Tahoe Creation, First People & Discovery
Early sketch of Lake Tahoe, 1855. Lake Tahoe is located in a basin formed by the Carson and Crystal ranges of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The lake, which is twenty-two miles long and twelve miles wide, is positioned along the Nevada-California state line. Tahoe’s natural environment, the beautiful alpine setting of the lake, and the clarity of its waters have made the basin popular with natives and tourists alike.
Crystal Bay and Incline Village were created by the same volcanic thunder that spewed Mount Pluto, the principal mountain at Northstar at Tahoe resort and the 7200 foot Brockway Summit. The eruptions threw forth giant smooth boulders called talus.
Dating back at least 7,000 years – four hundred generations – the Washoes, Wa-She-Shu e Da-ow-ago have inhabited the Tahoe Basin. One village of the first people to enjoy the hot springs at Crystal Bay Point and partake of the lush hunting and fishing of the north shore. Mill Creek, the present site of Incline Village, a favored summer camp. The gentle Washoe women excelled in woven basketry. Dat So La Lee became the most celebrated basket weaver in the Americas. The Washoe called Tahoe “Da-ow-a-ga.”
Early sketch of Lake Tahoe, 1855. Explorer John Charles Frémont’s 1844 exploration party led by scout, Christopher “Kit” Carson, is credited with the discovery of the 22-mile long Lake Tahoe on Valentine’s Day. They first saw the alpine lake from the 10,651 foot elevation of Red Lake Peak on the eastern side of the lake.
Frémont would name the pass they came through for his scout Carson and the lake for the French scientist, Bonpland. The lake was renamed Bigler, for California’s third Governor, until it was learned that the governor sympathized with the Southern secessionists during the American Civil War. The lake was finally renamed “Tahoe,” a combination of Washoe words for “big lake” and “high blue water,” and always pronounced TAY-HO.