Large, all-encompassing, and beautiful – it’s what visitors usually think when they look at Lake Tahoe. But there are hidden depths – both literally and figuratively – to the Lake of the Sky with centuries of history that stretch back to the 1860s and beyond. While the great outdoors and numerous ski resorts are two of the most popular destinations in Tahoe for the adventurous and outdoorsman, the rich past of the Sierra Nevada will draw in the history buff and nostalgic visitor among them.
Below are just a few of the historic sites you can visit while staying at The Ridge Tahoe.
The Flames of Olympic Glory
Where to find it: Squaw Valley
Technically outside of the Lake Tahoe Basin, Squaw Valley is what spurred the area’s massive growth and expansion. The cause? The 1960 Winter Olympics took place in Squaw Valley, requiring speedy land development to accommodate the athletes, organizers and crowds from around the world. The 1960 Olympics were not only the first and only Olympics to be held in the area, but they were also the first to be nationally televised, as well as the first to house participating athletes in an Olympic Village.
Go for glory at the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Courtesy: Squaw Valley
While turning into Squaw Valley, be sure to look to the statues and the Olympic torch that remains lit. Peruse the artifacts of Olympic glory at the Olympic Museum in the Village.
The Great Gatsby-esque Extravagance
Where to find it: Tallac Historic Site
On the South Shore of Lake Tahoe resides magnificent estates collectively known as the Tallac Historic Site. The Tallac Historic Site includes Baldwin Estate, the Pope Estate and Valhalla and, among other things, was once home to Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin’s “Greatest Casino in America” (the foundation of the casino remains on site). On the beaches of the lake, the Pope Estate was the most luxurious and the oldest in South Lake Tahoe while the Valhalla Estate was home to many gatherings and social functions in the early half of the 20th century.
Imagine a leisurely afternoon spent on this lawn. Courtesy: Valhalla / Tahoe South
The Tallac Historic Site is open to for public tours in the summer months. Every August the site hosts The Great Gatsby Festival that harkens back to the days of the 1920s with classic cars, vintage children’s games, period shopping and the Gatsby Tea and Fashion Show complete with bootleg champagne.
Scandinavian Architecture, Classic Tahoe
Where to find it: Vikingsholm Castle
As any visitor of Emerald Bay can attest, the Vikingsholm Castle on the shores of the bay is a sight to behold from afar and even more breathtaking up close. Situated in the forest and the only estate for miles, Vikingsholm was constructed as a Scandinavian architectural masterpiece in the 1860s and was the summer home of Lora Josephine Knight from 1928 until her death in 1945. Knight built the famous tea house that resides on Fannette Island, the only island in the lake and accessible via boat, kayak and paddle board, where she hosted afternoon tea for friends.
Experience the exquisite furnishings and details up close with tours of Vikingsholm during the summer.
For a full history of the Lake Tahoe area, we recommend visiting any of the Lake Tahoe museums.