In Lake Tahoe: A Fragile Beauty, I’ve included Mark Twain’s account of his adventures at Lake Tahoe from his book Roughing It. This offers a singular account of Lake Tahoe in the 1860’s, immediately on the heels of the California Gold Rush and soon after Tahoe began facing the stresses of settler, mining, and lumber interests. When I first came across this tale, I could not help from laughing out loud. With poignancy and humor, Twain captures a mindset that persists to this day. This time we are on the heels of the Internet and real estate bubbles – our modern-day gold rush. Better informed, we understand our impacts and, hopefully, will be better stewards of Lake Tahoe and the land.
For more detail on Twain’s time in Tahoe I suggest David Antonucci’s research, Mark Twain’s Route to Lake Tahoe, published in the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly. Antonucci explores the routes and camp locales Twain would have considered on his journey from Carson City to Lake Tahoe. Aside from this interesting background, we also glimpse the circumstances facing travelers to Lake Tahoe in those early days.
Twain’s unique and entertaining look at Tahoe and the landscape not long after settler contact, offers an insightful counterpoint to Dr. Goldman’s contemporary and studied examination as detailed in the introduction (see earlier post). These two personal accounts offer notable bookends to our modern culture’s encounter with Lake Tahoe.