South Shore Tahoe History Trail grows in size — and popularity |

South Shore Tahoe History Trail grows in size — and popularity

Autumn Whitney
A Tahoe History Trail sign hangs amongst others on the wall of RoJo's Tavern. The sign, marking one of the history hunt locations in South Lake Tahoe's Al Tahoe neighborhood, awaits a permanent post.
Autumn Whitney / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The Lake Tahoe Basin is rich with history — and South Shore’s historical society is working on a means to make it easily accessible. Throughout South Lake Tahoe’s Al Tahoe neighborhood are blue and white signs featuring QR codes, which are part of Lake Tahoe Historical Society’s collaboration with the City of South Lake Tahoe to create what is known as the Tahoe History Trail.

So, what is it? The trail tells South Lake Tahoe history through a self-guided tour. When you use your smart phone to scan sign codes, information about the spot, as well as photos of what the place used to look like, pop up on your screen.

But if you don’t have a smart phone or QR code reader – don’t worry. The information can be accessed online through the historical society’s website.

“This would really be a cool program, not just for the historical society, but for the city in general,” Lake Tahoe Historical Society vice president Lee Vestal said. “Residents would develop more community pride in significant history, and businesses could promote their own businesses and get folks into their business.”

Temporary signs were posted last summer, but this year’s project focuses on making the spots permanent. Posts were installed to hold the signs, which will also see an update in the near future. The signs are now made of plastic, but members of Lake Tahoe Historical Society are seeking to create new, metal ones — that are longer lasting and require less maintenance.

“I think the response we’ve received from the general public is great. It seems like folks really are looking forward to this whole thing,” Vestal said.

Al Tahoe is the first neighborhood to be part of the history trail. There are currently nine posts installed throughout the area behind Harrison Avenue, but Vestal expressed interest in installing two more Al Tahoe locations before summer ends.

“I think we’re pretty close to saturation in that neighborhood. Right now we have nine, plus one more [post] at RoJo’s — that’s 10. I think if we put two more in there, that’ll give us 12 and that’s plenty,” Vestal said.

The idea for the Tahoe History Trail came to Vestal approximately two and a half years ago. A homeowner in Benicia, California, Vestal was perusing his downtown and saw small, yellow signs with QR codes advertising location history. He scanned the code on his phone and a brief paragraph of information appeared on his screen.

“I thought this would work up at South Lake Tahoe. I took the idea up to Diane [Johnson] and we started kicking it around,” Vestal said.

Lake Tahoe Historical Society is looking to eventually reach the history trail throughout the entire South Shore. Current locations range from RoJo’s Tavern to Washoe sites and Tahoe’s first resort.

“Each location has a different story,” Lake Tahoe Historical Society president Diane Johnson said.

Next summer, Vestal and Johnson hope to expand the hunt to other neighborhoods. Johnson said they are currently working with Lakeside Park Homeowners Association to bring the program to the neighborhood near Stateline.

“We’ve had phone calls from various people who are interested in this program,” Johnson added.


To install posts, Lake Tahoe Historical Society works alongside the City of South Lake Tahoe to choose locations with historical significance. According to both Johnson and Vestal, the city’s participation is vital to the success of Tahoe History Trail, as it must approve post locations; the city also paid for all costs associated with the first nine post purchases and installations.

Vestal said it costs approximately $350 to install each post. This does not include cost of the sign, which is upwards of $100. He said Lake Tahoe Historical Society is hoping to locate project sponsors to defray annual costs, and any sized donation will be accepted.

“Basically what we’re going to target in terms of sponsorship is $500,” he added. “That’ll give us extra cash for that particular post because we’ll have to go back every year to re-stain it and reset it. We’ll probably have to do a little bit of maintenance every year.”

To learn more about the history hunt, visit or visit the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum at 3058 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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