TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Mark Twain just can’t stop causing controversy, not even 101 years after his death. From the ruckus about Huckleberry Finn (published 128 years ago), to being tried in the 21st century for his 19th century attitudes, Twain continues to stir things up. Now the question of where Twain camped on Lake Tahoe has inspired the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City to host the “Mark Twain Tahoe Mystery Public Festivity,” featuring two authors with competing theories. The event, which kicks off a summer-long public opinion poll about the two possible sites, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 21 at the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City. It is rumored the famous white-suited author himself will be in attendance .
Twain was known as Sam Clemens in his native town of Hannibal, Miss. He moved to the Carson City, Nev. area in the 1860s. Detailed in “Roughing It” and his letters home, Twain’s adventures in the region left an indelible impression on him. When Twain and a partner came to Lake Tahoe to stake a timber claim and get rich, he fell in love with the lake. Twain built a campfire that accidentally spread, starting a low-burning forest fire. The exact location of Twain’s camp has never been officially determined.
Two authors recently offered competing theories of Twain’s Lake Tahoe campsite location. Robert Stewart, in his book “Finding Sam Clemens’ Cove at Lake Tahoe, Nevada,” pegs a site near Sand Harbor State Park, Nev. David Antonucci, in his book “Fairest Picture,” pinpoints a site near Speedboat Beach, on Tahoe’s north shore in California. Both offer their reasoning and background information to support their conclusions.
The Gatekeeper’s Museum invites the public to play detective, starting with the upcoming event. Maps and books will be available and people are urged to explore the sites and report their findings, which will be posted and tracked at www.northtahoemuseums.org
The event is free for North Lake Tahoe Historical Society members. A $10 donation is suggested for non-members. Participation in the poll is free.
The Gatekeeper’s Museum is located in the log cabin next to Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City. The NLTHS preserves and presents Lake Tahoe history, holding it in trust for present and future generations.
The Museum’s exhibits and programs excite people about Tahoe history and strengthen the sense of community and place. Memberships start at $30, with student memberships available for $5. The museum is open year round. For more information, visit www.northtahoemuseums.org.