Tahoe’s Vikingsholm: The Real Jewel of Emerald Bay

Vicki Kahn
Special to the Sun
Sierra State Parks Foundation Board of Directors President Ron Treabess and volunteer extraordinaire Helen Henry Smith stood outside the visitor center at Vikingsholm.

There are scant few more magical and precious settings to spend a summer evening in Tahoe than Vikingsholm. Rarely opened up to the public for social gatherings, Vikingsholm, a charming example of classic Scandinavian architecture, is nestled among the towering pines and cedar trees at the head of iconic and breathtakingly beautiful Emerald Bay State Park. Fashioned after a medieval chieftain’s castle circa 1200-1400 AD, Vikingsholm’s unique features include massive hand-hewn timbers, granite stone walls quarried nearby, a sod roof, unique hand-crafted Viking woodcarvings and crown chimneys. Many of the original furnishings were hand selected and imported from Scandinavia by Mrs. Lora Knight, who built Vikingsholm back in 1929.

Last Saturday night 170 invited guests were shuttled to the extraordinary site for an evening hosted by the California State Parks Foundation that included an open house viewing of the mansion, wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Melanie and crew, a silent auction, a dedication of a new exhibit and the world premier of an hour-long film about Vikingsholm. The new Helen Henry Smith exhibit highlights the vision and tenacity of one women’s quest to preserve the legacy of this historical landmark. Smith spent 14 summers as a child at Vikingsholm and has also been a tour guide and historian for the last 30 years for the State Parks. Smith was ecstatic at the evening that honored her.

Tahoe City’s favorite son Ron Treabess, President of the Board of Directors of the Sierra State Parks Foundation, acted as the master of ceremonies for the evening. Warmly-dressed guests gathered in the cozy stone courtyard for munching and mingling before walking over to the visitor center for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony of the new exhibit. The finale of the evening was the premier showing of the movie, and#8220;Vikingsholmand#8212;the Legacy of Lora Knight and Helen Smithand#8221; which guests viewed in the courtyard. A CD of the film is available for sale at Vikingsholm visitor center and the visitor centers at Sugar Pine Point and DL Bliss State Parks, or by calling the Sierra State Parks Foundation at 525-9460.

Some of those enchanted by the evening’s setting included Shirley and Don Hale, Annette and Fred Gellert (they boated over), Geri Isenberg, Marynell Hartnett, Lauren and Ron Parson, Sue Gross, Heidi and Sarah Doyle, Elisa Tauber, Candi Wickman, Betty Fulda, Kay and Boyce Williams, Steve Lind, Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery and Dan Gomez, Joanne and Jeff Hurst, Nancy and Bob Proano, Marilyn Treabess, Sierra State Parks Foundation Executive Director Marguerite Sprague, California State Parks Foundation President Elizabeth Goldstein, Director of California State Parks Ruth Coleman, Fritzi and Bill Briner, Penny and Steve Teshara, Sally Taylor and Rob Weston, Emily and Josh Murphy (he was the film maker of the Vikingsholm film) and Susanne and Paul Walker.

and#8212;Vicki Kahn may be e-mailed at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.