Gone But Not Forgotten - Weird & Wonderful Things That Don’t Exist In Tahoe Anymore… But Are Still Remembered
By: Alex Silgalis
Let’s be upfront. There’s A LOT to see, do, and love in Lake Tahoe. A veritable Sierra snowstorm of options to choose from any time of year you visit. But like many other places, the region is always evolving and changing. This list is a nod to those places that don’t exist in Tahoe anymore but are remembered fondly.
Harveys Wagon Wheel Casino started as a family run business in 1944 with one room, a six-stool lunch counter, and a few slot machines and blackjack tables. Through hard-work and a booming business model, in 1963 they built the first high rise in Tahoe. The new resort featured 197 rooms, a host of new table games, and a Polynesian restaurant called “Top Of The Wheel.” To get to the restaurant, visitors would take an all-glass elevator, providing views of the surrounding region. The Tiki-themed restaurant was decorated by Eli Hedley. That’s the same artist who designed Tiki shops at Disneyland and a host of other Tiki-themed spots across the country.
Lake Tahoe is home to arguably one of the highest concentrations of ski areas in the country within a 100-mile radius. Can you imagine if there were even more? Well, back in the “heyday” of Mom & Pop ski areas, there were MANY more in Lake Tahoe. In fact, there are at least six defunct ski areas including one on US Highway 50 called Edelweiss. It was located a mile past the town of Twin Bridges and what is now Camp Sacramento. This is where U.S. Ski Team and World Cup racer Spider Sabich and his fearless friends, dubbed “The Highway 50 Boys,” learned to race.
When most people bring up “Olympics and Tahoe”, the first thing that comes to mind is Squaw Valley. Little do they know that in 1968, US SUMMER Olympians based themselves at the top of Echo Summit to train. The reason being that Echo Summit (7,382’ above sea level) closely matched the elevation of Mexico City where the upcoming Olympics would be held. Even though the temporary track no longer exists, the athletes that trained there remember its unique setting and the beauty of Lake Tahoe. Today, these grounds are now one of the most popular sledding destinations in our region called Adventure Mountain. To learn more about this unique track, read the book “A Track in the Forest: The Creation of a Legendary 1968 Olympic Team.”
For those that were fortunate enough to experience one of these places, we hope this brought back fond memories. And for the rest of us, what are the places that are gone but you still have fond memories of? Is it a restaurant? A ski area? Something completely different?