A Guide To The Comstock Lode Historical Markers & Happy 2021

………….2021…………

     I hope you always have the distinct smell of Tahoe trees in your nose

And the pleasure of seeing your toes through clear Lake waters

     I hope breezes whispering through tree tops is the last thing you hear falling asleep

And that you wake to the calls of the azure Steller’s Jays

     I wish you the pleasure of seeing bald eagles cruising in the sun over your head

And the thrill of watching a fading blue sky become dark and over-burdened with night stars

     And throughout this year of two-thousand twenty-one

May you and yours feel as free and joyful as big-dogs romping in sun-sequined snow

……………..

You don’t have to travel anywhere to experience history – it’s here, right under your nose. Just take a short drive.

A tour of Nevada’s past can help us understand where we are today. As our December blog post pointed out, the workings of the Comstock Lode affects the Sierra even today. At times, though, it’s hard to picture long ago events, but a tour of Nevada Historical Monuments can help everyone envision how it looked way back then.

NHM 238 – West side of South Virginia Street, south of Huffaker Lane

This marks the terminus of the Pacific Lumber & Flume. Logs came down the mountain via a 15 mile long water flume to the depot and telegraph office built here by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.

NHM 213 – Just south of Washoe Lake  The location of Lakeview, a lumber storage area. The lumber came down by V-flume from Incline Village. The products were then shipped to the Comstock mines via Virginia & Truckee RR

NHM 193 – Just north of the State Railroad Museum in Carson City, in a small park on the West side of US 395, at the intersection of Stewart Street.

One half mile south of this point was the lumber yard of the Carson-Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company. It was the terminus of the 12 mile V-flume from Spooner Summit

NHM 261 – Spooner Summit

Site of the Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Company settlement housing workers. The company operated the Lake Tahoe Railroad from Glenbrook to this spot. Wood transported by rail was transferred to an 11 mile long V-flume running down to Carson Valley where it was loaded on the V&T Railroad .

NHM 219 – Highway 50 at Glenbrook

Lumbering began in 1861. The Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Fluming Company became the largest Comstock wood and lumber combine, controlling over 50,000 acres of timberland. It operated four sawmills, two Lake Tahoe steam tugs to tow logs, two railroads, employed 500 men, as well as operated a planing mill and box factory in Carson City.

NHM 225 – Spooner Area, is just past the guardhouse at the entrance to Spooner Park.

This marker lets us know that Michele E. Spooner is the reason we have Spooner Lake, Spooner Summit and Spooner’s Meadow. Mr. Spooner, along with his partners, established a wood and lumber company here.

NHM 221 – Sand Harbor, across from the Sand Harbor boat ramp

The steam boat “Niagara” towed log rafts from the South end of Lake Tahoe to Sand Harbor. The logs were loaded onto narrow gauge rail cars and transported 2 miles north to the Mill Creek sawmill.

NHM 246 – Incline Village, Highway 28

  Site of the “Great Incline of the Sierra Nevada”, constructed by the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company.

NHM 1 –  On the South side of U. S. 50 between milepost 14 and 15.

  The site of Empire City, once considered the “Seaport of Nevada”. Near the marker is Deer Run Road which runs south to the river.


Posted on January 28, 2021 at 5:54 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

Incline Village and The Comstock Lode

It’s commonly known that Incline Village was named after the incline railway built by the Sierra Nevada Wood and Lumber Company. The steam powered cable railway, with an average grade of 35%, was known as the Crystal Bay Railroad. Canted cable cars full of lumber and cordwood were pulled 1,4000 feet up by gigantic bull wheels. The wood was then transferred to a gravity flume for the trip down the mountain towards Carson City, and its final destination, the Comstock Lode. How many current Incline Village residents have noticed the Nevada Historical Marker No. 246 marking the spot along Highway 28?

The original Incline Village was built on Incline Creek in 1882. By 1884, the thriving community even had its own post office. The original town wasn’t particularly long lived, though. Tahoe’s last major logging season was in 1894, and after that, the railway was dismantled. The town then disappeared, as had most of the timber in the Tahoe Basin.

The amount of wood removed from the Sierras is almost unimaginable. It’s estimated that by 1881, more than two billion board-feet of lumber had been removed from the Lake Tahoe area. Over a 20 year period, the Comstock Lode alone used 600 million board feet of lumber for square-set timbering, its unique mine framing system, and also used 2 million cords of firewood for running the steam engines in the mines and mills.

