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The Lake of the Sky by George Wharton James

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[Illustration: Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe]





Its History, Indians, Discovery by Fremont, Legendary Lore, Various
Namings, Physical Characteristics, Glacial Phenomena, Geology, Single
Outlet, Automobile Routes, Historic Towns, Early Mining Excitements,
Steamer Ride, Mineral Springs, Mountain and Lake Resorts, Trail and
Camping Out Trips, Summer Residences, Fishing, Hunting, Flowers,
Birds, Animals, Trees, and Chaparral, with a Full Account of the Tahoe
National Forest, the Public Use of the Water of Lake Tahoe and Much
Other Interesting Matter



_Author of_

"Arizona, the Wonderland," "California, Romantic and Beautiful," "New
Mexico, the Land of the Delight Makers," "Utah, the Land of Blossoming
Valleys," "Quit Your Worrying," "Living the Radiant Life," etc.

_With a map, and sixty-five plates, including a folding panorama View_


Copyright, 1915, BY EDITH E. FARNSWORTH

_All Rights Reserved_


(_To his friends "Bob"_)

Fearless Explorer, Expert Mountaineer,
Peerless Guide, Truthful Fisherman,
Humane Hunter, Delightful Raconteur,
True-hearted Gentleman,
Generous Communicator
of a large and varied Knowledge,
Brother to Man
and Beast and Devoted


though younger brother of
the same craft


These Pages are Cordially Dedicated
with the Author's High Esteem
and Affectionate Regards.

[Illustration: "Bob" Watson, Tahoe guide, at home, with his dog
Skookum John]


California is proving itself more and more the wonderland of the
United States. Its hosts of annual visitors are increasing with
marvelous rapidity; its population is growing by accretions from the
other states faster than any other section in the civilized world.
The reasons are not far to seek. They may be summarized in five
words, viz., climate, topography, healthfulness, productiveness and
all-around liveableness. Its climate is already a catch word to the
nations; its healthfulness is attested by the thousands who have
come here sick and almost hopeless and who are now rugged, robust and
happy; its productiveness is demonstrated by the millions of dollars
its citizens annually receive for the thousands of car-loads (one
might almost say train-loads) of oranges, lemons, grape-fruit,
walnuts, almonds, peaches, figs, apricots, onions, potatoes, asparagus
and other fruits of its soil; and its all-around home qualities are
best evidenced by the growth, in two or three decades, of scores of
towns from a merely nominal population to five, ten, twenty, forty or
fifty thousand, and of the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and
Oakland to metropolises, the two former already claiming populations
of half a million or thereabouts.

As far as its topography, its scenic qualities, are concerned, the
world of tourists already has rendered any argument upon that line
unnecessary. It is already beginning to rival Switzerland, though that
Alpine land has crowded populations within a day's journey to draw
from. One has but to name Monterey, the Mt. Shasta region, Los
Angeles, San Diego and Coronado, the Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the Big
Trees, the King and Kern River Divide, Mono Lake and a score of
other scenic regions in California to start tongues to wagging over
interesting reminiscences, whether it be in London, Paris, Berlin,
Madrid or Petrograd.

Books galore are being published to make California's charms better
known, and it has long seemed strange to me that no book has been
published on Lake Tahoe and its surrounding country of mountains,
forests, glacial valleys, lakes and canyons, for I am confident that
in one or two decades from now its circle of admirers and regular
visitors will include people from all over the civilized world, all of
whom will declare that it is incomparable as a lake resort, and that
its infinite variety of charm, delight and healthful allurement can
never adequately be told.

Discovered by the "Pathfinder" Fremont; described in the early days of
California history and literature by John Le Conte, Mark Twain, Thomas
Starr King, Ben C. Truman, and later by John Vance Cheney and others;
for countless centuries the fishing haunt of the peaceable Nevada
_Washoes_, who first called it Tahoe--High or Clear Water--and
of the California _Monos_; the home of many of their interesting
legends and folk-lore tales; occasionally the scene of fierce
conflicts between the defending Indians and those who would drive
them away, it early became the object of the jealous and inconsequent
squabbling of politicians. Its discoverer had named it Mountain Lake,
or Lake Bonpland, the latter name after the traveling and exploring
companion of Baron von Humboldt, whose name is retained in the
Humboldt River of Nevada, but when the first reasonably accurate
survey of its shores was made, John Bigler was the occupant of the
gubernatorial chair of the State of California and it was named after
him. Then, later, for purely political reasons, it was changed to
Tahoe, and finally back to Bigler, which name it still officially
retains, though of the thousands who visit it annually but a very
small proportion have ever heard that such a name was applied to it.

In turn, soon after its discovery, Tahoe became the scene of a mining
excitement that failed to "pan out," the home of vast logging and
lumber operations and the objective point to which several famous
"Knights of the Lash" drove world-noted men and women in swinging
Concord coaches. In summer it is the haunt of Nature's most dainty,
glorious, and alluring picturesqueness; in winter the abode, during
some days, of the Storm King with his cohorts of hosts of clouds,
filled with rain, hail, sleet and snow, of fierce winds, of dread
lightnings, of majestic displays of rudest power. Suddenly, after
having covered peak and slope, meadow and shore, with snow to a depth
of six, eight, ten or more feet, the Storm King retires and Solus
again reigns supreme. And then! ah, then is the time to see Lake Tahoe
and its surrounding country. The placid summer views are exquisite
and soul-stirring, but what of Tahoe now? The days and nights are free
from wind and frost, the sun tempers the cold and every hour is an
exhilaration. The American people have not yet learned, as have the
Europeans in the Alps, the marvelous delights and stimulations of the
winter in such a place as Lake Tahoe. But they will learn in time, and
though a prophet is generally without honor in his own country, I will
assume a role not altogether foreign, and venture the assertion that
I shall live to see the day when winter visitors to Lake Tahoe will
number more than those who will visit it throughout the whole of the
year (1914) in which I write. One of the surprises often expressed
by those I have met here who have wintered in the Alps is that no
provision is made for hotel accommodation during the winter at Lake

To return, however, to the charms of Tahoe that are already known to
many thousands. Within the last two or three decades it has become the
increasingly popular Mecca of the hunter, sportsman, and fisherman;
the natural haunt of the thoughtful and studious lover of God's great
and varied out-of-doors, and, since fashionable hotels were built, the
chosen resort of many thousands of the wealthy, pleasure-loving and
luxurious. What wonder that there should be a growing desire on
the part of the citizens of the United States--and especially of
California and Nevada--together with well-informed travelers from all
parts of the world, for larger knowledge and fuller information about
Lake Tahoe than has hitherto been available.

To meet this laudable desire has been my chief incitement in the
preparation of the following pages, but I should be untrue to my own
devotion to Lake Tahoe, which has extended over a period of more than
thirty years, were I to ignore the influence the Lake's beauty has had
over me, and the urge it has placed within me. Realizing and feeling
these emotions I have constantly asked with Edward Rowland Sill:

What can I for such a world give back again?

And my only answer has been, and is, this:

Could I only hint the beauty--
Some least shadow of the beauty,
Unto men!

In looking over the files of more of less ephemeral literature, as
well as the records of the explorations of early days, I have been
astonished at the rich treasures of scientific and descriptive
literature that have Lake Tahoe as their object. Not the least service
this unpretentious volume will accomplish is the gathering together of
these little-known jewels.

It will be noticed that I have used the word _Sierran_ rather
than _Alpine_ throughout these pages. Why not? Why should the
writer, describing the majestic, the glorious, the sublime of the
later-formed mountain ranges of earth, designate them by a term coined
for another and far-away range?

I would have the reader, however, be careful to pronounce it
accurately. It is not _Sy-eer-an_, but _See-ehr-ran_, almost
as if one were advising another to "See Aaron," the brother of Moses.

Tahoe is not _Teh-o_, nor is it _Tah-ho_, nor _Tah-o_.
The Washoe Indians, from whom we get the name, pronounce it as if it
were one syllable _Tao_, like a Chinese name, the "a" having the
broad sound _ah_ of the Continent.

Likewise _Tallac_ is not pronounced with the accent on the last
syllable (as is generally heard), but _Tal['x]-ac_.

While these niceties of pronunciation are not of vast importance, they
preserve to us the intonations of the original inhabitants, who, as
far as we know, were the first human beings to gaze upon the face of
this ever-glorious and beautiful Lake.

When Mark Twain and Thomas Starr King visited Tahoe it was largely in
its primitive wildness, though logging operations for the securing of
timber for the mines of Virginia City had been going on for some time
and had led to the settlement at Glenbrook (where four great saw mills
were in constant operation so long as weather permitted), and
the stage-road from Placerville to Virginia City demanded
stopping-stations, as Myers, Yanks, Rowlands and Lakeside.

But to-day, while the commercial operations have largely ceased, the
scenic attractions of Lake Tahoe and its region have justified the
erection of over twenty resorts and camps, at least two of them
rivaling in extent and elaborateness of plant any of the gigantic
resort hotels of either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, the others
varying in size and degree, according to the class of patronage they
seek. That these provisions for the entertainment of travelers, yearly
visitors, and health seekers will speedily increase with the years
there can be no doubt, for there is but one Lake Tahoe, and its lovers
will ultimately be legion. Already, also, it has begun to assert
itself as a place of summer residence. Fifteen years ago private
residences on Lake Tahoe might have been enumerated on the fingers of
the two hands; now they number as many hundreds, and the sound of
the hammer and saw is constantly heard, and dainty villas, bungalows,
cottages, and rustic homes are springing up as if by magic.

_Then_ Lake Tahoe was comparatively hard to reach. _Now_,
the trains of the _Southern Pacific_ and the _Lake Tahoe
Railway and Transportation Company_ deposit one on the very edge of
the Lake easier and with less personal exertion than is required to
go to and from any large metropolitan hotel in one city to a similar
hotel in another city.

It is almost inevitable that in such a book as this there should be
some repetition. Just as one sees the same peaks and lakes, shore-line
and trees from different portions of the Lake--though, of course, at
slightly or widely differing angles--so in writing, the attention of
the reader naturally is called again and again to the same scenes. But
this book is written not so much with an eye to its literary quality,
as to afford the visitor to Lake Tahoe--whether contemplative, actual,
or retrospective--a truthful and comprehensive account and description
of the Lake and its surroundings.

It will be observed that in many places I have capitalized the common
noun Lake. Whenever this appears it signifies Lake Tahoe--the chief of
all the lakes of the Sierras.

