Hermit's Ghost Haunts Emerald Bay
He was called the "Hermit of Emerald Bay" and is said to have been the first white man to call Emerald bay, at Lake Tahoe, home. Dick Barter, aka "Captain Dick", was an Englishman who moved to Emerald Bay in 1863 and worked for the Overland Stage Company as an undertaker. He made his home on the shores of Emerald Bay and lived there for 10 years. He lived alone and died an untimely death in 1873.
"Captain Dick" Was known to be quite a colorful character, one who led an adventuresome life. Locally, he was best known as the man who built his own tomb and small chapel on the summit of the island, after nearly being killed in an accident in 1870.
From time to time "Captain Dick enjoyed sailing from Emerald Bay to one of the neighboring towns for provisions and to visit with friends in local saloons.
It was a crisp day in January, 1870, when Captain Dick rowed out of the bay for Tahoe City, seventeen miles to the North. He decided to test the strength of the liquor at the Tahoe House that day, and after downing his last drink he boarded his boat and rowed south into the icy water, towards home.
About half way into the voyage his boat capsized, near Sugar Pine Point, plunging the good "Captain" and its contents into the freezing abyss. While Captain Dick did manage to right the boat and continue his trip home, he was half frozen. When the "Captain" finally got home, he crawled to his bed and collapsed. He was near dead. He remained in his bed, unconscious, for several days.
When Captain Dick finally woke, he found that several of his toes had frozen and become gangrenous. With no one to help him, Captain Dick utilizing a carving knife, amputated his own toes. After that day, when visitors would drop in, Captain Dick delighted in telling the tale of his narrow brush with death. He would bring out a box and display its contents saying… "Them's my toes!"
Captain Dick constructed his burial chamber in the granite rock of Fannette Island. Above his tomb, he erected a wooden chapel and mounted a wooden cross on top.
From that day forward, Captain Dick let it be known to all that he was to be buried there should his body one day wash ashore, or should he be found lashed to the mast of his sailboat, the "Nancy".
Captain Dick Barter made his final voyage in 1873. He drowned in 1,400 feet of water and the "Nancy" was discovered smashed against the rocks at Rubicon Point. His body was never recovered. He was 66 years old.
To this day, folks claim that on cold winter evenings, when a mist covers Emerald Bay, the ghost of Captain Dick can be seen rising from the icy depths of the lake, to ascend the steep craggy rocks of Fannette Island, hoping to find the crypt that was to be his final resting place.
The same year Captain Dick died; Amos Bowman honored his memory on his map of El Dorado County by naming the 9,193 foot peak overlooking Rubicon Point, Captain Dick's Mountain. Unfortunately, that place name did not survive into the modern era. Captain Dick's Mountain is today known as Rubicon Peak.
Story by Anthony M. Belli,
Edited by Stephanie Bishop, IS, El Dorado County
SOURCES Tales of Tahoe by David J. Stollery Jr. 1970
Related Links: California State Parks