When you come to Lake Tahoe, be sure to visit the interesting and
informative assortment of museums in the Basin.
South Lake Tahoe Historical Society and Museum
The South Lake Tahoe Historical Society operates the museum and
is devoted to the study of the heritage of the Lake Tahoe Basin
and dedicated to the collection, preservation and distribution of
The museum features displays which chronicle the development of
the Lake Tahoe Basin from its earliest occupation by Native Americans
through its 19th century development to the present time.
Located at the south end of the largest, deepest Alpine Lake in
the U.S., the museum presents visual and educational exhibits that
tell the story of its development while displaying outstanding artifacts
collected from residents and visitors in its quarter century of
Within the past 150 years the Lake Tahoe Basin was settled, expanded,
drew new visitors and permanent settlers. The continuing saga includes
U.S. discovery, westward moving wagon trains, gold and silver rush
traffic through the basin, Pony Express stations, logging and railroad
industries the development of tourism, skiing and more.
A Special Exhibit area features events of current importance and
interest for the museum and the community. The museum shop sells
books and other related material that concerns Lake Tahoe. Material
in the museum and its archives is available for use by visitors,
researchers and history buffs and includes large photographic and
archival collections, oral histories and a small library.
Just behind the museum, visitors can see the old Log Cabin, built
in 1931, and the oldest building still standing in the Lake Tahoe
Basin, Osgood's Toll House, built in 1859. A few blocks west, Bijou
Community Park houses the museum's Lake Valley Railroad narrow gauge
and log carrier exhibit.
The museum is open daily in the summer between 11:00 a.m and 4:00
p.m. and on weekends in the winter between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
The South Lake Tahoe Historical Society and Museum
3058 Lake Tahoe Blvd. / U.S. HWY 50
South Lake Tahoe
This 150-acre site was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1986 for its historic and architectural significance.
Take an easy walk through the Tallac Historic Site and relive the
luxurious resort era and summer homes of the early 1900s. Three
original 1920 era estates on beautiful grounds are part of this
walk by the lake.
Tallac Resort (1880-1920)
Look for the concrete foundation
of the "Greatest Casino in
America," originally part of Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin's
resort that catered to the nouveau rich from San Francisco, Sacramento
and Virginia City.
This building, now a house museum,
was built in 1921 by Dextra Baldwin, a granddaughter of "Lucky" Baldwin.
The building currently houses the Tallac Museum, Baldwin Museum
and the Washoe Exhibit. The nearby guest cabins offer art exhibits
and workshops during the summer.
Estate Washoe Exhibit
The Washoe Indian Cultural Foundation Exhibit is located in the
Baldwin Museum. The Washoe display includes housing, artifacts,
pictures and a slide presentation. Visit the area the Washoe called
home in the summer months. The Baldwin Museum, Washoe Gardens and
special programs offer an opportunity to learn about the Washoe
For more information about the Washoes,
write or call:
Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California
Archive & Cultural Center
861 Crescent Drive
Carson City, NV 89701
The Pope house was built in 1894 by George Talant. In 1899, it was
sold to Lloyd Tevis. His son, Will, expanded and remodeled it into
the largest and most luxurious of the area. It was purchased by
George Pope in 1923. This oldest estate is also the largest and
most elaborate. As the interpretive center for the site, special
programs and guided tours in the many buildings, gardens and grounds
are available. The Pope Estate is home for The Great Gatsby Festival
each year in August.
Walter Heller built Valhalla in 1924 and entertained guests during
the summer months for about twenty years. Eventually the estate
was sold in 1965 to the South Tahoe Valhalla Corporation, whose
attempt to turn it into a private club failed. With its large lawn,
large hall and large stone fireplace, Valhalla is popular for public
and private gatherings.
Call for information about tours, programs and special events.
Tallac Historic Site
USDA Forest Service Visitor Center
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
870 Emerald Bay Road
South Lake Tahoe
SR 89, near Fallen Leaf Lake
MEMORIAL STATE PARK MUSEUMS
The museum was completed in 1962 after 15 years of effort by local
citizens, park staff members and legislators. Open all year, the
museum includes exhibits about the natural history of the Truckee
Basin area, local Indian life, the overland immigration of the 1840s,
the Donner tragedy, construction of the transcontinental railroad,
lumbering and ice harvesting. Books, postcards, posters and maps
can be purchased.
Located near the museum, the monument was erected in honor of all
those who made the difficult trek across the western plains and
mountains to reach California during the 1840s. Work on the monument
began in 1901 when the Native Sons of the Golden West purchased
the site and constructed the stone base on which the bronze statue
stands today. The monument was officially completed and officially
dedicated June 6, 1918.
This is the site of the Breen Cabin, one of the structures used
by members of the Donner Party during the winter of 1846-1847. The
Murphy Cabin site is located about 100 yards south of the museum.
A gentle, self-guiding nature trail starts near the museum and makes
a loop through the forest. An easy mile-long lakeside interpretive
trail starts in the lagoon portion of the day-use area and continues
along Donner Lake.
