Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake that is located in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. It straddles the state line between California and Nevada, and it is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest lake in the United States after Crater Lake in Oregon. This lake was formed about 2 million years ago as part of the Lake Tahoe Basin. It is popular due to its clear water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. The area that surrounds the lake is also referred to as Lake Tahoe or simply Tahoe.
It is a major tourist attraction in both California and Nevada. Many winter sports, summer outdoor recreation, and sceneries are enjoyed here the whole year. But aside from the sceneries and activities that can be done in Lake Tahoe, it is also popular due to the many mysteries about it. Read on if you want to learn about the mysteries of Lake Tahoe.
How Lake Tahoe Transformed America
Did you know that Lake Tahoe transformed America, not just once but many times? From the earliest Ice Age civilizations all the way to the strangely tangled fates of Frank Sinatra, the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, and Jack Ruby, which were all alleged denizens of the subterranean tunnels hidden beneath the North Shore’s notorious Cal-Neva Casino. Tahoe helped to conquer California, launch the Republican Party, and save the national forests from destruction somewhere in between the Ice Age and the Rat Pack.
For those who don’t know, it’s quite surprising to learn that Lake Tahoe has a self-enclosed nature. It means that its water does not ever flow to the pacific. In fact, even in the 1850s, generations of mapmakers were not convinced, and they believed that there must be some kind of river connecting Lake Tahoe to the Pacific.
John Fremont, the first white explorer to discover Lake Tahoe in 1844, eventually etched the errors into the maps he used to carve out the official boundaries of the new state of California. He accidentally divided Lake Tahoe. Two-thirds of the Lake in California and one-third in Nevada. Later on, when Fremont became the first-ever candidate of the Republican Party, long before Lincoln, images of the Tahoe Sierra were splashed across the GOP’s campaign posters nationwide.
Fremont’s mapping error involved 39 trillion gallons of Sierra snowmelt hidden in a slim frosted granite goblet more than 1,600 feet deep and hoisted over a mile high into skies. It was a feast fit for the gods and a surprise for the eyes. That amount can fill 312 trillion little plastic pint bottles.
Today, even the survival of Lake Tahoe seems surprising. Logged from shoreline to ridgeline in the late 1800s, the Lake stumbled into the 20th century as perhaps the single most systematically ravaged landscape in all the Wild West. But it ranks as one of the premier natural treasures in the world, which is admired by millions of tourists worldwide.
Lake Tahoe: Home of Tessie
If you’ve heard about the Loch Ness Monster, did you know that there’s a similar creature that has been spotted in Lake Tahoe? The stories about these were first told by the Washoe and Paiute tribes in the mid-1800s. They said that the creature resided in an underwater tunnel beneath Cave rock. Since then, there have been many sightings.
In the 1950s, there were two off-duty officers who claimed to see a large, black hump emerge from the water and keep speed with their boat going over 60mph. In the same decade, two divers reported that they found an underwater cave where a creature shot out, leaving the silt stirred. There were two large fin-prints where the creature had been.
In the late 1990s, a kayaking instructor said he had seen a glimpse of what looked like a green two-person kayak flip over and immediately sink. When he went to that area in a speedboat, he did not see any traces of the kayak. His students also did not report flipping over at any time.
In 2004, an off-duty bartender on the Tahoe Queen took a photo of a black hump in the water. He claimed that it was the top of the creature’s head. In 2006, a family was vacationing near Lake Tahoe. They reported that they saw a large, black, scaly-looking creature that is similar to the appearance of a sturgeon with an upturned nose. However, they said that it moved up and down like a mammal and not side to side like a reptile.
With these many stories, the Tahoe Tessie has become a popular icon for local businesses, and they used it for marketing. It is a fun theory to tell your friends about.
Dead Bodies in Lake Tahoe
Aside from Tahoe Tessie, another popular story about Lake Tahoe are people finding dead bodies. Based on one story, a fisherman once snagged something in the deep-water offshore, and it released quickly. Once the fisherman’s hook got to the surface, he found a human ear attached to it. According to theories, the dead bodies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe were the product of the mafia, who got rid of their enemies and dumped the bodies in the lake.
According to locals, there’s a part of the lake near the South Lake casinos called “The Grave.” They said that if you were to take a submarine down the bottom, you would see hundreds of bodies wearing clothes from the early to mid-1900s. These bodies would be highly preserved due to the freezing temperatures at the bottom of the lake.
The mob was influential in the Tahoe area in the 1960s and 1970s. Cal-Neva, which was owned by Frank Sinatra, was rumored to have secret tunnels underneath. It was famously known to accompany meetings for JFK and Marilyn Monroe. In 1968, the owner of Bills Casino named Richard Chartrandwas killed in a car bomb, which was a classic mob hit. Aside from this, the stories of mob activity in the region are endless.
Lake Tahoe indeed has a lot of mysteries and stories. Who knows what’s true and what isn’t? Hopefully, someday we can find more absolute proof of what is actually at the bottom of Lake Tahoe. However, until then, people’s imaginations can run wild, hoping for further explorations and discoveries.