While it is very delightful to sit on the veranda or in the swinging
seats of the Tavern lawn, or at the choice nooks of all the resorts
from Tahoe City completely around the Lake, it is not possible to
write a book on Lake Tahoe there. One must get out and feel the
bigness of it all; climb its mountains, follow its trout streams;
ride or walk or push one's way through its leafy coverts; dwell in the
shade of its forests; row over its myriad of lakes; study its geology,
before he can know or write about Tahoe.

This is what I have done.

And this is what I desire to urge most earnestly upon my reader. Don't
lounge around the hotels all the time. Get all you want of that kind
of recreation; then "go in" for the more strenuous fun of wandering
and climbing. Go alone or in company, afoot or horseback, only go!
Thus will Tahoe increase the number of its devoted visitants and my
object in writing these pages be accomplished.

[Illustration: Signature]

George Wharton James

TAHOE TAVERN, June 1914.

Captions along top edge of illustration: Angora Peak--Glen
Alpine--Mt. Tallac--Rubicon Peaks--Fallen Leaf Lake]

Captions along top edge of illustration: Mt. Tallac--Rubicon
Peaks--Fallen Leaf Lake--Lake Tahoe]


I Why "the Lake of the Sky"?
II Fremont and the Discovery of Lake Tahoe
III The Indians of Lake Tahoe
IV Indian Legends of the Tahoe Region
V The Various Names of Lake Tahoe
VI John Le Conte's Physical Studies of Lake Tahoe
VII How Lake Tahoe Was Formed
VIII The Glacial History of Lake Tahoe
IX The Lesser Lakes of the Tahoe Region and How They Were Formed
X Donner Lake and Its Tragic History
XI Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River
XII By Rail to Lake Tahoe
XIII The Wishbone Automobile Route to and Around Lake Tahoe
XIV Tahoe Tavern
XV Trail Trips in the Tahoe Region
To Watson's Peak and Lake
To Squaw Valley, Granite Chief Peak, Five Lakes
and Deer Park Springs
To Ellis Peak
XVI Camping Out Trips in the Tahoe Region
To Hell Hole and the Rubicon River
XVII Historic Tahoe Towns
XVIII By Steamer Around Lake Tahoe
XIX Deer Park Springs
XX Rubicon Springs
XXI Emerald Bay and Camp
XXII Al-Tahoe
XXIII Glen Alpine Springs
XXIV Fallen Leaf Lake and Its Resorts
XXV Lakeside Park
XXVI Glenbrook and Marlette Lake
XXVII Carnelian Bay and Tahoe Country Club
XXVIII Fishing in the Lakes of the Tahoe Region
XXIX Hunting at Lake Tahoe
XXX The Flowers of the Tahoe Region
XXXI The Chaparral of the Tahoe Region
XXXII How to Distinguish the Trees of the Tahoe Region
XXXIII The Birds and Animals of the Tahoe Region
XXXIV The Squaw Valley Mining Excitement
XXXV The Fremont Howitzer and Lake Tahoe
XXXVI The Mount Rose Observatory
XXXVII Lake Tahoe in Winter _Written by Dr. J.E. Church, Jr.,
University of Nevada_.
XXXVIII Lake Tahoe as a Summer Residence
XXXIX The Tahoe National Forest
XL Public Use of the Waters of Lake Tahoe


A Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe
B Mark Twain and the Forest Rangers
C Thomas Starr King at Lake Tahoe
D Joseph LeConte at Lake Tahoe
E John Vance Cheney at Lake Tahoe
F The Resorts of Lake Tahoe






Lake Tahoe is the largest lake at its altitude--twenty-three miles
long by thirteen broad, 6225 feet above the level of the sea--with but
one exception in the world. Then, too, it closely resembles the sky
in its pure and perfect color. One often experiences, on looking
down upon it from one of its many surrounding mountains, a feeling of
surprise, as if the sky and earth had somehow been reversed and he was
looking down upon the sky instead of the earth.

And, further, Lake Tahoe so exquisitely mirrors the purity of the sky;
its general atmosphere is so perfect, that one feels it is peculiarly
akin to the sky.

Mark Twain walked to Lake Tahoe in the early sixties, from Carson
City, carrying a couple of blankets and an ax. He suggests that his
readers will find it advantageous to go on horseback. It was a hot
summer day, not calculated to make one of his temperament susceptible
to fine scenic impressions, yet this is what he says:

We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake
burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand
three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by
a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three
thousand feet higher still. It was a vast oval, and one would
have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around
it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly
photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be
the fairest picture the whole earth affords!

And there you have it! Articulate or inarticulate, something like this
is what every one thinks when he first sees Tahoe, and the oftener
he sees it, and the more he knows it the more grand and glorious it
becomes. It is immaterial that there are lakes perched upon higher
mountain shelves, and that one or two of them, at equal or superior
altitudes, are larger in size. Tahoe ranks in the forefront both for
altitude and size, and in beauty and picturesqueness, majesty and
sublimity, there is no mountain body of water on this earth that is
its equal.

Why such superlatives in which world-travelers generally--in fact,
invariably--agree? There must be some reason for it. Nay, there are
many. To thousands the chief charm of Lake Tahoe is in the exquisite,
rare, and astonishing colors of its waters. They are an endless source
of delight to all who see them, no matter how insensible they may be,
ordinarily, to the effect of color. There is no shade of blue or
green that cannot here be found and the absolutely clear and pellucid
quality of the water enhances the beauty and perfection of the tone.

One minister of San Francisco thus speaks of the coloring:

When the day is calm there is a ring around the Lake extending
from a hundred yards to a mile from the shore which is the most
brilliant green; within this ring there is another zone of the
deepest blue, and this gives place to royal purple in the
distance; and the color of the Lake changes from day to day and
from hour to hour. It is never twice the same--sometimes the blue
is lapis lazuli, then it is jade, then it is purple, and when the
breeze gently ruffles the surface it is silvery-gray. The Lake
has as many moods as an April day or a lovely woman. But its
normal appearance is that of a floor of lapis lazuli set with a
ring of emerald.

The depth of the water, varying as it does from a few feet to nearly
or over 2000 feet, together with the peculiarly variable bottom of the
Lake, have much to do with these color effects. The lake bottom on a
clear wind-quiet day can be clearly seen except in the lowest depths.
Here and there are patches of fairly level area, covered either with
rocky bowlders, moss-covered rocks, or vari-colored sands. Then,
suddenly, the eye falls upon a ledge, on the yonder side of which the
water suddenly becomes deep blue. That ledge may denote a submarine
precipice, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand or more feet deep, and
the changes caused by such sudden and awful depths are beyond verbal

Many of the softer color-effects are produced by the light colored
sands that are washed down into the shallower waters by the mountain
streams. These vary considerably, from almost white and cream, to
deep yellow, brown and red. Then the mosses that grow on the massive
bowlders, rounded, square and irregular, of every conceivable size,
that are strewn over the lake bottom, together with the equally varied
rocks of the shore-line, some of them towering hundreds of feet above
the water--these have their share in the general enchantment and
revelry of color.

Emerald Bay and Meek's Bay are justly world-famed for their
triumphs of color glories, for here there seem to be those peculiar
combinations of varied objects, and depths, from the shallowest to the
deepest, with the variations of colored sands and rocks on the bottom,
as well as queer-shaped and colored bowlders lying on the vari-colored
sands, that are not found elsewhere. The waving of the water gives a
mottled effect surpassing the most delicate and richly-shaded marbles
and onyxes. Watered-silks of the most perfect manufacture are but
childish and puerile attempts at reproduction, and finest Turkish
shawls, Bokhara rugs or Arab sheiks' dearest-prized Prayer Carpets are
but glimmering suggestions of what the Master Artist himself has here

There are not the glowing colors of sunrises and sunsets; but they are
equally sublime, awe-inspiring and enchanting. There are Alpine-glows,
and peach-blooms and opalescent fires, gleams and subtle suggestions
that thrill moment by moment, and disappear as soon as seen, only to
be followed by equally beautiful, enchanting and surprising effects,
and with it all, is a mobility, a fluidity, a rippling, flowing,
waving, tossing series of effects that belong only to enchanted
water--water kissed into glory by the sun and moon, lured into softest
beauty by the glamour of the stars, and etheralized by the quiet and
subtle charms of the Milky Way, and of the Suns, Comets and Meteors
that the eye of man has never gazed upon.

There is one especially color-blessed spot. It is in Grecian Bay,
between Rubicon Point and Emerald Bay. Here the shore formation is
wild and irregular, with deep holes, majestic, grand and rugged rocks
and some trees and shrubbery. Near the center of this is a deep hole,
into which one of the mountain streams runs over a light-colored sandy
bottom where the water is quite shallow. Around are vari-colored trees
and shrubs, and these objects and conditions all combine to produce
a mystic revelation of color gradations and harmonies, from emerald
green and jade to the deepest amethystine or ultra-marine. When the
wind slightly stirs the surface and these dancing ripples catch the
sunbeams, one by one, in changeful and irregular measure, the eyes are
dazzled with iridescences and living color-changes covering hundreds
of acres, thousands of them, as exquisite, glorious and dazzling
as revealed in the most perfect peacock's tail-feathers, or
humming-bird's throat. Over such spots one sits in his boat
spell-bound, color-entranced, and the ears of his soul listen to color
music as thrilling, as enchanting as melodies by Foster and Balfe,
minuets by Mozart and Haydn, arias by Handel, nocturnes and serenades
by Chopin and Schumann, overtures by Rossini, massive choruses
and chorals by Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn, fugues by Bach, and
concertos by Beethoven.

The blue alone is enough to impress it forever upon the observant
mind. Its rich, deep, perfect splendor is a constant surprise. One
steps from his hotel, not thinking of the Lake--the blue of it rises
through the trees, over the rocks, _everywhere_, with startling
vividness. Surely never before was so large and wonderful a lake of
inky blue, sapphire blue, ultra-marine, amethystine richness spread
out for man's enjoyment. And while the summer months show this in all
its smooth placidity and quietude, there seems to be a deeper blue,
a richer shade take possession of the waves in the fall, or when its
smoothness is rudely dispelled by the storms of winter and spring.

So much for the color!

Yet there are those who are devoted to Lake Tahoe who seldom speak
of the coloring of its waters. Perhaps they are fascinated by its
fishing. This has become as world-famed as its colors. Thousands,
hundreds of thousands, of the most gamey and delicately-flavored trout
are caught here annually, both by experts and amateurs. The Federal
and State governments, and private individuals yearly stock the main
Lake and the hundred and one smaller lakes of the region with the
finest species of trout obtainable, and the results fully justify the
labor and expense.

