Tahoe and Vicinity June 22, 2021


Incline village was named after the incline railroad that once lifted heavy Tahoe timbers 1,400 feet up the steep mountain side, beginning their long journey to the Comstock mines. What about the other communities around Tahoe’s north shore? How did they get their names?

Kings Beach, for example. Many stories say that this little corner of the Lake Tahoe shore was named after the lucky Joe King, who won the land in a card game against George Whittell. Maybe so, maybe not. The Wikipedia write-up about Kings Beach states that Kings Beach was named after its first postmaster.

Apparently, more than one of Tahoe’s communities was named for, or by, their postmasters. Originally known as Hot Springs, Brockway was named in honor of Nathaniel Brockway, the uncle of its first postmaster.

The first road built for tourists coming from the rail-stop at Truckee was over Brockway summit. The road ended at Brockway pier, where steamboats waited to transport people to other locations around the lake. And, shortly after the road’s completion, a “commodious” hotel was built at Brockway.

A post office, simply known as Tahoe, was opened at the Truckee River outlet in 1871. It’s been operating ever since, except for a brief period around 1896. Then in 1949, its name was changed to Tahoe City.

Dollar Point, next to Tahoe City, was once known as Old Lousy. There are three different stories about the origin of the name. A boat captain named Todman, who had difficulty navigating around the promontory called it the lousy point. Then, there was a Mr. Watson who said that the waters around the point were lousy with trout.

A favorite, though, is the one about a cordwood cutter named Griffin who lived on the point. He’d regularly visit a tavern in Tahoe City, having a drink while warming himself by their stove. Griffin’s habit of picking living, crawling vermin off himself and his raggedy clothes didn’t endear him to the other patrons, who never hesitated to tell Old Lousy to go home to his shack and stay there.

Fortunately, Old Lousy was rechristened Dollar Point after being acquired by Stanley Dollar, of San Francisco.

Agate Bay and its neighborhood were probably named after the volcanic rock outcropping that can be seen clearly by boaters out on the lake.

Agate is a common rock formation consisting of chalcedony and quartz. Carnelian is a member of the chalcedony family.

Of course, Carnelian Bay was named for the generous sprinkling of the reddish stones that were plentiful, and easily found on the beaches.

For those who believe in the power of gem stones, the red and yellow carnelian stones can give courage, motivate for success and stimulate creativity. They also treat lower back problems, arthritis, rheumatism and neuralgia, as well as promoting positive life choices. The carnelian stones are also used for fertility. Goodness!

Lake Tahoe has been called the jewel of the Sierra. Obviously it is — in more ways than one.