Soak in history of Lake Tahoe from the water |

Soak in history of Lake Tahoe from the water

Elaine Goodman

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Docked at the Thunderbird Lodge, Chris Larson, captain of the Tahoe, stands on the bow of the classic wooden cruiser.

Much of Lake Tahoe’s history – both natural and human-driven – has taken place along the shore. So what better place to appreciate the area’s history than from the water?

A group of 16 people did just that Aug. 20 aboard a classic wooden high-speed cruiser called the Tahoe. Captains Douglas Knapp and Chris Larson of Woodwind Cruises took the group, which included two Tribune staffers, on a tour of Lake Tahoe’s south and east shores, starting at the Tahoe Keys Marina and ending at the Thunderbird Lodge.

Along the way, they noted various points of interest, including:

— The former homes of arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schultz.

— The Lady of the Lake, what appears to be a woman’s profile in the rock jutting out from Cave Rock. Legend has it that the lady is gazing across the lake to Mount Tallac, looking for a sign that her lover will return.

— The Liberty Bell scar, a natural formation on one of the mountain sides ringing the lake that is shaped like a bell.

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— A now-peaceful portion of shoreline that once was the site of a bustling lumber business.

All that was a lead-up to the tour’s main attraction: the Thunderbird Lodge, former home of millionaire real-estate magnate George Whittell Jr. The tour group took in the arts-and-crafts style architecture, walked down the estate’s 600-foot tunnel to the boathouse and admired Whittell’s yacht, also named the Thunderbird. Knapp explained how Whittell would invite people to his card room to gamble – and then escaped from the group when he grew tired by excusing himself to the restroom, which was connected to the tunnel back to the main lodge.

The tour, which lasted about five hours, also included breakfast and lunch aboard the Tahoe.

The Tahoe first was launched in 1950 and originally was owned by E.B. Scott, author of the historical book “The Saga of Lake Tahoe.” It fell into disrepair for many years but was refurbished by current owner Steve Dunham.

“I restored this boat really specifically for this tour,” Dunham said.

Lucille Anderson of Auburn, who took the tour with her husband, Jim, said she appreciated the historical perspective the trip provided.

The tour made her realize that Lake Tahoe’s beauty and magical qualities have been attracting people to the lake since the days the area was inhabited by Indian tribes.

“They did a great job,” Anderson said of the tour organizers. “I would recommend it to anyone.”