To the mountain-lover the Tahoe region is an earthly paradise. One
summer I climbed over twenty peaks, each over nine thousand feet
high, and all gave me glimpses of Tahoe. Some of them went up close to
11,000 feet.

Are you an admirer of Alpine, nay, _High Sierran_, trees? You
will find all the well-known, and several rare and entirely new
species in this region. This field alone could well occupy a student,
or a mere amateur tree-lover a whole summer in rambling, climbing,
collecting and studying.

And as for geology--the Grand Canyon of Arizona has afforded me
nature reading material for nearly three decades and I am delighted
by reading it yet. Still I am free to confess the uplift of these
high-sweeping Sierras, upon whose lofty summits

The high-born, beautiful snow comes down,
Silent and soft as the terrible feet
Of Time on the mosses of ruins;

the great glacial _cirques_, with their stupendous precipices
from which the vast ice-sheets started, which gouged, smoothed,
planed and grooved millions of acres of solid granite into lake-beds,
polished domes and canyon walls and carried along millions of tons of
rock debris to make scores of lateral and terminal moraines; together
with the evidences of uplift, subsidence and volcanic outpouring of
diorite and other molten rocks, afford one as vast and enjoyable a
field for contemplation as any ordinary man can find in the Grand

But why compare them? There is no need to do so. Each is supreme in
its own right; different yet compelling, unlike yet equally engaging.

Then there are the ineffable climate of summer, the sunrises, the
sunsets, the Indians, the flowers, the sweet-singing birds, the
rowing, in winter the snow-shoeing, the camping-out, and, alas! I must
say it--the hunting.

Why man will hunt save for food is beyond me. I deem it that every
living thing has as much right to its life as I have to mine, but I
find I am in a large minority among a certain class that finds at Lake
Tahoe its hunting Mecca. Deer abound, and grouse and quail are quite
common, and in the summer of 1913 I knew of four bears being shot.

Is it necessary to present further claims for Lake Tahoe? Every new
hour finds a new charm, every new day calls for the louder praise,
every added visit only fastens the chains of allurement deeper. For
instance, this is the day of athletic maids, as well as men. We find
them everywhere. Very well! Lake Tahoe is the physical culturist's

In any one of its score of camps he may sleep out of doors, on the
porch, out under the pines, by the side of the Lake or in his tent
or cottage with open doors and windows. At sunrise, or later, in his
bathing suit, or when away from too close neighbors, clothed, as
dear old Walt Whitman puts it, "in the natural and religious idea of
nakedness," the cold waters of the Lake invite him to a healthful and
invigorating plunge, with a stimulating and vivifying swim. A swift
rub down with a crash towel, a rapid donning of rude walking togs and
off, instanter, for a mile climb up one of the trails, a scramble over
a rocky way to some hidden Sierran lake, some sheltered tree nook,
some elevated outlook point, and, after feasting the eyes on the
glories of incomparable and soul-elevating scenes, he returns to camp,
eats a hearty breakfast, with a clear conscience, a vigorous appetite
aided by hunger sauce, guided by the normal instincts of taste, all of
which have been toned up by the morning's exercise--what wonder that
such an one radiates Life and Vim, Energy and Health, Joy and Content.

Do you know what the lure must be when a busy man, an active man,
an alert man, a man saturated with the nervous spirit of American
commercial life, sits down in one of the seats overlooking the Lake,
or spreads out his full length upon the grass, or on the beds of
Sierran moss, which make a deliciously restful cushion, and stays
there! He does nothing; doesn't even look consciously at the blue
waters of the Lake, on the ineffable blue of the sky, or the rich
green of the trees or the glory of the flowers--he simply sits or
sprawls or lies and, though the influence is different, the effect is
the same as that expressed in the old hymn:

My soul would ever stay,
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing itself away,
To everlasting bliss.

There's the idea! Calm, rest, peace, bliss. Those are what you get
at Lake Tahoe. And with them come renewed health, increased vigor,
strengthened courage, new power to go forth and seize the problems
of life, with a surer grasp, a more certain touch, a more clearly and
definitely assured end.

There are some peculiarities of Lake Tahoe that should be noted,
although they are of a very different character from the foolish and
sensational statements that used to be made in the early days of its
history among white men. A serious advertising folder years ago sagely
informed the traveling public as follows: "A strange phenomenon in
connection with the Truckee River is the fact that the Lake from which
it flows (Tahoe) has no inlet, so far as any one knows, and the lake
into which it flows (Pyramid Lake, Nevada), has no outlet."



How utterly absurd this is. Lake Tahoe has upward of a hundred feeders,
among which may be named Glenbrook, the Upper Truckee, Fallen Leaf
Creek, Eagle Creek, Meek's Creek, General Creek, McKinney Creek, Madden
Creek, Blackwood Creek, and Ward Creek, all of these being constant
streams, pouring many thousands of inches of water daily into the Lake
even at the lowest flow, and in the snow-melting and rainy seasons
sending down their floods in great abundance.

To many it is a singular fact that Lake Tahoe never freezes over
in winter. This is owing to its great depth, possibly aided by the
ruffling and consequent disturbance of its surface by the strong
northeasterly winter winds. The vast body of water, with such
tremendous depth, maintains too high a temperature to be affected
by surface reductions in temperature. Experiments show that the
temperature in summer on the surface is 68 degrees Fahr. At 100 feet
55 degrees; at 300 feet 46 degrees; at 1506 feet 39 degrees.

Twenty years ago the thermometer at Lake Tahoe registered 18 degrees
F. _below zero_, and in 1910 it was 10 degrees F. below. Both
these years Emerald Bay froze over. Perhaps the reason for this is
found in the fact that the entrance to the bay is very shallow, and
that this meager depth is subject to change in surface temperature,
becoming warmer in summer and colder in winter. This narrow ridge once
solidly frozen, the warmth of the larger body of water would have no
effect upon the now-confined smaller body of Emerald Bay. Once a firm
hold taken by the ice, it would slowly spread its fingers and aid in
the reduction of the temperature beyond, first producing slush-ice,
and then the more solid crystal ice, until the whole surface would be
frozen solid.

An explanation of the non-freezing of the main Lake has been offered
by several local "authorities" as owing to the presence of a number of
hot springs either in the bed of the Lake or near enough to its shores
materially to affect its temperature. But I know of few or no "facts"
to justify such an explanation.

When I first visited Lake Tahoe over thirty years ago I was seriously
and solemnly informed by several (who evidently believed their own
assertions) that, owing to the great elevation of the Lake, the
density of the water, etc., etc., it was impossible for any one to
swim in Lake Tahoe. I was assured that several who had tried had
had narrow escapes from drowning. While the utter absurdity of the
statements was self-evident I decided I would give myself a practical
demonstration. To be perfectly safe I purchased a clothes-line, then,
hiring a row-boat, went as far away from shore as was desirable,
undressed, tied one end of the rope around the seat, the other around
my body, and--jumped in. I did not sink. Far from it. I was never more
stimulated to swim in my life. My ten or fifteen feet dive took me
into colder water than I had ever experienced before and I felt as
if suddenly, and at one fell swoop, I were flayed alive. Gasping for
breath I made for the boat, climbed in, and in the delicious glow that
came with the reaction decided that it was quite as important to
feel of the temperature of lake water before you leaped, as it was
to render yourself safe from sinking by anchoring yourself to a

But I would not have my reader assume from the recital of this
experience that Lake Tahoe is always too cold for swimming. Such is
not the case. Indeed in June, July, August and September the swimming
is delightful to those who enjoy "the cool, silver shock of the plunge
in a pool's living water," that Browning's _Saul_ so vividly
pictures for us. Hundreds of people--men, women and children--in
these months indulge in the daily luxury, especially in the coves and
beaches where the water is not too deep, and the sun's ardent rays woo
them into comfortable warmth.

After a warm day's tramp or ride over the trails, too, there is
nothing more delicious than a plunge into one of the lakes. A short,
crisp swim, a vigorous rub down, and a resumption of the walk or ride
and one feels _fit_ enough to conquer a world.

It can be imagined, too, what a lively scene the Lake presents in the
height of the season, when, from the scores of hotels, resorts, camps,
private residences, fishermen's camps, etc.; fishing-boats, row-boats,
launches, motor-boats, and yachts ply to and fro in every direction,
unconsciously vying with each other to attract the eye of the
onlooker. The pure blue of the Lake, with its emerald ring and varying
shades of color, added to by the iridescent gleam that possesses the
surface when it is slightly rippled by a gentle breeze, contrasting
with the active, vivid, moving boats of differing sizes, splashed with
every conceivable color by the hats and costumes of the occupants--all
these conspire to demand the eye, to enchain the attention, to
harmlessly hypnotize, as it were, those who sit on the shore and look.

And when is added to this the spontaneous shouts and shrieks of
delight that the feminine "fishermen" give when they are successful
and make a catch, the half-frenzied and altogether delighted
announcements thereof, the whole-hearted or the half-jealous,
half-envious return-congratulations, while now and then the large
steamer, _Tahoe_, or an elegant private yacht, as the Tevis's
_Consuelo_, crosses the scene, one may partially but never fully
conceive the joy and radiant happiness, the satisfaction and content
that Lake Tahoe inspires and produces.

Lake Tahoe covers about 190 square miles, and its watershed is about
500 square miles. The boundary line between Nevada and California
strikes the Lake on the northern border at the 120th meridian, and
a point at that spot is called the State Line Point. The latitude
parallel of this northern entrance is 39 deg. 15". The boundary line goes
due south until about 38 deg. 58" and then strikes off at an oblique angle
to the southeast, making the southern line close to Lakeside Park, a
few miles east of the 120th meridian.



Like so many other great discoveries that were to have an important
effect upon the lives of countless numbers of people, the discovery
of Lake Tahoe was accidental. Nor did its finder comprehend the vast
influence it was to possess, not only upon the residents of California
and Nevada, but upon the travel-loving and sight-seeing portion of the
population of the whole world.

John C. Fremont, popularly acclaimed "the pathfinder," was its
discoverer, on the 14th day of February, 1844. In the journal of his
1843-44 expedition he thus records the first sight of it:

Accompanied by Mr. Preuss, I ascended to-day the highest peak
to the right from which we had a beautiful view of a mountain
lake at our feet, about fifteen miles in length, and so nearly
surrounded by mountains that we could not discover an outlet.

It cannot be deemed out of place in these pages, owing to the
significance of the discovery by Fremont, to give a brief account of
the exploration and its purposes, in the carrying out of which Tahoe
was revealed to the intrepid and distinguished explorer.

