The Discovery of Lake Tahoe in 1844

Exploring Lake Tahoe

The discovery of Lake Tahoe in 1844 was an accidental one. John C. Fremont was searching for the Buenaventura River. From what was probably Red Lake Peak, Fremont moved his eyes towards the west, and noticed a singled-out pass. In the excitement of finding a way through the threatening heights, Fremont forgot to name the gorgeous lake he had just discovered. After achieving his goal, he did rectify his error and called the lake ‘Lake Bonpland’ after a French explorer. The lake, however, was never referred to by this name; indeed, for some reason it was called ‘Lake Bigler’. This continued until 1862 when an admirer of the basin, William Henry Knight, decided to call it ‘Lake Tahoe’.

Development of Lake Tahoe actually began only in the 1950s. Roads going towards the basin began to be plowed every year, thereby making way for a permanent residence. And in the Winter Olympics of 1960 at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe was finally put on the map as a famous skiing center of the United States.

Tahoe basin is surrounded by the Sierra crest on the west side and the Carson Range on the east. Also, there is a prominent volcano to the north of the lake. Before its discovery, the Lake Tahoe Basin was a summer congregation area for three bands of Washoe Indians. For this tribe, Lake Tahoe always held a spiritual meaning, and was also a place where sacred ceremonies were held.

With time, the attractions at Lake Tahoe have shifted from the traditional tranquility of Sierra to casinos, skiing and hotels. However, Lake Tahoe still continues to offer visitors a taste of historic eras and the eternal beauty of the lake itself.

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