TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Though the pace of Father Time is pedestrian, it is also relentless. As the years roll by, many small changes of seeming insignificance eventually add up to stunning transformation.
Tahoe City’s birth and development are a case in point: Where once a crew of laborers swung scythes to cut hay in the meadow near Lake Tahoe’s outlet, today golfers pursue par on the links laid out there. Where once a magnificent steamer departed Tahoe City daily to deliver passengers, freight and mail to outlying settlements, today countless colorful fiberglass water toys zip along the waterfront and many more bob in the slips of a modern marina.
“Tahoe City’s First 100 Years,” a newly published book by Carol Van Etten, recalls the unique characters, circumstances and events that helped shape the community in its first century, from its beginnings in 1864 as a fishing camp and hay meadow to its development as a seasonal tourist mecca to its growth in the wake of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.
Van Etten has written and published five other titles on Tahoe history subjects, and her new book brings together information and images collected over a lifetime of study. The volume’s 160 pages are crammed with facts, written accounts and the recollections of early residents, brought vividly to life with more than 250 illustrations.
Many of these images are photographs by Tahoe City residents C.W. “Bill” and Ethel Vernon, professional shutterbugs who helped record life in their town during the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. A series of photos taken by Bill Briner in the town’s 100th year emphasize the changes of the last half-century.
The book is divided into three sections.
First, a chronological history traces the community’s transition from an economy based on agriculture, lumbering and fishing to one dominated by tourism.
Next, a section on services describes such public innovations as electrification, telephone service and the town’s first sewer.
Finally, a walking tour of the commercial district includes an illustrated narrative describing the earlier uses of each parcel.
Throughout the book, eyewitness accounts add rich flavors to the descriptions. Numerous maps and an extensive index will delight fans of old Tahoe City.
“Tahoe City’s First 100 Years” costs $19.95, and is currently available at these local businesses: Alpine Power Equipment, BridgeTender, Granlibakken, McClintock Accountancy, Pete ‘N Peter’s, Sierra Boat Company, Swigard’s Hardware, Tahoe City Marina, Tahoe House, Tahoma Lodge, The Alpine Antiquer, The Dam Café, The Store … Copies and More, and Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City and The Bookshelf in Truckee.
For more information or to purchase online visit www.tahoehistory.info.