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Lake Tahoe (January 2002)

Centuries ago, the Washo Indians named the Lake Tahoe area "Da-ow-a-ga", or "edge of the lake". Early explores however, unaccustomed to their native tongue, interpreted the phrase as "Tahoe".

It has been said that Lake Tahoe was "discovered" on Valentines Day in 1844 by early explorer Capt. John Charles Fremont and his party during their exploration of the west.

Capt. Fremont christened the lake "Lake Bonpland", although the topographer of the exploration party noted it on his maps as "Mountain Lake" In 1854 the lake was renamed "Bigler Lake' in honor of the third Governor of California, John Bigler, and in 1945 the lake finally received Lake Tahoe as its official name.

image of Lake TahoeThe peaceful silence surrounding Lake Tahoe was broken not long after the first pioneers' arrival. By the 1860s, silver was discovered in the Sierra Nevada. Would-be miners rushed to Lake Tahoe to circumnavigate the Tahoe Basin. By the turn of the century, elite families of San Francisco and the wealthy, seeking a new scenic getaway, flocked to Lake Tahoe to stay at the area's plush new hotels.

Although the development of the Lake Tahoe area has come far, modern planners today use the ancient wisdom of the Washo Indians when building in the area. Realizing the need to preserve the Lake's beauty in the face of progress, California and Nevada formed the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1968 to oversee environmentally responsible development in the Lake Tahoe basin. The agency's balanced approach has enabled them to limit construction in the basin while devising a redevelopment plan that will improve the economy, tourist access and the environment.

Lake Tahoe Facts:

  • 12 Miles Wide
  • 22 Miles Long
  • 72 Miles of Shoreline
  • 989 Feet Average Depth
  • 1,645 Feet Maximum Depth
  • 191 Square Miles of Total Surface
  • 65 - 79 degrees Average Temperature in August

Related Links:
Valhalla Story (February 2000)
El Dorado County Visitors Authority

South Shore's On-Line Guide