Fortunately for us, Fremont left a full story of his experiences in
the Nevada country, complete in detail, and as fresh and vivid as if
but written yesterday. This account, with illuminating Introduction,
and explanatory notes by James U. Smith, from whose pioneer father
Smith Valley is named, was republished in the _Second Biennial
Report of the Nevada Historical Society_, from which, with the
kind permission of the secretary, Professor Jeanne Elizabeth Wier, the
following extracts are made.

Fremont had already made his first exploration of the Rocky Mountains
and South Pass in the summer of 1842. It was in this expedition that,
standing on the highest peak of the Rockies, he looked down into
the vast area beyond, known as the Great Basin, comprising with its
mountain ranges the whole western portion of the continent of North
America. This he determined to explore, and it was on this second
expedition that Lakes Pyramid and Tahoe, the Truckee River, etc., were

Later, Fremont made his third western journey, that in which he
came into conflict with the Mexican officials of California, became
governor of California, and was finally placed under arrest by General
Kearny, and taken back to Washington to be tried for mutiny. The
results of that unfortunate Kearny conflict are well known.

At the official close of the dispute he made his fourth expedition
and finally his fifth, all of which are fully treated in Smucker's and
Bigelow's _Life of Fremont_.

To return now to the second expedition. In the words of Mr. Smith:

The object of the expedition was purely for the purpose of
exploring and otherwise getting scientific information about
the great territory between the Missouri frontier and the
Pacific Ocean. Emigrants were making their way westward to
the new Oregon Territory, and hunters and trappers had been
visiting portions of that region. Farther north the fur
companies had their posts and did a regular business with the
trappers and Indians. But little was known about the regions
further south, and especially the great territory between the
Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountain chains, and that little was
freely adulterated with fiction.

Great Salt Lake was supposed to be a very strange and
wonderful lake, the islands of which were covered with woods
and flowers, through which roamed all kinds of game, and whose
waters were sucked down in a great awe-inspiring whirlpool
into an underground passage under the mountains and valleys
to the distant sea. Another myth, or rather pair of myths, in
which geographers placed sufficient faith to give a place on
the maps of the time, was the great Buenaventura River, and
that semi-tropical Mary's Lake, the waters from which found
their way through the Sierra Nevadas to San Francisco Bay.
Mary's Lake was supposed to be a body of water such as a
traveler dreams about, whose clear waters were bordered by
meadows ever green, a place on whose shores he could pitch his
tent and cast aside all thought or care of the morrow. Fremont
counted on this lake as a place where he could recuperate
and make ready for a final dash eastward across the unknown
country to the Rocky Mountains and thence home to the
Mississippi River. Contrast these anticipations with the
hardships and fears he encountered while groping his way
through the Black Rock Desert, north of Pyramid Lake.

But Fremont was a good leader followed by courageous men, and
disappointments did not make weaklings of either him or his
men. His party, on leaving Missouri, consisted of thirty-nine
men--Creoles, Canadian-Frenchmen, Americans, a German or two,
a free negro and two Indians. Charles Preuss was Fremont's
assistant in topography, and it is likely that he made his
sketches, several of which were published in the original
report. Another member of the party, and one who joined it
in the Rocky Mountains and is of special interest to us, was
Christopher Carson, commonly known as "Kit" Carson. Fremont
speaks of him in very friendly and flattering terms. At the
time of the meeting with Carson, he says: "I had here
the satisfaction to meet our good buffalo hunter of 1842,
Christopher Carson, whose services I considered myself
fortunate to secure again." On another occasion, when Carson
had successfully performed a responsible errand, he says:
"Reaching St. Vrain's Fort ... we found ... my true and
reliable friend, Kit Carson." Fremont left Kansas City, Mo.,
May 29, 1843.

His general route was along the _old_ "Oregon Trail,"
then the _new_ "Oregon Trail," but at many places his
route was different. He followed up the Kansas River instead
of the Platte. But he crossed the Rocky Mountains over the
South Pass, which is that of the Union Pacific Railroad,
and was common to the Oregon Trail and the emigrant road to
California. During nearly the whole journey to Oregon
Fremont divided his party. One part he placed in charge of
Fitzpatrick. This consisted of the carts with the bulk of the
supplies and about half of the men. The other part consisted
of a mounted party with packhorses and the howitzer. Fremont,
of course, took charge of the latter party, for, traveling
light as it did, he was able to make detours covering country
he wished to explore, always, however, using the other train
as a base of supplies. The course of the other party was
generally along the emigrant road to Oregon.

After crossing the Rocky Mountains, Fremont went south with
his party to explore Great Salt Lake. Thence he returned north
again to the emigrant road, which then followed in a general
way the Snake or Lewis River to the Columbia, with the
exception of the great bend in northeastern Oregon which was
traversed by a shorter route. Along the bank of the Columbia
the road followed to the Mission Station at the Dalles,
or great narrows of the river. At this point many of the
emigrants transferred their baggage to barges and floated
with the current to their destination on the Willamette River.
Others continued by land down the river. Fremont's division
reached the Dalles November 4th. Fitzpatrick's train did not
come in until the 21st. The latter left his carts at the mouth
of the Walla Walla River according to Fremont's orders; and,
after making pack-saddles, transferred what was left of his
baggage to the backs of his mules for the trip down to the
Dalles. In the meantime Fremont, with Preuss and two of the
other men, had gone down to Fort Vancouver in canoes. This was
the headquarters of the Hudson Bay Company for the West. Here
supplies for the return journey were obtained.

Having transported these supplies up to the Dalles in barges
propelled by Indians, he was ready to take up the final
preparation for the homeward journey. It is best to let him
describe these preparations in his own words. He says:

"The camp was now occupied in making the necessary
preparations for our homeward journey, which, though homeward,
contemplated a new route, and a great circuit to the south and
southeast, and the exploration of the Great Basin between the
Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

"Three principal objects were indicated, by report, or by
maps, as being on this route, the character or existence of
which I wished to ascertain, and which I assumed as landmarks,
or leading points, on the projected line of return. The first
of these points was the Tlamath Lake, on the tableland between
the head of Fall River (this is now called by its French name,
the Des Chutes River), which comes to the Columbia, and the
Sacramento, which goes to the Bay of San Francisco, and from
which lake a river of the same name makes its way westwardly
direct to the ocean.

"This lake and river are often called Klamet, but I
have chosen to write the name according to the Indian
pronunciation. The position of this lake, on the line of
inland communication between Oregon and California; its
proximity to the demarcation boundary of latitude 42 deg.; its
imputed double character of lake, or meadow, according to
the season of the year; and the hostile and warlike character
attributed to the Indians about it;--all make it a desirable
object to visit and examine. From this lake our course was
intended to be about southeast, to a reported lake called
Mary's, at some days' journey in the Great Basin; and thence,
still on southeast, to the reputed Buenaventura River, which
has a place in so many maps, and countenanced the belief
of the existence of a great river flowing from the Rocky
Mountains to the Bay of San Francisco. From the Buenaventura
the next point was intended to be in that section of the Rocky
Mountains which includes the heads of Arkansas River, and of
the opposite waters of the California Gulf; and thence down
the Arkansas to Bent's Fort, and home.

"This was our projected line of return--a great part of it
absolutely new to geographical, botanical, and geological
science--and the subject of reports in relation to lakes,
rivers, deserts, and savages, hardly above the condition of
mere wild animals, which inflamed desire to know what this
_terra incognita_ really contained. It was a serious
enterprise, at the commencement of winter, to undertake the
traverse of such a region, and with a party consisting only
of twenty-five persons, and they of many nations--American,
French, German, Canadian, Indian, and colored--and most of
them young, several being under twenty-one years of age.

"All knew that a strange country was to be explored, and
dangers and hardships to be encountered; but no one blenched
at the prospect. On the contrary, courage and confidence
animated the whole party. Cheerfulness, readiness,
subordination, prompt obedience, characterized all; nor
did any extremity or peril and privation, to which we were
afterward exposed, ever belie, or derogate from, the fine
spirit of this brave and generous commencement.

"The course of the narrative will show at what point, and for
what reasons, we were prevented from the complete execution
of this plan, after having made considerable progress upon it,
and how we were forced by desert plains and mountain ranges,
and deep snows, far to the south and near to the Pacific
Ocean, and along the western base of the Sierra Nevada; where,
indeed, a new and ample field of exploration opened itself
before us."

From these quotations it is evident that Fremont had no idea of
entering California at this time. He was simply driven to it by
circumstances over which he had no control.

Leaving the Dalles, Fremont followed up the Des Chutes River to its
headwaters in southeastern Oregon, thence he crossed over the divide
to the waters of the Klamath, which he followed southward to what is
known as Klamath Marsh. This he called "Klamath Lake."

Now started the hunt for Mary's Lake and the San Buenaventura River.
The party came down through southeastern Oregon into Nevada, where
they camped on the night of December 26, in Coleman Valley, on what
is called Twelve-Mile Creek, and about eleven miles from the present
California line. It may be noted here that at that time the parallel
between Nevada and California on the south and Oregon on the north,
was the southern boundary of the territory of the United States.
Fremont was, therefore, about to cross into Mexican territory.

He then progressed southward through what are now Washoe, Humboldt,
Churchill and Lyon counties, and over the California line into Mono
County, back again into Douglas, and thence over the mountains south
of Lake Tahoe, but did not find Mary's Lake, nor the places upon which
he relied to recruit his animals and give rest to his party. He did,
however, find Pyramid Lake. This being the body of water into which
the Truckee River flows, and the Truckee being the only outlet to Lake
Tahoe, it is well that this portion of the account be given in full.
Fremont and Carson were on ahead. The day was January 10, 1843.
Fremont writes:

Leaving a signal for the party to encamp, we continued our way
up the hollow, intending to see what lay beyond the mountain.
The hollow was several miles long, forming a good pass (some
maps designate this pass as Fremont Pass, others as San Emidio
Canyon), the snow deepened to about a foot as we neared the
summit. Beyond, a defile between the mountains descended
rapidly about two thousand feet; and, filling up all the lower
space, was a sheet of green water, some twenty miles broad
(Pyramid Lake). It broke upon our eyes like the ocean. The
neighboring peaks rose high above us. One peak, on the eastern
side of the lake, rises nearly forty-four hundred feet above
the lake, and on the side (toward which Fremont was looking)
one peak rises 4925 feet above the lake; and we ascended one
of them to obtain a better view.