The successes of the Comstock Lode were that a few people became wealthy, and the Lode with its silver bonanza financed the Union forces during the Civil War. But in 1889 William Wright {better known as the author Dan DeQuille} wrote: “The Comstock Lode may truthfully be said to be the tomb of the forest of the Sierra….. For a distance of 50 or 60 miles all the hills of the eastern slope of the Sierra have been to a great extent denuded of trees of every kind — those suitable only for wood as well as those fit for the manufacture of lumber for use in the mines.”

Unfortunately, we have been dealing with the aftermath of the Comstock Lode for years. As the Lake Tahoe Basin Management of the U. S. Forest Service points out, because loggers took mostly pine trees and all but the largest fir trees, the forest was naturally reseeded by the firs that remained. After some years of regeneration, the new forest consisted of an overly dense, fir dominated forest, vulnerable to drought, insect infestation and tree death.

There are now, and have been a variety of land management projects aiming to improve the health of our forest. The projects met with some success, but, of course, nothing in nature happens overnight. Through vision as well as dogged commitment from all who love the Tahoe Basin, a healthy ecosystem can and will rise again.


Posted on January 28, 2021 at 5:51 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

They’re Baaaack

Environmental degradation is nothing new. Back around 1890 or so, someone had the bright idea of introducing rainbow, mackinaw, brown and brook trout into Lake Tahoe. That, along with outlandish commercial fish harvesting due to the Comstock boom, and intensive logging and milling activities around the Lake, doomed the native Lahontan trout population. Loggers dumped so much wood pulp into streams that, on some days, the water became too thick for fish to swim through. The further introduction of other non-native species insured that by the 1930s not one Lahontan trout could be found in all of Lake Tahoe.

The Lahontan trout is the State Fish of Nevada, and has been designated as an endangered species. This relic from the Pleistocene era played a large role in the lives of the native Piaute people. John C. Fremont dubbed the tasty pink-meated Lahontan trout the salmon trout. His short pronouncement probably guaranteed that every person  between Reno and San Francisco wanted to eat one.

This ancient species of cutthroat trout survives freezing temperatures, thrives in high-alkaline waters, lives up to 20 years and can grow as heavy as 40 pounds. Put that on the end of a fishing line! But the Lahontan trout cannot reproduce without spawning upstream, so damns became a further threat to their survival.

Considering the obstacles confronting the poor Lahanton trout, it is astonishing that any survived at all. But survive they did, thanks to an unknown benefactor who planted Lahonton trout in the streams of the Pilot Peak Mountains on the Nevada-Utah border.

In the 1970s, fish biologist Robert Behenke was asked to identify a mysterious trout species that couldn’t have been native to the Pilot Peak streams. Through testing he concluded that the trout was of the original Lahontan strain. He was not believed.

Then in the mid-1990s, Mary Peacock, a biology professor at UNR, found that advancements in DNA testing allowed her to compare small genetic samples from a museum with samples taken from the Pilot Peak trout. The results proved that Behnke was correct. The DNA from Pilot Peak fish and the Lahontan variety matched.

It was time to bring the Lahontan trout back to its homeland. Beginning modestly in a garage outside a hatchery near Reno, some Pilot Peak Mountain fingerlings thrived under thoughtful management. Then, to everyone’s satisfaction, the fish continued to thrive, growing fast and large when planted into Pyramid Lake.

The care and management developed by biologists while stocking Fallen Leaf Lake led to more successes. Instead of stocking large numbers of fish all at once, research showed that smaller batches stocked at different locations and at different times allowed more of the young fish to find hiding places and to survive.

Repopulation continued. In 2013 a pair of tagged Lahontan cutthroat trout were observed spawning in a tributary to Fallen Leaf Lake. In 2019, a release of 5,000 Lahontan cutthroat in Lake Tahoe was followed in 2020 by another release of 4,500 fish.

Let’s hope that Lake Tahoe’s Lahontan cutthroat trout population prospers. Then, instead of watching Kokanee run up Taylor Creek, we all can have the thrill of watching the legendary Lahontan cutthroat trout make Taylor Creek their spawning grounds, and continue to spawn right there, generation after generation after generation.

For a pictures of the great and legendary Lahontan cutthroat trout, click here


Posted on October 29, 2020 at 12:26 am
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

The Sierra Nevada

Lake Tahoe is only one of the amazing sights you’ll see when exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. These spectacular mountains not only cradle Tahoe which is the second deepest lake in the U.S., they are also home to Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in the contiguous states, as well as home to Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48.

