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The Origins Of Lake Tahoe’s Most Popular Places

As soon as you step outside in Lake Tahoe and start looking at all your surroundings, many of us stop and wonder what a particular place, mountain, lake or region is called. Some are obvious, like Lake Tahoe. But others not so much like a specific peak or meadow perhaps. Many of the popular landmarks have historical beginnings that are fun to learn about. Let's delve into the origins for several of Lake Tahoe’s most interesting ones.

Zephyr Cove

Zephyr Cove Nevada

Zephyr Cove Nevada | Photo: Tahoe Public Beaches

Zephyr Cove’s name is fitting from a meteorological perspective. Named after Zephyrus, the Greek God of the west wind, the eastern shore of the Lake is famously known for its strong west winds in the summer. This is due to the massive temperature gradient between the foothills of Nevada and the Lake Tahoe Basin. In fact, both Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille wrote about the “Washoe Zephyr” and just how fierce they were.

Fannette Island

Fannette Island in Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe

Fannette Island in Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe

The only island in Lake Tahoe, this piece of land within Emerald Bay has been called many different names, including Coquette, Baranoff, Dead Man's, Hermit's, Emerald Isle, and now Fannette. The first one that stuck was Coquette, conceived by a group of young vacationers back in 1866. Coquette is a word referring to a flirtatious or seductive woman. Attracted to the island’s beauty, the group found the climb to the top of the small island impossible. The island’s current name is thought to be a misinterpretation of the island’s original name Coquette.

Camp Richardson

Historic Camp Richardson Resort Lake Tahoe

Camp Richardson at Lake Tahoe | Photo: Tahoe Public Beaches

Strolling through the historic Camp Richardson, there’s a lot of history in this area all thanks to Ray Kinsley who was determined not to allow the area to become over-commercialized. He approached the USFS to take over the entire recreational area from Baldwin Beach and Taylor Creek through Camp Richardson to Pope Beach. This special place is named after Captain Alonzo L Richardson. Captain Richardson leased a large parcel from the Comstock and Lawrence families, setting up a stage service from Placerville to South Lake Tahoe back in 1921. He was also the first postmaster in this area.

Maggie’s Peaks

Maggie's Peaks Lake Tahoe

Maggie's Peaks Lake Tahoe | Photo: Reddit

Although less dramatic than the foreboding mountains surrounding them (i.e. Mt. Tallac), the Bayview trail accesses both the North and South Peaks while providing what might be the best views of Emerald Bay in all of Tahoe. Legend has it there was a particular barmaid of interest at the Tahoe Tavern. They say she was a healthy woman and the regulars named this pair of peaks after her.

Ski Run Boulevard

Ski Run Blvd. South Lake Tahoe

Ski Run Blvd. South Lake Tahoe | Photo: Gary Coronado

Right smack dab in the center of South Lake Tahoe is a road named Ski Run Boulevard. You would assume it’s called that because it accesses Heavenly Ski Resort, but that's not the case. The real reason is because the road WAS an actual ski run before it was a gateway. Back in 1947, before Heavenly Ski Resort was even named, Lee and Daisy Miller opened a small rope tow operation known as Bijou Skyway Park. One of their rope tows was physically on Ski Run Blvd, and although you no longer ski on Ski Run itself, you can still imagine people sliding down the slope.

This is merely an introduction to some of the history behind the places and spots along Lake Tahoe's shores. Not enough history for you? Be sure to check out the great article by Cam Schilling -> A brief history of Tahoe and its peoples.

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Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.


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