The waves were curling in the breeze, and their dark-green color
showed it to be a body of deep water. For a long time we sat
enjoying the view, for we had become fatigued with mountains,
and the free expanse of moving waves was very grateful. It was
set like a gem in the mountains, which, from our position,
seemed to inclose it almost entirely. At the western end it
communicated with the line of basins we had left a few days
since; and on the opposite side it swept a ridge of snowy
mountains, the foot of the great Sierra. Its position at first
inclined us to believe it Mary's Lake, but the rugged mountains
were so entirely discordant with descriptions of its low rushy
shores and open country, that we concluded it some unknown body
of water, which it afterwards proved to be.

On January 13th we followed again a broad Indian trail along
the shore of the lake to the southward. For a short space we
had room enough in the bottom; but, after traveling a
short distance, the water swept the foot of the precipitous
mountains, the peaks of which are about 3000 feet above the
lake. The trail wound around the base of these precipices,
against which the water dashed below, by a way nearly
impracticable for the howitzer. During a greater part of the
morning the lake was nearly hid by a snowstorm, and the waves
broke on the narrow beach in a long line of foaming surf,
five or six feet high. The day was unpleasantly cold, the wind
driving the snow sharp against our faces; and, having advanced
only about twelve miles, we encamped in a bottom formed by a
ravine, covered with good grass, which was fresh and green.

We did not get the howitzer into camp, but were obliged to
leave it on the rocks until morning. The next morning the snow
was rapidly melting under a warm sun. Part of the morning was
occupied in bringing up the gun; and, making only nine miles,
we encamped on the shore, opposite a very remarkable rock in
the lake, which had attracted our attention for many miles.
It rose, according to our estimate, 600 feet above the water,
and, from the point we viewed it, presented a pretty exact
outline of the great pyramid of Cheops. Like other rocks,
along the shore, it seemed to be incrusted with calcareous
cement. This striking feature suggested a name for the lake,
and I called it Pyramid Lake; and though it may be deemed by
some a fanciful resemblance, I can undertake to say that
the future traveler will find much more striking resemblance
between this rock and the pyramids of Egypt
than there is between them and the object from which they take
their name....

The elevation of this lake above the sea is 4890 feet, being
nearly 700 feet higher than the Great Salt Lake, from which
it lies nearly west, and distant about eight degrees of
longitude. The position and elevation of this lake make it an
object of geographical interest. It is the nearest lake to the
western rim, as the Great Salt Lake is to the eastern rim
of the Great Basin which lies between the base of the Rocky
Mountains and the Sierra Nevada--and the extent and character
of which, its whole circumference and contents, it is so
desirable to know.

The Indians then directed him to a river of which he says:

Groves of large cottonwood, which we could see at the mouth,
indicated that it was a stream of considerable size, and, at
all events, we had the pleasure to know that now we were in a
country where human beings could live. Reaching the groves,
we found the inlet of a large fresh-water stream (the Truckee
River), and all at once were satisfied that it was neither
Mary's River nor the waters of the Sacramento, but that we had
discovered a large interior lake, which the Indians informed
us had no outlet. It is about 35 miles long, and, by the mark
of the water-line along the shore, the spring level is about
12 feet above its present waters.

In the meantime, such a salmon-trout feast as is seldom seen
was going on in our camp, and every variety of manner in
which fish could be prepared--boiled, fried and roasted in
the ashes--was put into requisition; and every few minutes an
Indian would be seen running off to spear a fresh one. Whether
these Indians had seen whites before, we could not be certain;
but they were evidently in communication with others who had,
as one of them had some brass buttons, and we noticed several
other articles of civilized manufacture. We could obtain from
them but little information about the country. They made on
the ground a drawing of the river, which they represented as
issuing from another lake in the mountains three or four days
distant, in a direction a little west of south; beyond which,
they drew a mountain; and further still, two rivers; on one of
which they told us that people like ourselves traveled.

They still wandered to the south, passing near where Dayton, Nevada,
now is, and reaching Bridgeport and Mono and Twin Lakes. Here they
struck north and west again and soon had to leave the howitzer.
Passing through Antelope Valley they reached Markleeville in deep
snow, passed Graver's Springs, entered Faith and Hope Valleys, and
here it was Fremont gained his view of Lake Tahoe. It was February 14,
1844. He says:

The dividing ridge of the Sierra is in sight from this
encampment. Accompanied by Mr. Preuss, I ascended to-day the
highest peak to the right [probably Stevens Peak, 10,100 feet
above sea-level], from which we had a beautiful view of a
mountain lake at our feet, about fifteen miles in length, and
so entirely surrounded by mountains that we could not discover
an outlet [Lake Tahoe]. We had taken with us a glass, but
though we enjoyed an extended view, the valley was half
hidden in mist, as when we had seen it before. Snow could
be distinguished on the higher parts of the coast mountains,
eastward, as far as the eye could extend. It ranged over a
terrible mass of broken snowy mountains, fading off blue in
the distance. The rock composing the summit consists of very
coarse, dark, volcanic conglomerate; the lower parts appeared
to be of a slaty structure. The highest trees were a few
scattered cedars and aspens. From the immediate foot of the
peak, we were two hours reaching the summit, and one hour and
a quarter in descending. The day had been very bright, still,
and clear, and spring seemed to be advancing rapidly. While
the sun is in the sky the snow melts rapidly, and gushing
springs cover the face of the mountain in all exposed places,
but their surface freezes instantly with the disappearance of
the sun.

I obtained to-night some observations, and the result from
these, and others made during our stay, gives for the latitude
38 deg. 41' 57", longitude 120 deg. 25' 57" [the correct
longitude for this place is 119 deg. 58'], and rate of the
chronometer 25.82.

The next night they encamped on the headwaters of a little creek,
where at last the water found its way to the Pacific. The following
morning they started early.

The creek acquired a regular breadth of about 20 feet, and we
soon began to hear the rushing of water below the icy surface,
over which we traveled to avoid the snow; a few miles below
we broke through, where the water was several feet deep, and
halted to make a fire and dry our clothes. We continued a few
miles further, walking being very laborious without snowshoes.

I was now perfectly satisfied that we had struck the stream on
which Mr. Sutter lived; and, turning about, made a hard push,
and reached the camp at dark. Here we had the pleasure to find
all the remaining animals, 57 in number, safely arrived at
the grassy hill near camp; and here, also, we were agreeably
surprised with the sight of an abundance of salt. Some of the
horse-guard had gone to a neighboring hut for pine nuts,
and discovered unexpectedly a large cake of very white, fine
grained salt, which the Indians told them they had brought
from the other side of the mountain; they used it to eat with
their pine nuts, and readily sold it for goods.

On the 19th, the people were occupied in making a road and
bringing up the baggage; and, on the afternoon of the next
day, February 20, we encamped, with the animals and all the
_materiel_ of the camp, on the summit of the pass [Carson
Pass, at the head of Hope Valley] in the dividing ridge, 1000
miles by our traveled road from the Dalles to the Columbia.

The people, who had not yet been to this point, climbed the
neighboring peak to enjoy a look at the valley.

The temperature of boiling water gave for the elevation of the
encampment, 9338 feet above the sea.

This was 2000 feet higher than the South Pass in the Rocky
Mountains, and several peaks in view rose several thousand
feet still higher. Thus, at the extremity of the continent,
and near the coast, the phenomenon was seen of a range
of mountains still higher than the great Rocky Mountains
themselves. This extraordinary fact accounts for the Great
Basin, and shows that there must be a system of small lakes
and rivers scattered over a flat country, and which the
extended and lofty range of the Sierra Nevada prevents from
escaping to the Pacific Ocean. Latitude 38 deg. 44', longitude
120 deg. 28'. [This latitude is that of Stevens Peak, the
highest in that ridge, 10,100 feet, and of course he did not
go over the top of that peak, when Carson Pass, 1600 feet
lower, was in plain view; this pass is the lowest one visible
from the route on which they had come; another pass much lower
leads out from the other or northern end of Hope Valley, but
was not visible from their trail. The summit of Carson Pass
is approximately latitude 38 deg. 41' 50"; longitude 119 deg.
59'. Fremont's longitude readings are unreliable, owing to
error in his chronometer.]

From this point on, following the south fork of the American River,
sixteen days from the summit landed Fremont and his party at Sutler's
Fort, March 8. Of their arrival Fremont says:

A more forlorn and pitiable sight than they presented cannot
well be imagined. They were all on foot, each man weak and
emaciated, leading a horse or mule as weak and emaciated
as themselves. They had experienced great difficulty in
descending the mountains, made slippery by rains and melting
snows, and many horses fell over precipices and were killed,
and with some were lost the packs they carried. Among these
was a mule with the plants which we had collected since
leaving Fort Hall, along a line of 2000 miles of travel. Out
of 67 horses and mules, with which we commenced crossing the
Sierra, only 33 reached the valley of the Sacramento, and they
only in a condition to be led along.

In concluding this chapter it should not be overlooked that on his
maps of the expedition of 1843-44 Fremont called the mountain lake he
had discovered "Lake Bonpland." He says in a private letter: "I gave
to the basin river its name of Humboldt and to the mountain lake the
name of his companion traveler, Bonpland, and so put it in the map of
that expedition."

[Illustration: A Washoe Indian _Campoodie_, Near Lakeside Park,
Lake Tahoe]

[Illustration: Washoe indians at Lake Tahoe]

[Illustration: The 'Signal Code' Design]

Amade Bonpland was born at Rochelle, France, in 1773. He was educated
as a physician but became a noted botanist. He accompanied Humboldt
to America, and subsequently became a joint author with the great
traveler and scientist of several valuable works on the botany,
natural-history, etc., of the New World. He was detained as a prisoner
for nearly ten years by Dictator Francia of Paraguay to prevent him
from, or to punish him for, attempting to cultivate the mate, or
Paraguay tea, in that country. He died in 1858 at Montevideo, the
Capital of Uruguay, in South America.

His name as applied to Lake Tahoe is practically unknown, save to the
curious investigator or historian. Other names given by Fremont have
"stuck" to this day, amongst them being Humboldt, Walker, Owen, Kern
and Carson rivers, Pyramid and Walker lakes, etc.

The vicissitudes of the naming of Lake Tahoe is of sufficient interest
to occupy a whole chapter, to which the reader is referred.



Since Lake Tahoe was the natural habitat of one of the most
deliciously edible fishes found in the world, the Indians of the
region were bound, very early in their history here, to settle upon
its shores. These were the Paiutis and the Washoes. The former,
however, ranging further east in Nevada, were always regarded as
interlopers by the latter if they came too near to the Lake, and there
are legends current of several great struggles in which many lives
were lost, where the Washoes battled with the Paiutis to keep them
from this favored locality.