Several times a week throughout the summer, guided hikes start at
the museum. They range from one or two hours in length to more ambitious
all-day hikes. Campfire programs start at dark. Details and a schedule
of interpretive programs can be obtained by contacting the park
Emigrant Trail Museum
Donner Memorial State Park
12593 Donner Pass Road
NORTH LAKE TAHOE
HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUMS
The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation,
study and presentation of Lake Tahoe History. It built the Gatekeeper's
Museum and maintains the Gatekeeper's Museum, the Marion Steinbach
Indian Basket Museum, William B. Layton Park and the nearby Watson
Situated among ancient conifers on the south bank of Lake Tahoe's
only outlet, the museum was built in 1981 with funds raised by the
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. The hand-carved log cabin is
built from lodgepole pines. It stands on the same foundation as
the original Gatekeeper's Cabin, which was destroyed by a fire in
The original log cabin, built between 1910 and 1913, served as the
home of the resident gatekeeper whose duties included the measuring
and regulation of Tahoe's water level within legally prescribed
limits. Between 1910 and 1968, five different men are known to have
held the position of gatekeeper, each one in turn occupying the
cabin while carrying out the duties of the position. In 1968, the
decision to raise or lower Tahoe's water level became the province
of the Federal Watermaster's Office in Reno, though the physical
process of raising and lowering the 17 gates of the dam continues
to be carried out at this location.
The Museum features the history of Lake Tahoe including Indian
artifacts, natural history displays, stories of our pioneers and
the Ellen Attardi Library --a research library which includes books,
oral histories, newspapers and photographs. Revolving displays are
presented each summer from private collections along with permanent
reading and photo displays.
Indian Basket Museum
The Edmund S. Barnett wing of the Gatekeeper's Museum houses the
Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Collection. Marion Steinbach's lifelong
interest in Native American art and culture led her to study and
collect representative baskets and artifacts. By the time of her
death in 1991, she had gathered over 800 rare and diverse baskets
from over 85 tribes, dolls, artifacts and a Southwestern pottery
collection --all fully described and documented --and a native American
research library. It was her intent to collect a variety of basket
and artifact types from as many tribes as possible, and the woven
works range in size from burden baskets measuring nearly three feet
in diameter to highly detailed miniatures as small as 1/4 inch.
Adding to the intriguing diversity of the collection are such artifacts
as gambling trays and caribou hoof rattles.
Edmund S. Barnett, for whom the museum wing which houses the basket
collection was named, also passed away in 1991. For more than 30
years he had practiced law in Incline Village and selflessly devoted
his free time and multiple talents to countless civic causes on
the North Shore and beyond. He had been an active member and supporter
of the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society since its inception,
serving as its president, attorney and dauntless guiding light.
The museums are open between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.:
May 1 to June 15, Wednesday thru Sunday
June 15 to Labor Day, Daily
September - Wednesday thru Sunday
October to April - Weekends only between 11:00a.m to 3:00p.m.
The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society's
Gatekeeper's Museum & Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum
William B. Layton Park
130 West Lake Blvd.
Watson Cabin Museum
This honeymoon cottage with original furnishings is the oldest structure
standing in Tahoe City. It was built by Robert Montgomery Wilson
between 1908 and 1909. It even had the city's first indoor private
bathroom! The museum is listed on the National Register of Historic
The museum is open daily for tours between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
June 15 through Labor Day.
Watson Cabin Museum
560 North Lake Blvd.
VIII Olympic Winter Games Museum
On Thursday, February 18, 1960, under
storm-threatening skies, the greatest winter athletes in the
world gathered in Squaw Valley. As the sun broke through briefly,
2,000 pigeons were released into the air. A throng of 1,000
competitors and 20,000 spectators stood hushed as the Olympic
Torch completed a 9,000 mile odyssey from Europe and was placed
in front of the Tower of Nations. Following the Olympic Oath
and the Star Spangled Banner, Avery Bundy declared the Games "open" while
the sky erupted into a kaleidoscope of fireworks and colorful
balloons. Thus began the VIII Olympic
Winter Games at Squaw Valley.
At that time, the 1960 Winter Games were the largest ever held,
with 34 nations competing in 15 Alpine and ski jumping events, 8
speed skiing contests, 3 figure skating competitions and 28 hockey
matches. Making its Olympic debut was the women's speed skiing and
the men's biathlon, a combination of Nordic skiing and rifle marksmanship.
The Squaw Games were highlighted by many other Winter Olympic "firsts." They
were the first Winter Games to be nationally televised and to house
the athletes in their own Olympic Village. For the first time in
winter Olympic history artificial refrigeration was utilized for
speed skating events and electronic computers were used to tally
The VIII Winter
Olympics propelled Squaw Valley into the world spotlight and spurred
a tremendous growth in winter sports -- especially Alpine skiing.
Thanks to the daring and vision of Alexander C. Cushing, Founder
and Chairman of the Board of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, Tahoe
has never been the same -- it has only become better!
While vacationing in Lake Tahoe, take some time to visit the Olympic
Winter Games Museum. The large expanses of glass windows and spaciousness
encourage you to view the outdoor scenery, relax with a book and
leisurely browse the glass showcases and displays that contain all
manner of memorabilia from the 1960 VIII Olympic
Squaw Valley USA
1960 Squaw Valley Road
Central Reservations & Information
Squaw Valley Switchboard
Visit the RECREATION main
menu for information about other Squaw Valley activities: Aerial
Cable Car, Bungee Jumping, Challenge Ropes Course, Climbing Wall,
Day Care, Hiking/Winter, Hiking/Summer, Ice Skating, Mountain Biking,
Skiing, Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Swimming,