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.
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
The Embarcadero, Tahoe City
Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe – Teams on the road 1870
Old Lake Tahoe from Artists’ Point (1875)
Lake from Tahoe City
Tahoe City from the lake (1875)
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Seen from the Warm Springs
Shakespeare Rock, Glenbrook
Vintage scenes of Tahoe from around 1915
ALSO SEE: Beautiful pictures of old Pasadena from the days before cars
Get our Tahoe vintage-style license plate T-shirt!
Old Lake Tahoe along the Nevada Shore Cave Rock and Mt. Tallac (1940s)
Beautiful Lake Tahoe as seen from the highway
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
Camp Richardson dining room on South Shore
Camp Richardson’s Hotel on South Shore, Lake Tahoe
On the beach at Lake Tahoe (1940s)
Enchanting Lake Tahoe in the 1950s
MORE: The story of California’s Lake Almanor, and how the scenic destination got its name