Prior to the coming of the emigrant bands in the early 'forties of the
last century, the only white men the Indians ever saw were occasional
trappers who wandered into the new and strange land. Then, the
beautiful Indian name, soft and limpid as an Indian maiden's eyes, was
_Wasiu_--not the harsh, Anglicized, _Washoe_. Their range
seemed to be from Washoe and Carson valleys on the east in winter, up
to Tahoe and over the Sierras for fishing and hunting in the summer.
They never ventured far westward, as the Monos and other mountain
tribes claimed the mountain regions for their acorns and the game
(deer, etc.), which abounded there.

While in the early days of the settlements of whites upon their lands
the Washoes now and again rose in protest, and a few lives were lost,
in the main they have been a peaceable and inoffensive tribe. The
Paiutis were far more independent and warlike, placing their yoke upon
the weaker tribe. Indeed, when I first talked with the older Washoes
and Paiutis thirty years ago they were full of stories of big wars
between themselves. They showed me rocks near to the present town of
Verdi, on the line of the Southern Pacific, on which their ancestors
had made certain inscriptions which they interpreted as warnings to
the Paiutis not to dare trespass beyond that sign, and the Paiutis had
similar notices inscribed upon bowlders near to their boundary lines.
As a result of one of their fights the Washoes were forbidden the use
of horses, and it is only since the whites have exercised control that
the weaker tribe has dared to disregard this prohibition.

To-day they number in the region of six hundred men, women and
children. On account of their nomadic habits it is impossible to
secure a complete census.

In appearance they are heavy and fat, though now and again a man of
fine, muscular form and good height is found. The women have broad,
shapeless figures and clumsy, deliberate movements. The older they
get the more repulsive and filthy they become. While young some of the
women have pleasing, intelligent and alert faces, while children of
both sexes are attractive and interesting. But with them as with all
aboriginal people who have absorbed the vices and none of the virtues
of the whites, the Washoes are fast losing power, vigor and strength
by disease and dissipation. The smoke of the _campoodie_ fire is
also ruinous to their eyes and ophthalmia is prevalent among them. It
is no uncommon thing to see a man or woman entirely blind.

The old-time methods of clothing have entirely disappeared. When I
first knew them it was not unusual to find an old Indian wrapped in
a blanket made of twisted rabbit-skins, but I doubt if one could be
found to-day. The white man's overalls, blouse and ordinary coat and
vest for the men, with calico in variegated colors for the women, seem
to have completely taken the place of their own primitive dress. A
pair of moccasins, however, now and again, may be found in use at a
dance or on some special occasion.

They still paint and tattoo their faces, hands and wrists, in lines,
triangles and circles. On their bodies also stripes of irregular
design and varying colors are often used, all having a symbolic
meaning originally, now lost, however, at least to all the younger
members of the tribe. Painting the face has a definite and useful
purpose. It softens the skin and prevents the frosts of winter from
cracking it.

Their dwellings are of the rudest character, mere brush shacks in
summer, and in winter, nondescript structures of brush, old boards,
railroad ties, tin cans, barrel-staves, old carpet, canvas, anything
that will sustain a roof and keep out wind, rain and as much of the
cold as possible. Their name for this structure is _campoodie_.
Of course there is no pretense of sanitation, cleanliness or domestic
privacy. The whole family herds together around the smoking fire, thus
early beginning the destruction of their eyesight by the never-ceasing
and irritating smoke.

Their native food consists of fish, the products of the chase, which
include deer, antelope, an occasional bear, rabbits, squirrels and
even coyotes, mountain-lions and wildcats, with acorns, manzanita
berries, currants and the seeds of wild peaches and the various
grasses, together with a large assortment of roots. While they gather
and eat pine nuts, they generally save them for purposes of barter or
sale. Their carrying baskets contain a good wheelbarrow load and are
called _mo-ke-wit_.

They are great gamblers, their chief game being a guessing contest,
where sides are chosen, the fortune of each side depending on its
ability to guess who holds a certain decorated stick. Men and women
alike play the game, though generally the sexes separate and play by
themselves. Quiet chanting or singing often accompanies the game. All
alike smoke the cigarette.

[Illustration: Dat-so-la-le, the artistic Washoe basket maker]

[Illustration: One of Dat-so-la-le's masterpieces, 'Our Hunters'

[Illustration: 'Our Ancestral Hunters' design]

[Illustration: Washoe baskets made by Dat-so-la-le, 'Happy Homes'

Of their religious beliefs little can be said. The fact is their
simple nature-worship and the superstitions connected with it have
been abolished, practically, by their association with the whites, and
we have given them nothing as substitutes. As Mrs. W.W. Price says in
a letter to me:

In several talks with Susan and Jackson, after the death
of Susan's sister, I endeavored to find out some of their
religious beliefs. But these talks were not very satisfactory.
Neither one knew what he did believe. Their old Indian
religion--whatever it may have been--seemed to have passed,
and the religion of the white man had not taken very deep

While Susan felt that she must cut her hair short and burn all
her sister's things and do just so much wailing each day to
drive off the evil spirits (on the occasion of her sister's
death), she took most _comfort_ in doing as "white woman"
do--putting on a black dress.

The most interesting result of my talks with Jackson was the
following ghost story, which he told me to show that Indians
sometimes did live again after death. His grandmother had told
him the story and had heard it herself from the man to whom it
had happened. It is as follows: "An Indian woman died,
leaving a little child and her husband. The latter spent the
accustomed four days and nights watching at her grave without
food or drink. On the fourth night the grave suddenly opened
and the woman stepped out before him. 'Give me my child,' said
she. The man said not a word but went quickly and brought the
little child. The woman did not speak but took the child and
suckled it. Then holding it close in her arms, she began to
walk slowly away. The man followed her, but he did not speak.
On, on they went, through forest and meadow, up hill and down

"By and by the man made a movement as though he would take
hold of her to stop her. But the woman warded him off with a
wave of her hand. 'Touch me not,' she said. 'If you touch me,
you must die too!' She stood and suckled the child once more,
then laid him gently in her husband's arms. 'Go home,' she
said, and faded from his sight.

"Home he went with the child, full of awe and fear.

"A few days afterwards the child died, though there was
nothing the matter with it. The man, however, lived to be very

Jackson was not sure whether he believed this story or not.
But his manner of telling it indicated that it was very real
to him.

Now and again near Tallac one may see one of the dances of the
Washoes. Though war is past with them they still occasionally indulge
in their War Dance and its consequent Scalp Dance. There are not more
than ten or a dozen of the old warriors still living who actually
engaged in warfare in the old days, and these are too old and feeble
to dance. But as the young men sing and throw their arms and limbs
about in the growing frenzy of the arousing dance, and the tom-tom
throbs its stimulating beat through the air, these old men's eyes
flash, and their quavering voices become steady and strong in the
excitement, and they live in the conflicts of the past.

Another of the dances that is still kept up is the Puberty Dance.
Many white people have seen this, but not having any clew to its
significance, it seemed absurd and frivolous. When a girl enters the
door of young womanhood the Washoe idea is to make this an occasion
for developing wiriness, strength, and vigor. Contrary to the method
of the white race, she is made, for four consecutive days, to exert
herself to the utmost. She must walk and climb mountains, ride and
run, and when night comes on the fourth day, she and her mother, and
as many of the tribe as are available, begin to dance at sunset and
keep it up all night. The girl herself is designated by a long and
slim pole which she carries in her hand, and which towers above her
head. By her side stands her mother. The leader of the dance begins a
song, a simple, rhythmic, weird chant, the words of which are archaic
and have no significance to the Indians of to-day, but merely give
syllables to hang the tune upon. As the leader sings he slowly moves
his legs in a kind of oblique walk. The young men take his hand
and follow. The women unite, and a rude circle is made, generally,
however, open, at the place where the dance-leader stands. After once
or twice around, the leader moves first one foot, then the other,
sideways, at the same time jogging his body up and down in fairly
rapid movement, in perfect time to his song. In a few moments all are
bobbing up and down, with the onward side-shuffling movement, and the
real dance is on. This continues according to the will of the leader.
When his voice gives a sudden drawling drop that dance ends. There are
a few minutes for relaxation and breath, and then he lines out a
new song, with new syllables, and a new dance begins. This continues
practically all night, the dance-leader showing his memory power or
his composing genius by the number of new songs he introduces. I have
counted as many as thirty to forty different tunes on one occasion.

Just at sunrise the mother of the girl fetches one or two buckets of
cold water, while the maiden undresses. The water is suddenly dashed
over her "to make her vigorous and strong," and the dance comes to an

This rude and rough treatment, in the early days, was made to have all
the potency and sanctity of a religious rite. The reason for it was
clear. The Washoes were surrounded by people with whom they were
often at war. Indian warfare takes no cognizance of sex or its special
disabilities. In order that their women should not be regarded as
_hors de combat_, or enfeebled, at such times and thus hamper the
movement of the tribe in case a sudden flight was needed, the shamans
or medicine men taught that strength, activity and vigor were just as
possible at that time as any other. "Those Above" commanded that it
be so. Hence all the sanctity and seriousness of a religious rite was
thrown around these dances, and though the Indians of to-day have
lost many of their old customs, this is one that is still rigorously

Another singular custom that still obtains is where, after the birth
of a first child, the _husband_ and _father_ is required to
fast and work arduously from the day of the birth until the child's
navel shrivels off. This is to make him strong and vigorous, so
that he may be able to give as much strength to his second and later
children as he did to the first.

As soon as a girl matures she is marriageable. Several and simple are
the ways in which a Washoe youth shows his preference and desire
for marriage. Equally simple are the girl's signs of acceptance or
rejection. There is no ceremony as the White Race understands that
term, though to the Indian there is everything that is necessary to
make the rite as binding as it is to his white brother and sister.

Though polygamy has always been practiced, the custom to-day limits
the wives to two, and only a few men have more than one wife. Where
plural wives are taken they are generally sisters. There is little
intermarriage among other tribes. Though it occasionally occurs it is
fiercely frowned upon and all parties are made to feel uncomfortable.

Prostitution with the whites and Chinese is not uncommon, and children
born of such relationship have just as good a standing as those born
in wedlock. The Indian sees no sense in punishing an innocent child
for what it is in no way responsible for. He frankly argues that only
a silly fool of a white man or woman would do so cruel and idiotic a

Children are invariably welcomed and made much of at birth, though it
is seldom a Washoe woman has more than four or five babies. They are
always nursed by the mother, and not often weaned until they are four
or five years old.

