comstock Lode may have been the saving of the Tahoe forest.

Reports of Lake Tahoe's beauty did not go unnoticed by the wealthy families of San Francisco. By the turn of the century, the lake had become a haven for the well-to-do. Popular hotels of the era included the Tallac House, Tahoe Tavern and the Glenbrook Inn. This period marked the heyday of steamship transportation around the lake, with mail and supply delivery around the lake, and lavish transport for visitors.

During the '20s and '30s, the roads through the mountains were paved, bringing in greater numbers of people and sparking growth of smaller, middle-class lodges.

Development at Lake Tahoe began in earnest in the 1950's. Roads to the Basin began to be plowed year-round, enabling permanent residence. The 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley put Lake Tahoe firmly on the map as the skiing center of the western United States.

In 1968, growing environmental concerns caused California and Nevada to form the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to oversee environmentally responsible development in the Basin. Work began on a master plan designed to improve the local tourism industry while protecting the fragile environment on which it is based.

Today, Lake Tahoe continues to offer visitors a bit of may historic eras. While hotel/casinos and ski resorts draw millions of guests each year, the main attraction continues to be the quiet beauty of the Sierra and the timeless inspiration of the lake itself, little changed from the days of the Washoe Indians.