See old Lake Tahoe: How the Sierra vacation destination looked a long time ago

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See old Lake Tahoe How the Sierra vacation destination looked a long time ago
Here, take a look back at old Lake Tahoe — the big, beautiful freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that has been a popular vacation spot for generations.

From a first look from the Victorian era through the 1950s, see how this natural wonder that’s shared by California and Nevada has greeted visitors over the years.

A look at Lake Tahoe from 1883

From Beauties of California by Norman W Griswold (1883)

This beautiful lake (named after an Indian chief, “Tahoe,” and signifying “Big Water”) is noted for its great depth (reaching about 3,000 feet), crystal clearness, grand mountainous surroundings, and abundance of mountain trout, which can be seen at a depth of 80 feet below its surface.

The high mountains, from 2,000 to 5,000 feet surrounding the lake, are beautifully reflected in its mirror surface. The beauty of a sunrise reflected in the lake, oft-repeated by moving down the slope as the sun appears above the mountain peaks, is beyond description.

Tourists describe the golden sunsets upon Tahoe as remarkable for great beauty and variety of colors — and this being perfectly reflected in the lake is a magnificent sight distant line about 500 to 1,000 feet from shore; the water is emerald green, then dark blue.

Old Lake Tahoe postcard scene

Starting from the beautiful village of Glenwood in the pleasure steamer “Gov. Stanford” for a trip around the head of the lake, the first object of interest is Cave Rock, 400 feet in height.

After passing this rock and looking back, it resembles the Great South Dome of the Yosemite, split in two; and the cavern, 30 feet in length, is seen 100 feet above the ground. This trip gives the tourist a great variety of views and is a charming pastime.

The invalid will find Lake Tahoe a health-giving resort. The clear atmosphere, grand mountain scenery, and ever-changing sunsets give life, hope and health to the weary pilgrim, and encouragement to take a new lease of life.

To reach this lake, take Central Pacific R. R. to Truckee (distance 271 miles; fare $14.00), then stage to Tahoe (14 miles; fare $2.50).


Scenes of old Lake Tahoe in the 1870s

Lake Tahoe 1800s - Rocky Point, looking South, towards Cave Rock


The Embarcadero, Tahoe City

The Embarcadero, Tahoe City, Lake Tahoe


Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe – Teams on the road 1870

Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe - Teams on the road 1870


Old Lake Tahoe from Artists’ Point (1875)

Lake Tahoe from Artists' Point (1875)


Lake from Tahoe City

Lake Tahoe from Tahoe City 1875


Tahoe City from the lake (1875)

Tahoe City from the Lake 1875
ALSO SEE: Why there are Gold Rush-era ships still buried under downtown San Francisco


Seen from the Warm Springs

Lake Tahoe from the Warm Springs


Shakespeare Rock, Glenbrook

Shakespeare Rock, Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe


Vintage scenes of Tahoe from around 1915

Old Lake Tahoe in 1915 (1)

Old Lake Tahoe in 1915 (2)

ALSO SEE: Beautiful pictures of old Pasadena from the days before cars

Old Lake Tahoe in 1915 (3)

Vintage Lake Tahoe scenes - 1910s


Get our Tahoe vintage-style license plate T-shirt!

Tahoe t-shirt


Old Lake Tahoe along the Nevada Shore Cave Rock and Mt. Tallac (1940s)

Lake Tahoe along the Nevada Shore Cave Rock and Mt. Tallac - Vintage postcard 1941


Beautiful Lake Tahoe as seen from the highway

Beautiful Lake Tahoe as seen from the highway - 1940s postcard


Highway and resort map of Lake Tahoe (1940s)

Highway and resort map of Lake Tahoe 1940s

ALSO SEE: Gary Cooper’s mountain hideaway: How the Hollywood star adored Aspen (1949)


Homewood Resort Lodge Lake Tahoe – Vintage postcard

Homewood Resort Lodge Lake Tahoe - Vintage postcard


Camp Richardson dining room on South Shore

Camp Richardson dining room on South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Calif


Camp Richardson’s Hotel on South Shore, Lake Tahoe

Camp Richardson's Hotel on South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Calif 1940s


On the beach at Lake Tahoe (1940s)

On the beach at Lake Tahoe 1940s


Enchanting Lake Tahoe in the 1950s

Enchanting Lake Tahoe scenes from the 1950s - 1951

MORE: The story of California’s Lake Almanor, and how the scenic destination got its name

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