The impressive 400 mile north-south running mountain range shelters three National Parks – Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia, and two National Monuments – Devils Postpile and Sequoia. It is home to the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth – The General Sherman. Our mountain range houses its own species of bighorn sheep, the endemic Sierra Nevada bighorn with their wonderfully adaptive adhesive hooves. With the addition of twenty protected wilderness areas, recreation and sight-seeing opportunities abound for everyone.

This mountain range is so impactive that California depends on the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack for water, and much of the State’s electric power. On the other hand, the fact that Nevada is the driest state in the Union is a direct result of the rain shadow cast by the Sierra Nevada range.

The Eastern Escarpment of the Sierra is one of the most dramatic sights in the range.  Even though highway 395 runs through the flat Owens Valley at 4,000 feet above sea level, the flanking mountains rise abruptly out of the earth towering to 14,000 feet. The view is stunningly unforgettable, and photo-worthy.

The Sierra Nevada has never been known as benign. Even though winter temperatures are relatively warm, its sometimes enormous snowpack has always caused hardships. Think of the Donner party. The precipitation, however, can and does vary widely from year to year.

At the southern end of the Sierra Escarpment, a particular wind,  known as the “Sierra Rotor” occurs. It’s caused by the height and steepness of the escarpment and strong westerly winds. The rotors are unfriendly sideways mini-twisters occurring mostly in the spring and fall.

The mountains’ complex atmospheric conditions have contributed to a large number of plane crashes. A triangle bounded by Reno, Fresno and Las Vegas has been named by a few people with overactive imaginations as the “Nevada Triangle” in a direct reference to the Bermuda Triangle.

No matter how we view these mountains, we think of the Sierra Nevada as a single mountain range, mostly in California, with the small Carson spur running into Nevada.

But these mountains are really part of the American Cordillera, a chain of ranges that are the backbone of North America. The American Cordillera is part of the North American Cordillera, which is part of the Central American and South American Cordillera. All together, these form the volcanic area which is the eastern half of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Let’s not underestimate our Sierra Nevada Mountains.


Posted on October 10, 2020 at 7:51 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

Making Your Way Through A Seller’s Market

The current seller’s market isn’t the first one Incline Village has known, and it won’t be the last.

Because home buyers and sellers generally have little interest in the real estate market when they are not actively buying or selling, they don’t always realize, or care, how the market moves. But move it does — always.

There is no doubt that 2020 has provided us with a seller’s market.  Anyone owning a piece of property in Incline Village is likely sitting on a hot property. That kind of statement tends to discourage some buyers

However, there are strategies buyers can and should use to create an advantage when trying to successfully negotiate their way through this market.

  • Remember time is of the essence in a seller’s market. In other words, don’t wait to make an offer on a house you like. It will be gone.
  • Don’t lowball. You’re probably not the only buyer who wants that property.
  • Increase your downpayment. The more money you put down, the less you need to finance. So you have less trouble qualifying for a loan. Most sellers realize that.
  • Many home buyers obtain a lender’s pre-qualification letter determining how much of a loan a lender is willing to give them. However, a pre-approval letter makes a stronger impression on sellers.
  • Get pre-approved for a loan. A pre-approval letter from a lender, along with a clean contract with few or no contingencies have won bidding wars — even against cash offers
  • Remember, while pre-qualification can be helpful in determining how much a lender is willing to give you, a pre-approval letter will make a stronger impression on sellers and let them know you have the cash down payment.
  • Be flexible so you can work with the seller. If the seller needs time to move, giving them that time will make your offer stand out against others. If the seller needs to move quickly, make sure you move as quickly as you can.This is another reason to be pre-approved by your lender before you make an offer.
  • It helps to know what motivates a seller. A good buyer’s real estate agent will work with the seller’s agent to create a win-win situation for everyone.
  • Many times a larger earnest money deposit looks good to a seller. Ask your real estate agent for advise, then consider doubling (or tripling) the suggested amount.
  • Don’t ask for favors from the seller. A seller’s market isn’t the time to insist that the washer and dryer be included in the sales price, or ask the seller to make minor unnecessary repairs before closing. 
  • Giving the seller a couple of extra days to move out is not often used as a negotiating tool. A seller will appreciate an offer that lets them move at leisure. That kind of thinking will set your offer apart from others in a bidding war.

Chances are you can buy the house you want — even in today’s tough market.


Posted on October 10, 2020 at 7:50 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

Lake Tahoe Clarity

In Mark Twain’s book “Roughing It”, he described what it was like floating off the north shore of Lake Tahoe in a little skiff.

“So singularly clear was the water, that where it was only twenty or thirty feet deep the bottom was so perfectly distinct that the boat seemed floating in the air. Yes, where it was even eighty feet deep. Every little pebble was distinct, every speckled trout, every hand’s-breadth of sand.”

