Tahoe may seem like all sunshine, clean air and an abundance of nature, but there’s hundreds of years of history as deeply rooted as its towering trees. Take a journey through history by visiting the following sites located in the Tahoe Basin.
Tallac Historic Site: Containing the Baldwin Estate, the Pope Estate and Valhalla, Tallac Historic Site is a haven of beautiful and original architecture from the the golden age of the 1920s. These impressive structures were owned by some of the most powerful families in Tahoe and have been restored to their former glory for the public’s enjoyment. Sites include the Tallac Resort, formerly known as the “Greatest Casino in America,” the Baldwin Estate Washoe Exhibit and the impressive Valhalla Estate, built in 1924 to entertain guests of the Heller family. Tallac is also home to the Gatsby Festival, which celebrates the height of 1920s decadence with fashion shows, tea parties and more.
“Tahoe’s Hidden Castle” – Courtesy: Curtis Simmons
Vikingsholm: Any trip through Emerald Bay is incomplete without a moment to appreciate the beauty of Vikingsholm and Fannette Island. Vikingsholm, also known as “Tahoe’s Hidden Castle,” was built by Lora Josephine Knight in 1929. The unique Scandinavian building hosted Knight and her many guests during Tahoe summers until Knight’s death in 1945. The property was acquired by the State of California in 1953 and can be seen either by boat or up close after a hike from the Vikingsholm parking lot. Its counterpart, Fannette Island, includes a tiny home that was previously used by Knight and her guests for afternoon tea. It is accessible by boat.
Fleur du Lac Estates: Many know of Fleur du Lac because of its prominent role in “The Godfather II.” Its role in cinematic history notwithstanding, the estate was originally built for Henry J. Kaiser as a venue to celebrate the completion of the Hoover Dam. Heads of powerful companies including the Pacific Bridge Company, J.F. Shea Co., which built the Golden Gate Bridge, and Utah Construction were among the many gatherings that would occur at Fleur du Lac. Fleur du Lac can be seen by boat.
Thunderbird Lodge – Courtesy: Thunderbird Lake Tahoe
Thunderbird Lodge: Another gorgeous estate on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the Thunderbird Lodge was constructed by George Whittell, Jr., an heir to a wealthy San Francisco family. In addition to the Lodge, Whittell owned 95% of the Nevada shoreline on Lake Tahoe. After Whittell’s death in 1969, Jack Dreyfus of Dreyfus of Dreyfus bought the property and the adjacent 10,000 acres, subsequently selling the majority of land to the U.S. Forest Service. Currently the Lodge hosts dinners, weddings and other special events. Tours are available.