In the early days the labor of the sexes was clearly defined. The man
was the hunter and the warrior, the guardian of the family. The
woman was the gatherer of the seeds, the preparer of the food, the
care-taker of the children. To-day there is not much difference in the
division of labor. The breaking down of all the old customs by contact
with the whites has made men and women alike indifferent to what work
they do so that the family larder and purse are replenished thereby.

In the early days the Washoes were expert hunters of bear and deer.
They used to cross over into the mountains of California for
this purpose, and the women would accompany them. A camp would be
established just below the snow line, and while the men and youths
went out hunting the women gathered acorns. My informant, an old
Indian, was a lad of eighteen at the time of which he spoke. In effect
he said: "One day while I was out I found the tracks of a bear which
I followed to a cave. Then I went to camp. But we Indians are not
like you white men. You would have rushed in and shouted to everybody,
'I've found a bear's track!' Instead I waited until night and when all
the squaws had gone to bed I leisurely told the men who were chatting
around the camp fire. They wished to know if I knew where the cave
was, and of course I assured them I could go directly to it. The next
morning early my uncle quietly aroused me, saying, 'Let's go and get
that bear.' I was scared but had to go. When we arrived he took some
pieces of pitch-pine from his pocket, and lighting them, gave me one,
and told me to stand at the mouth of the cave ready to shoot the
bear, while he went in and drove it out. I didn't like the idea, but I
daren't confess my cowardice, for he at once went in. In a few moments
I heard terrific growlings and roarings and then the bear rushed out.
I banged away and he fell, and I was proud to tell my uncle, when he
came out, that I had killed the bear. 'No, you didn't,' said he; 'your
shots all went wild. Here's the shot that killed him,' and sure enough
it was a shot of a different size from that of my gun."

"Another time when I found a bear in a cave he said, 'You must go in
this time and drive out the bear.' I was sure I couldn't do it, but he
insisted, and thrusting the lighted sticks into my hands bade me crawl
in, keeping my eyes fixed the while, as soon as I saw them, upon those
of the bear. I was to keep my back to the wall, and when I got well
in, was to dash the light behind the bear and give a yell. I crawled
in all right and soon got to where I could just about stand up, but
when I saw the bear and he began to growl I was scared and backed out
pretty quick and said I didn't have light enough. My uncle grabbed the
sticks from me, called me a coward, rushed in, and as the bear dashed
out shot and killed it."

It is generally thought that Indians are good shots, but the testimony
of the hunters of the Tahoe region is that the Washoes are very
poor shots. One hunter tells me he has seen an Indian take as fine
a standing shot as one need desire, again and again, and miss every
time. On one occasion he was hunting deer with an Indian. The latter
had gone up a steep slope, when, suddenly, he began to fire, and kept
it up until fourteen shots were fired. Said he: "I was sure he must
have a bunch of deer and was making a big killing, and hurried up to
his side. When I got there I found he had sent all those shot after
one buck, and had succeeded only in breaking its leg. With one shot
I killed the wounded animal, went up to it and was about to cut its
throat, when he begged me not to do so, asserting that if I cut the
deer's throat that way I should never get a standing shot again, the
deer would always be able to smell me."

This is a quaint superstition. The Indians believe that though the
particular deer be slain it has the power of communicating with living
deer and informing them of the peculiar "smell" of the hunter. Hence,
as in the olden days they had no guns, only bows and arrows, and were
compelled to creep up much nearer to their prey than is needful with
a gun, anything that seemed to add to the deer's power of scenting the
hunter must studiously be avoided.

And, although the gun had rendered the old methods of hunting
unnecessary, this particular precaution still persisted and had all
the force of established custom.

My friend then continued: "Another superstition I found out as I
cleaned this deer. I cut out the paunch, the heart and the liver and
offered them to the Indian. He refused them, saying it was food fit
only for women, children and old men. If he were to eat them he would
never have luck in hunting again."

This superstition is common with many Indian tribes. It is based upon
the idea that one becomes like that which he eats. If one eats the
heart of a mountain-lion or bear he becomes daring and courageous.
But to eat the heart of the timid deer is to make oneself timorous and

As soon after puberty as possible a boy is taken out by his father
or uncle on a hunt. Prior to that time he is not allowed to go. But
before he can eat of the product of the chase he must himself kill a
deer with large enough horns to allow him to crawl through them.

A friend of mine was out with a Washoe Indian whose boy was along
on his first hunting expedition. They hunted a deer for nearly three
days, but as soon as they found tracks the father, after studying them
awhile, said: "This a little fellow. No good. He not big enough"--thus
signifying to his son that his horns were not large enough to allow
him to crawl through, hence it was no use following the animal

The Indian is quite sure that deer can smell him and know when he
is on the hunt. He becomes skillful in detecting and following their
tracks, and knows just how to circle around their hiding-place and
suddenly walk in upon them. My friend, referred to above, who is a
great hunter, was once out with a Washoe. They had had three "bad"
days, when suddenly they found a deer's track. It was fresh, but when
they came to the hole where he had lain down to rest, though the place
was quite warm, the deer had gone. The Indian at once exclaimed: "That
deer smell me. I must get rid of the Indian smell." Accordingly he
scooped out a hole in the ground, heated a number of rocks in it,
then, spreading fir boughs over them, lay down over the rocks and
took a "fir-sweat" for fully ten to fifteen minutes. As he arose he
exclaimed: "Deer no smell me to-morrow," and my friend said he did no
longer smell like an Indian, but like burnt fir wood.

Turning to the Indian, however, he said: "You're all right, but how
about me?" to which the reply instantly came: "You all right. Deer
only smell Indian. He not smell white man."

Chief among the women's work is the making of baskets. The best
Washoe basket makers are not surpassed by any weavers in the world.
At Tallac, Fallen Leaf, Glen Alpine and several other resorts
basket-makers may be found, preparing their splints, weaving or trying
to sell their baskets.

Not far from Tahoe Tavern, about a quarter a mile away in the
direction of Tahoe City, is the little curio store of A. Cohn, whose
headquarters are in Carson City, the capital of the State of Nevada.
Mr. and Mrs. Cohn hold a unique position in their particular field.
Some twenty-five years ago they purchased a beautiful basket from a
Washoe Indian woman, named _Dat-so-la-le_ in Washoe, or Luisa
Keyser in American, for she was the wife of Charley Keyser, a general
roustabout Indian, well known to the citizens of Carson. Luisa was a
large, heavy, more than buxom--literally a fat,--ungainly squaw. But
her fingers were under the perfect control of a remarkably artistic
brain. She was not merely an artist but a genius. She saw exquisite
baskets in her dreams, and had the patience, persistence and
determination to keep on weaving until she was able to reproduce them
in actuality. She also was possessed by an indomitable resolution to
be the maker of the finest baskets of the Washoe tribe. While she was
still a young woman she gained the goal of her ambition, and it was
just about this time that she offered one of her baskets to Mr. Cohn.
He saw it was an excellent basket, that the shape was perfect, the
color-harmony superior to any he had seen before, the stitch small,
fine, and even, the weave generally perfect, the design original and
worked out with artistic ability. He saw all this, yet, because it
was Indian work, and the woman was a rude, coarse mountain of flesh,
a feminine Falstaff, of a lower order of beings and without Falstaff's
geniality and wit, he passed the basket by as merely worth a dollar
or two extra, and placed it side by side with the work of other
Washoe and Paiuti squaws. A Salt Lake dealer came into the store soon
thereafter and saw this basket. "How much?" he asked. The price was
given--rather high thought Mr. Cohn--. "Twenty-five dollars!" "I'll
take it!" came the speedy response.

A month or two later Cohn received a photograph from the purchaser,
accompanied by a letter. "You know the basket, herewith photographed,
which I purchased from you. Have you any more by the same weaver, or
of as good a weave? If so, how many, and at what price? Wire reply at
my expense."

Then Mr. Cohn awoke, and he's been awake ever since. He wired his
list of Dat-so-la-le's baskets, but he has had no reply, and that was
twenty-five years ago. He then made arrangements with Dat-so-la-le
and her husband. He provides them house, food, clothing and a certain
amount of cash yearly, and he takes all the work Luisa makes. Every
basket as soon as begun is noted as carefully as every breeding of a
thoroughbred horse or dog. Also the date the basket is finished. It
is then numbered and photographed and either offered for sale at a
certain price, which is never changed, or is put in the safety-deposit
vault of the bank, to await the time when such aboriginal masterpieces
will be eagerly sought after by the growingly intelligent and
appreciative of our citizens, for their museums or collections, as
specimens of work of a people--the first American families--who will
then, possibly, have passed away. The photographs, here reproduced,
are of some of Dat-so-la-le's finest work.

[Illustration: Susie, the Washoe indian basket maker, and narrator
of indian legends]

[Illustration: Jackson, the Washoe indian, telling traditions of
his people about Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake]

[Illustration: Lake Tahoe near Tahoe Tavern, looking south]



As all students of the Indian are well aware these aboriginal and
out-of-door dwellers in the forests, canyons, mountains, valleys, and
on lake and seashores are great observers of Nature, and her many
and varied phenomena. He who deems the Indian dull, stolid and
unimpressionable, simply because in the presence of the White Race he
is reserved and taciturn, little knows the observing and reflecting
power hidden behind so self-restrained a demeanor. Wherever natural
objects, therefore, are of a peculiar, striking, unusual, unique,
or superior character, it is reasonable to assume that the Indians,
living within sight of them, should possess myths, legends, folk-lore,
creation-stories or the like in connection with their creation,
preservation, or present-day existence. This is found exemplified
in the legends of Havasupais, Hopis, Navajos and Wallapais as to
the origin of the Grand Canyon of Arizona, of the Yohamities, Monos,
Chuc-Chances, and others, of the distinctive features of the Yosemite
Valley, the Hetch-Hetchy, etc.

While the present-day, half-educated, half-civilized Washoes are by no
means representatives of the highest elements of natural enlightenment
among the Indian race, they do possess legends about Tahoe, the
following being the most interesting.

