New City Hall display serves as roadmap to Tahoe history

City Council, South Tahoe Chamber members and historical society reveal a tree slab display.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Before the City Council meeting came to order on Tuesday evening, the South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce revealed a shiny slice of history.

One of six slices of a local tree is now on display at City Hall serving as a roadmap to basin history.

The felled tree became art and history in one thanks to a joint effort between the City, South Tahoe Chamber, Kenny Curtzwiler of K & K Tree Services, the Lake Tahoe Historical Society and Ed Cook Tree Service.

“It’s a local South Tahoe tree that was cut down around the end of 2015 by Ed Cook Tree Service,” said Amanda Adams of South Tahoe Chamber. “Ed saved it because of its unique features.” 

Adams said it was also chosen for its age. The center most ring on the tree slice dates back to 1844 when the first non-native person recorded seeing Lake Tahoe, John C. Fremont. She added Cook had many felled trees which Curtzwiler walked through to find the perfect one for their intentions. 

The Historical Society created a list of dates to highlight each tree ring with basin factoids which are linked to the society’s website with a QR code on the legend beside the display.

Amanda Adams and Duane Wallace discuss the tree history roadmap in City Hall.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

According to Curtzwiler, after Cook cut the tree into six slabs, Colby Albino of Log Works sanded it down and put on protective coatings.

Four of the six slabs have been committed and are on display within the city in addition to the new addition to City Hall, one for the historical society, one for Holiday Inn Express and one is going to Marriott Grand Residence and Heavenly Village.

Amanda Adams and Duane Wallace reveal history roadmap in City Hall.
Ashleigh Goodwin/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Duane Wallace, South Tahoe Chamber director told the Tribune it’s been a goal of his to bring something like it to the basin after seeing the one that is displayed in Placerville, at the El Dorado County offices. 

“I think it also takes the historical society museum and spreads it around town a little bit,” Wallace said, and added that the slabs are great educational tools and hopes to see one in each elementary school. 

Adams said, “Sierra House has a tree slice as does Magnet school. If someone wants to sponsor the last slice for $1,000 to go to Tahoe Valley School, there would be one at each grammar school.” 

To inquire about sponsorship, email Amanda Adams at or call 530-721-0243.

The South Lake Tahoe History Ring Project

The following dates can be found on the tree piece found inside City Hall at the Lake Tahoe Airport. The numbers on the tree match the historical event below:

  1. 1844 – John C. Fremont is the first non-native person to record seeing Lake Tahoe
  2. 1849 – Gold is discovered in Coloma, 60 miles west of Lake Tahoe
  3. 1856 – John “Snowshoe” Thompson was hired to carry mail from Placerville to Genoa
  4. 1859 – Silver was discovered in Virginia City
  5. 1860 – Pony Express route comes through South Shore, Friday’s Station is built
  6. 1861 – Mark Twain first lays eyes on Lake Tahoe
  7. 1860 thru 1890 – The trees around Lake Tahoe are clear-cut
  8. 1880 – Lucky Baldwin buys a hotel on 2,000 acres, and renames it Tallac House
  9. 1895 – California creates the first state Highway which later became Hwy 50
  10. 1908 – Chris Johnson purchases land at Sierra House for his 500 cattle
  11. 1911 – U.S. Forest Service builds the first ranger station in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  12. 1913 – Road around Emerald Bay built
  13. 1915 – Barton Family settles on land from the Y to the airport
  14. 1927 – The TV was invented
  15. 1928 – Laura Knight builds Vikingsholm
  16. 1931 – Nevada legalizes gambling and two clubs open on South Shore
  17. 1937 – New Meyers Grade over Echo Summit was started but not done until 1947
  18. 1947 – Bijou Skyway Park opens for skiing on South Shore with one 1,000ft rope tow
  19. 1952 – South Tahoe High School is established
  20. 1955 – Heavenly Valley opens with 1 lift and 1 lodge
    21, 1959 – Lake Tahoe Airport becomes 6th airstrip built on South Shore, just in time for the 1960 Olympics
    22, 1960 – Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley (now Palisades Tahoe)
  21. 1965 – City of South Lake Tahoe is incorporated
  22. 1967 – Johnson family heirs donate land for a government center
  23. 1968 – Sierra Ski Ranch opens
  24. 1969 – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is formed to protect Lake Tahoe
  25. 1980 – Harveys Lake Tahoe is bombed
  26. 1993 – The world wide web (www) launches to the public, and the internet is born
  27. 2007 – Angora Fire burns 3,100 acres and destroys 242 homes
  28. 2015 – Bijou Community Park is built 1Type your paragraph here.

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