Cave Rock provides historical, cultural insights |

Cave Rock provides historical, cultural insights

Gregory Crofton

Only since 1931 has a road tunneled straight through the heart of Cave Rock, an old volcano that sits on the East Shore near Glenbrook.

Before then, wagons and later cars drove around the lakeside of the mountain on a wooden bridge suspended more than 100 feet in the air. It was constructed in 1863, according to the Saga of Lake Tahoe, a two-volume history of the region by Edward B. Scott.

The Nevada Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service Highway Project spearheaded construction of the first tunnel. Records indicate it took three years and cost $375,000 to build.

As traffic increased at the lake, engineers widened and realigned the two-lane tunnel. The second tunnel was built in 1957 to accommodate northbound traffic. It cost $511,000.

Cave Rock got its name from caves it has on its west side. They formed thousands of years ago when the level of the lake was much higher than it is today. Construction workers blasted the first tunnel through one of the caves.

Among the Washoe tribe, the granite walls continue to have spiritual significance and because of Cave Rock’s history with the tribe, is among one of several reasons why the Forest Service has banned rock climbing at the site.

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