Lake Tahoe Museums
When you come to Lake Tahoe, be sure
to visit the interesting and informative assortment of museums
in the Basin.
SOUTH SHORE MUSEUMS
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 historical information.
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
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 operation.
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
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
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
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 culture.
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
Emigrant Trail Museum
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
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 staff.
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 1978.
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
Steinbach 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.
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 Places.
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 results.
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
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, Tennis, Tubing.