In the years since that 1887 description of Tahoe’s water was written, the clarity of our lake has been degraded. Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe is definitely not as clear today as it used to be.

Regular measurements of Tahoe’s water clarity began in 1968. At that time a submerged white disc could clearly be seen at a depth of 100 feet. Today, a white disc disappears at around 70 feet. That’s the loss of about 9 inches of clarity per year.

Research into water quality has uncovered the causes of Tahoe’s decline. There has been an increase in fine sediment particles, as well as an increased growth of algae due to higher nutrient levels in the water.  Automobile emissions, and both urban and forested area’s runoff can act like a fertilizer, speeding the algae growth. It’s a simple formula: more algae and fine sediment particles in the water equal less clarity.

Lake Tahoe is not doomed to become a muddy pond, at least, not yet. There is evidence indicating that the decline of water clarity has slowed since 2000, and can even be reversed. The goal is to return to 100 feet of clarity.

The California Regional Water Board, the Lahontan Water Board, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection are committed to, and are working on, a strategy to bring back Lake Tahoe’s magical clarity.

For an in-depth understanding of the problem, and the work being done to decrease the pollutants causing the lake’s clarity decline, read the informative Charting The Course To Clarity. This easily read report also tells us “It takes about 700 years for a drop of water entering the lake to travel around and finally exit”. Fascinating – but how in the world did they measure that?

To get more involved in the efforts, Keep Tahoe Blue, League to Save Lake Tahoe lists ways for us to advocate, support, engage and volunteer.

Through inter-agency cooperation, citizen support, research, science, data collection, and a concept known as Tahoe Maximum Daily Load, someday we all will be able to read Mark Twain’s words and say to ourselves “Yup, he was right”.


Posted on October 10, 2020 at 7:49 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE

Can you imagine bicycling from Incline Village to Spooner Lake comfortably, without worrying about heavy summer traffic as you navigate curve filled Highway 28? No? Now imagine a beautiful summer’s day with you on your bike and a safe, sensational 22 mile round trip ride in front of you. That day will come, but be patient. The Spooner Lake extension of the popular Eastside Trail won’t be completed until 2026, but when it is — wow!

The new section will be 8 miles long, extending the length of the trail to 11 beautiful miles.

The plan is to build the new section on the Lake side of Highway 28, following the highway’s route instead of the shoreline.

If the popularity of the existing 3 miles of the Eastside Trail gives us any hints, we can be sure that the completed trail will be well used. That leads to the question of parking. Currently there are 91 parking spaces at the Incline Village trailhead. However, The Tahoe Transportation District has applied for a grant to complete another 90 parking spaces along Highway 28 in Incline Village. If the grant is approved, construction will begin in 2021.

At the other end of the trail, plans for a 250 vehicle parking lot across from the Spooner Lake State Park entrance. Skunk Harbor will gain about 40 new parking spaces, with Secret Harbor and Chimney Beach getting 105 and 140 new parking spaces respectively. In total, over 535

new parking spaces are included in the planned extension. Also, planned are transit stops at each location. The Tahoe Fund points out that the expanded parking and transit stops are “to meet exiting visitor recreation access and not to encourage greater access to the beaches and coves.”

There is a goal larger than the trail from Incline Village to Spooner Lake. Eventually, the Tahoe Trail will circumnavigate Lake Tahoe. Right now, there are 35 completed miles just waiting for the hum of your bicycle wheels.

With so much to be done, construction continues. On the south end of the Lake, Tahoe Transportation District is completing a ½ mile connection from the casinos to the Rabe Meadow trail. There is also work on a 3 mile extension from the U.S. Forest Service’s Round Hill Pines Historic Resort to the Zephyr Cove Resort & Beach.

Additionally, the Tahoe Transportation District is seeking grant funding to complete the 3 mile segment from Crystal Bay to Incline Village.

Maybe the best part of all is that you can get involved. The Tahoe Fund is giving the opportunity to leave a legacy by having your name engraved on a donor wall for as little as a $100.00 donation. Or, for a larger donation, you can have your name engraved on a bear shaped paver, or a trout-shaped plaque.

