If you are a history enthusiast, "Images of America: Lake Tahoe's West Shore" by Carol A. Jensen, will immediately pique your interest. But even if your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of history this well-done paperback published by the Arcadia Company holds exceptional appeal, especially if you have a special connection with Lake Tahoe.
Created in conjunction with North Lake Tahoe's Historical Society, Jensen provides a comprehensive timeline of historical events focused on the opening of the West Shore and she brings them to life in a dazzling photographic display. Some may refer to it as a coffee table book. Although it's smaller in size than most in that order, it will adorn a table nicely and intrigue anyone who chooses to take a peek inside.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and there is no shortage of pictures in "Lake Tahoe's West Shore." In fact, it's all about the pictures. But they are not just ordinary ones; they're of the vintage variety. Some images are incredible, others perplexing and some sad. Featured photos illustrate the construction of lavish five star resorts, early transportation modes and the clear cutting of our beautiful pine forests during the Gold Rush. You will see the Washoe people driven into domestic roles as land is defiled and resources spent. You might chuckle, as I did, at photos of women climbing snowy granite rocks wearing long skirts and wide-rimmed hats, some adorned with flowers. Then there are the families who came to Lake Tahoe and established traditions that are still in place today. Do not skip the narratives. To do so would be a shame. Read the captions and chapter introductions. They are central to the overall content. You won't be sorry.
John C. Fremont and Charles Preuss were the first European-Americans to discover the "lake of the sky" in 1844 and from there it all began. Early pioneers most notably Duane L. Bliss, take center stage for the unfolding of the West Shore's economic development. Build and they will come! They certainly did.
An influx of high society travelers arrived on our shores in great numbers. Many resided in San Francisco and had made a lucrative return on Gold Rush fever. They established fabulous summer homes and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle at the lake. They were not the only ones who came. Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Buster Keaton and Jeanette McDonald arrived to work and play as well. Movie moguls, Christian evangelists and notables such as Mark Twain and John Steinbeck found solace and inspiration here. Mark Twain wrote "Roughing It" in 1872. It is a tale spun from his Tahoe experience.
A quick and easy read, "Lake Tahoe's West Shore" can be devoured on a leisurely afternoon. It will take you to the Tahoe Tavern, Rubicon Bay, the Foursquare Church in Tahoma and the ski jump on Olympic Hill. You'll be introduced to Schlueter's Lodge, "located in the tall pines in an area free from poison oak, rattlesnakes, wind and uncomfortable heat." Early maps, railway tickets and lavish menus are included in this grand pictorial collection.
- Gloria Sinibaldi resides part-time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story "A Means To Survive"
appears in "Tahoe Blues." She's a job coach, trainer and author. She contributes monthly to the business section of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Contact her at: email@example.com