A freshwater lake located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, bestriding the border of the states California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is famous for not only its beaches but also is ski resorts— the two significant and leading attractions of the area’s economy and reputation. Popular amongst tourist in both Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is home to multiple winter sports, summer outdoor recreation, and picturesque scenery that is enjoyable throughout the year. When in southwest shore, Emerald Bay State Park, containing the 1929 Nordic-style mansion Vikingsholm, can be found.
Moreover, when in the lake’s northeast side, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park can be found with Sand Harbor Beach as well as Spooner Lake— a gateway to the long-distance Tahoe Rim Trail. The surface elevation for this lake is 1,897 m with an area of 496.2 km squared and a maximum depth of 1,645 ft. The secret to its astonishing blue color is its clean air and waters, which reflects the sky above it. However, not many bodies of waters can do this; the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, in which objects can be seen to depths over 70 feet, absorbs red light, which leaves the rich blue color we see.
Before anyone lived in the area, Lake Tahoe formed when the Sierra Nevada block was made by immense uplifting. The valley that eventually became the Tahoe basin descended between two parallel faults as the mountains on either side rose— water filled this and became the Lake Tahoe everyone loves and cherishes today. Despite having below freezing day and nights, the lake never manages to freeze due to its great depth and volume of water, which is always in motion and stops the lake from being frozen.
The history of the lake dates all the way back to thousands of years ago when only Native American tribes occupied the area. Artifacts have confirmed the presence of the Washoe Tribe of Native Americans at Lake Tahoe over 10,000 years ago. During their inhabitation, Native Americans camped as well as hunted and fished for food. Their daily peaceful routines were disrupted in the year 1844 when General John C. Fremont’s exploration party “discovered” the lake. Following the years after the “discovery” of Lake Tahoe, the area became virtually ignored. However, this changed in 1859 when the Comstock Lode was discovered in Virginia City, Nevada and Lake Tahoe eventually became the center of a lively commerce, which involved the silver mines in the city of Virginia and the Central Pacific Railroad.
This started the Comstock era which resulted in large-scale deforestation of the Tahoe Basin. Unfortunately, an estimate of 80 percent of the Basin’s forest was wiped out during this time, however, since then, public appreciation of Lake Tahoe along with its natural resources has grown. During the years of 1912, 1913, and 1918, congressional sessions as well as conservationists gave efforts to designate the Tahoe Basin as a national park but were not successful in their attempt. Fast forward to the 1940s and 1950s, a group of residents and visitors had concerns about the health of the region’s environment, which led to the formation of the League to Save Lake Tahoe.
For over 60 years, they have been continuous with working with the public and lawmakers to do the best for the lake over the long term and persuade them to protect the public’s interest in a pristine lake, rather than accepting short-term political, economic, or private interests. In 1998, the League spearheaded the effort to launch the Environmental Improvement Program, which has leveraged over one billion dollars in public and private funds to protect and restore Lake Tahoe.