All these stories, except the last, were gathered by Mrs. W.W.
Price of Fallen Leaf Lodge, from Indians with whom she has been very
familiar for several years, named Jackson and his wife Susan. There
has been no attempt to dress them up in literary fashion. They are
given as near to the Indians' mode of telling as possible. They are
wonderfully different from certain stories recently published in
current magazines, professing to be Legends of Lake Tahoe. These
latter are pure fiction, and to those familiar with Indian thought,
reveal their origin in the imaginative brain of white writers who have
but faint conceptions of Indian mentality. Mrs. Price is a graduate
of Stanford University, and took great pains to preserve the Indians'
exact mode of expression. As she herself writes:

Long before the white man saw and wondered over the beauty of
Tahoe, theorizing over its origin and concocting curious tales
about its "unfathomable" depths, the Indians knew and loved
it. And as among all other peoples, legends have grown up to
account for every phenomenon of Nature, so among the Washoe
Indians stories about Tahoe have been handed down from
generation to generation.

I do not vouch for these legends. The modern Indian too often
tells what he thinks you want to know,--if only you will cross
his hand with silver. But there are touches here and there
that make me feel that for the most part they are remnants of
very old legends.


Long, long ago, before the white man came to Nevada, there
lived in the meadow over beyond Glenbrook a good Indian. But
though he was good, he was much annoyed by the Evil Spirit,
who constantly interfered with all that he tried to do.
Finally, he determined that he must move away and get over
into the valleys of California. But when he tried to escape,
the Evil One was always there ready to trip him in some way or

In his trouble the Good Spirit came to his aid, giving him a
leafy branch which had certain magic qualities. He was
to start on his journey. If he saw the Evil One coming he was
to drop a bit of the branch and water would immediately
spring up. The Evil One could not cross water, and thus, being
delayed by going around, would give the Indian time to escape.

The Indian made his way well along to where Tallac Hotel
now is, when, looking back, he saw the Evil One off in the
distance approaching with such strides that his heart was
filled with great fear. In his terror he tried to pluck a leaf
but it snapped off and he dropped almost his whole branch.
To his delight and relief the waters began to rise and soon
"Tahoe"--_Big Water_--lay between him and his enemy.

Free-heartedly he hurried on his way up the canyon, but when
he reached the spot where the head of Fallen Leaf Lake lies,
he turned to reassure himself. Away off the Evil One was
advancing. A new terror filled his soul. In his hand there
remained of his magic branch only one little twig with a
single leaf on it.

Plucking the leaf, he threw it down and watched it fall
waveringly through the air. As it touched earth the
waters again began to rise and "Doolagoga"--_Fallen
Leaf_--sprang into being and on its surface floated the
little leaf, as many leaves now float in the fall of the year.

Turning, he sped up the ravine, dropping bits of his twig as
fear directed him, and in his path, Lily, Grass, and Heather
lakes came up to guard his way.

At last he was over the crest of the mountain and found
himself safe in the long-wished-for Valley of California.


Once long ago in Paiuti-land, Nevada, there lived two
brothers. The older was a hunter and brought home much game.
His wife, whose name was Duck, used to cook this for him, but
she was very stingy to the younger brother, and often times he
was hungry. When he begged her for food, she scolded him and
drove him out of the _campoodie_, saying, "Got none for

One day when the older brother was off hunting Duck was
cleaning some fish. She had been very cross to Little
Brother, refusing to give him any food, and he was terribly
hungry. Presently he came creeping up behind her and when he
saw all the fish he became very angry. He took up a big club
and before Duck could turn around he hit her on the head and
killed her. Paying no attention to her dead body he cooked and
ate all the fish he wanted and then lay down in the sunshine
on a big rock and went fast asleep.

By and by his Hunter Brother came home. Of course when he
found his wife dead, he was filled with great anger at his
young brother, though his anger was lessened when he thought
of his wife's cruelty. He shook him very roughly and said, "I
no like you any more! I go away. Leave you alone!" But Little
Brother begged, "Don't be angry! Don't be angry! Let's go far
away! I help you all the time! Don't be angry!"

Gradually he persuaded the Hunter Brother to forgive him and
they started off together toward the "Big Water"--_Lake
Tahoe_. On the way the Hunter Brother taught the Little
Brother how to shoot with a bow and arrow. By the time they
reached the spot now known as Lakeside both their belts were
filled with squirrels that they had shot.

At dusk they built a good fire and when there were plenty of
glowing coals, Hunter Brother dug a long hole, and filling it
with embers, laid the squirrels in a row on the coals covering
them all up with earth.

He was tired and lay down by the fire to rest till the
squirrels should be cooked. With his head resting on his arms,
the warmth of the fire soothing him, he soon fell fast, fast

Little Brother sat by the fire and as the night grew darker,
he grew hungrier and hungrier. He tried to waken his brother,
but the latter seemed almost like one dead and he could
not rouse him. At last he made up his mind he would eat by
himself. Going to the improvised oven, he began to dig up
the squirrels, counting them as they came to light. One was
missing. Little Brother was troubled.

"How that? My brother had so many, I had so many!"--counting
on his fingers--"One gone!" And he forgot how hungry he was as
he dug for the missing squirrel.

All at once he came upon a bigger hole adjoining the cooking
hole. While he stood wondering what to do, out popped a great
big spider.

"I'll catch you!" cried the spider.

"No, you won't!" said the boy, and up he jumped and away he
ran, followed by the spider. They raced over stock and stone,
dodging about trees and stumbling over fallen logs for a long
time. At last Little Brother could run no more. The spider
grabbed him and carried him back to his hole, where he killed

It was almost daybreak when Hunter Brother awoke. He called
his brother to bring more wood, for the fire was almost out.
Getting no answer he went to look at the cooking squirrels.

Greatly surprised to see them lying there all uncovered,
he, too, counted them. Discovering one gone, he thought his
brother must have eaten it and was about to eat one himself
when he saw the old spider stick his head out of the hole.
Each made a spring, but the Hunter Brother was the quicker and
killed the wicked spider with his knife.

Carefully he now went into the spider's hole. There, stretched
out on the ground, lay Little Brother _dead_! Taking
him up in his arms, he carried him outside. Now this Hunter
Brother was a _medicine-man_ of great power, so he lay
down with Little Brother and breathed into his mouth and in a
few minutes he came back to life and was all right.[1]

The Hunter Brother was very happy to have his Little Brother
alive again. He built up the fire and while they sat eating
their long-delayed meal Little Brother told all that had
happened to him.

[Footnote 1: Susan who was telling this story offered no reason why
he had not restored Duck, his own wife, to life.]

The sun was quite above the horizon before the meal was
finished, and soon Hunter Brother was anxious to be moving on,
so they took their way along the lake shore. On their way they
talked and laughed one with another and seemed to agree very
well, until they had gone around the lake and
reached where Tahoe City now is. Here they quarreled and the
Hunter Brother left Little Brother to return and go up the Big
Mountain--_Tallac_--where he had heard there were many
squirrels. After his departure, Little Brother decided to
follow him and get him to make friends again. So he trudged
along the lake shore until he came to Emerald Bay.

There lying on the log at the edge of the lake, lay a
water-baby. It was asleep with its head resting on its arms
and its beautiful, sunshine-golden-hair was spread over it.

"Oh," said Little Brother, "I'll get that beautiful
sun-shine-hair as a present for my brother!" So he crept very
softly down on the log, thinking to kill the water-baby before
it awoke. But he was not successful in this, for the creature
opened its eyes as he laid his hand on its hair, and a furious
fight ensued. Sometimes it seemed as though Little Brother
would be killed, but finally he was able to scalp the
poor water-baby and get possession of the beautiful
sunshine-golden-hair. Every one can see where this fight
occurred. The red hill near Emerald Bay stands as a memorial
of the struggle, for its color is caused by the blood of the
slain water-baby.

Tucking his prize in his hunting shirt and hugging it close,
Little Brother now went on, murmuring to himself, "Oh,
my brother like this, my brother like this beautiful

But suddenly, as he was climbing upward, he noticed the water
lapping at his heels, and when he turned to see whence it
came, he found that the big lake behind him was rapidly
rising, and even as he stood wondering, it arose above his

Then he remembered what he had heard of revengeful
water-babies, but frightened though he was, he could not
bear to throw away his prize. However, he knew he must do
something, so he plucked out a few hairs from the scalp and
threw them into the ascending waves. For a minute the water
ceased to rise and he sped onward, but before long he felt the
water at his heels again, and knew that once more he must
gain a short respite by throwing out a few of the
And ever and again he had to do this until at last he spied
his brother ahead of him. "Ah, brother," he cried, drawing the
scalp from his blouse, "see what a beautiful present I have
for you!"

But when his brother turned toward him he saw only the angry,
rising waters, and rushing forward he snatched the beautiful
sunshine-golden-hair and cast it back into the waters, crying,
"How you dare meddle with water-babies? Don't you know water
surely come up and get you?"

And poor Little Brother felt very sad; but the danger he
had been in seemed to have endeared him once more to Hunter
Brother and they stood arm-in-arm and watched the waters

But there were hollows in the land and when the waters went
back they held the water and so were formed that chain of
lakes on the other side of Tallac and Emerald Bay, the Velmas,
Kalmia, Cascade, and others.

The rest of the story is confused and full of repetitions.
The gist of it is that Little Brother was ever getting into
trouble from which Hunter Brother had to rescue him, for which
Little Brother was most grateful and would go off seeking for
a present to give to the Big Brother who was so kind to him.

Once he got a young bear cub. He thought it was a dog. He
petted it and brought it to his brother as a hunting-dog.

Finally, after Hunter Brother had made a first-class hunter
of Little Brother so that he could use his bow and arrows with
great success, they went down toward the Sacramento Valley
hunting deer. They followed a fine buck over hill and dale but
could not get a good shot at him. At last worn out by running
and suffering greatly, the Little Brother lay down and died.
When his brother found him, he did not attempt to bring him to
life again but buried him under a pile of rocks and leaves.


Once upon a time there was an old Indian who lived over in
Hope Valley with his two grand-daughters. He was a mean old
man. He made the girls work very hard all day
long. They had to gather wild grass seeds and acorns and grind
them into flour all the time. The old man caught plenty of
fish and frogs which he took off for his own eating, but he
gave the girls none.

One day he came in with a woodchuck skin and told the girls
to fill it with wild wheat flour. He did not tell them what
he wanted it for. When the skin was full he left the
_campoodie_ without a word as to where he was going. But
the bag leaked and a little stream of flour trickled out and
marked his path. He went away off to a lake where he caught
plenty of fish and frogs on which he feasted until he could
eat no more. Then he lay down by his fire and was soon fast

Meanwhile in the _campoodie_ the two girls were talking
about the old man's meanness. "He makes us work so hard and we
never have any fish to eat. He keeps it all himself," said the
older girl.

"I wonder where he's gone now?" said the younger one, going to
the door-way and looking out. Suddenly she noticed the little

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