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Stories of Lake Tahoe - A Chronicle

Down Cascade Way

June 7, 2017 | Leave a comment

Tahoe Tattler, June 21, 1940


I was going through old photos today and ran across some I had taken at Cascade Stables in August 1986. I was there to return some photos that H.R. “Shrimp” Ebright and his wife Katherine had loaned me to copy. I had brought my kids along and before we went on our way, we got to watch the resident farrier shoe a horse.

I’ve been thinking of that day lately, as I drive through the charred moonscape that was once the Ebrights’ lovely forest, and I wonder how much – if any – of the old family compound was saved.

When I say ‘old’, I’m not kidding. “Shrimp’s” grandfather, Dr. Charles Brooks Brigham, began bringing his family to Tahoe before most people ever heard of the place:

To help the reader imagine the hardships and sublime desolation of a late-19th Century summer at Tahoe, I offer one of the photos I was returning to the Ebrights, showing the beautiful lines of the Mower-designed day cruiser Pirate, idling off Rubicon Point about 1915 with Harry Babcock (Dr. Brigham’s brother-in-law) at the wheel:

Pirate was only one of several dozen grand yachts in use on Tahoe prior to 1920. These yachts and their owners are the subject of a history presentation I will be giving July 24, 2017 at 5 p.m. at the Tahoe Maritime Museum, just south of Tahoe City (corner of Hwy 89 and Granlibakken Road). I hope to see you there!

Meanwhile, I’ll be posting more photos and info about these grand old boats and the noteworthy Capitalists whose toys they were. Stay tuned!

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Tonight in Tahoe History – April 24

April 24, 2017 | Leave a comment

Lillian Vernon Farr Collection


Eighty-three years ago on this night, the old Tahoe Inn, Tahoe City’s most prominent landmark for nearly 40 years, burned to the ground.

The old Inn had evolved from the town’s first residence, built in 1864 by Bill Pomin, through modifications by later owners Robert Montgomery Watson and Wert Tong into a somewhat stately edifice with a wide veranda that had a claim on the attention of every traveler.

E.B. Scott, in his The Saga of Lake Tahoe, (v 1, p 47) devoted only one sentence to the calamity, and so the details in the following account supply most of what we know about the blaze that forever changed the Tahoe City skyline:

When the new day dawned, the remains of the old hostelry, the dancehall and the old Log Cabin saloon lay beneath a few inches of fresh snow.

The summer season was not far off. Could owner Carl Bechdolt rebuild his ruined Inn in time?

The answer to this question, plus the history of the Tahoe Inn and the remarks of three eyewitnesses to the fire, are included in my book Tahoe City’s First 100 Years, available by clicking on this link:


Today, the building that replaced the old Tahoe Inn is home to the Blue Agave Restaurant.

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Today in Tahoe History – March 31

March 31, 2017 | 2 Comments

In the late 1920s, when exhibition ski jumping and ski meets were first staged on the Tahoe Tavern Winter Sports Grounds (now known as Granlibakken), the need for an onsite facility to shelter and sustain spectators and participants soon led to the construction of a warming hut at the bottom of the toboggan hill, near the present location of Granlibakken’s tennis courts.

The hut was usually staffed by members of the Lake Tahoe Ski Club and offered a varied menu to its hearty clientele.

from SS&TR, June 8, 1933, Tahoe Region News

The operation of the toboggan hill is described by Holly Rose, son of Captain Henry Rose of the Steamer Tahoe:

This popular attraction might have continued for many more years, but on this date in 1938, it was discovered that the enormous winter just then winding down had brought the warming hut to an unceremonious conclusion.

After mulling over their options, the Lake Tahoe Ski Club decided against rebuilding their crushed warming hut. They believed that future use of the Tavern property was in doubt, as management of the grand hotel had changed hands several times since the LTSC was formed.

Perhaps more important, the Tavern’s facilities were some distance from town, and in the days before regular snow removal, this meant that users had to ski in and out, using up valuable time and energy in the process. So when the slope above Fairway Drive was donated to the Club, they took advantage of its proximity to town and devoted their energies to improving that hill.

1964 view of the town ski hill

Not that use of the Tavern amenities was abandoned. Ski Canyon, as it was known, remained a destination for snow sports activities, and Olympic Hill continued to be the venue for Class A jumping.

In 1947, through the efforts of Kjell “Rusty” Rustad, the former Tavern Winter Sports Grounds became Granlibakken, and in future years would be the host of local, state and national ski and jumping meets.

“Rusty” understood the importance of having a place to warm up and get a bite to eat, and he built his own Ski Hut, which is still in operation today (more about that in a future installment).

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time to shovel your roof?


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Today in Tahoe History – March 30

March 30, 2017 | Leave a comment

On this date in 1907, with record high water lapping against the top of the dam in Tahoe City and inundating low-lying lakefront property, the success of the coming summer season seemed in extreme jeopardy.


In spite of the superlative circumstances described and the dire predictions of a cancelled season, the summer of 1907 was a grand one at Lake Tahoe, and in fact, was superlative in its own right…even at Tallac.


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