To learn more about the plans and progress of the Lake Tahoe Trail, click on either of the links below:

tahoefund.org

tahoetransportation.org


Posted on October 10, 2020 at 7:47 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

TERRIFYING TAHOE

The story, as told by some Tahoe residents, is that after Jacques Cousteau’s 1970s deep dive into Tahoe waters, he remarked “The world is not ready for what I have seen.” However, after some investigating the Los Angeles Times, along with other newspapers, reported that Jacques Cousteau never visited or made an underwater exploration of Lake Tahoe.

https://www.kqed.org/quest/22882/rumors-and-truth-in-lake-tahoe

In 2011, a group of deep divers found the body of a man who’d been missing since 1994. The remains, in a wetsuit and still buckled into weights and a tank, was lying on a shelf over 200 feet below the surface. The missing diver had been with a friend but equipment problems caused him to begin sinking. An immediate and thorough search found no sign of him, leaving his well preserved remains hidden for 17 years.

Many are convinced that lava tubes connect Lake Tahoe with other area lakes. Some maintain that a tube exists between Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, others swear that Tahoe is connected to Fallen Leaf Lake. No matter which lakes are attached what lakes, the believers are sure the presumed lava tubes hold many secrets — not to mention bodies.

https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/7f2l89/is_there_a_secret_underwater_passageway_between/

Stories are plentiful about Tahoe Tessie, the legendary sometimes seen monster (think Loch Ness) who’s been seen swimming around our Lake. The UC Davis Tahoe Research Group attributes the stories and sightings to pareidolia (look it up) and/or the mistaken identification of a large breed fish. There are a few people who believe that when Tessie is resting between appearances, she hides out in an underwater cave at the base of supposedly haunted Cave Rock on the Lake’s east shore.

http://www.paranormalghostsociety.org/CaveRock.htm

The most intriguing investigation of Lake Tahoe’s depths was in 2016. A group of amateurs dropped a Go Pro camera at one of the deepest points of the Lake. It took 4 minutes for the camera to reach the muddy bottom. The results were a bit disappointing, so the operators reeled their camera back in, attached a glow stick and a can of sardines to the Go Pro, and dropped the whole package overboard. After another 4 minutes they saw a smallish fish, and then the camera caught a larger very shark-like fish. Upon viewing the video, experts at UC Davis said the large swimmer was a big trout. Seriously?

https://www.kcra.com/article/mysterious-creature-spotted-in-depths-of-lake-tahoe-2/6281512#


Posted on May 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

TAHOE PYRAMID TRAIL

It was an ambitious plan for audacious bicycle riders. A marked trail, for bicyclists (and hikers}, from the Tahoe City damn all the way to Pyramid Lake.

Starting in Tahoe City, at the damn beginning of the Truckee, you can follow the mountain water until it empties into Pyramid Lake, 116 miles away.

The Tahoe Pyramid Trail, begun in 2002, originally known as the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway, is more than 80% complete. Plans are in motion to complete the unfinished 20%.

Most of the trail skirts traffic, but part of it merges with traffic for a few miles, especially when the dedicated bike trail from Tahoe City turns into a bike lane on busy Highway 89 at the Squaw Valley turn-off. At Truckee, though, the trail stays away from traffic, following the Truckee River as it descends from its 6,225’ beginning elevation to Pyramid Lake’s 3,700’. Though, there are a few other shared use portions in Reno itself.

As expected, the change in elevation results in a complete change of scenery. The lushness of the mountains gradually turns into a sparse but spectacular desert vistas, as shown in an interesting blog post from a dedicated Nevada cyclist.

The Tahoe Pyramid trail is marked by small arrowed signs pointing the way along the trail. Larger signs are found at section start and end points, giving more information, such as trail difficulty, current trail conditions, and services along that particular section. Also provided, at no cost, are digital tools, such as PDF maps to view or download, RideWithGPS, or Google Maps and GPX files to download. 

If you are planning any kind of a trip along the trail, its website tahoepyramidtrail.org is loaded with information and pictures. The site breaks the trail down into sections, giving specific information about each section, and best of all great pictures have been posted showing the exact road/trail conditions you’ll be expected to navigate.

Traversing the Tahoe Pyramid Trail is no simple Sunday ride in the park. It has a few tough-looking parts, so it is obviously not suitable for everyone. Fortunately, the web site is a perfect source for planning, and for realizing the obstacles that must be overcome by either riders or walkers.

Summer is the perfect time to explore this well-planned trail. According to some calculations found on the internet, bike riders have to push their pedals 200 times to travel a statute mile. It follows then that an average rider has to pedal 23,200 times to complete a ride on the Tahoe Pyramid Trail. Are you up to it?


Posted on March 30, 2020 at 10:02 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

THE TAHOE EAST SHORE TRAIL

It was worth the wait. Even though it’s only been opened since June 2019, the Tahoe East Shore Trail is a stunning 3 mile walking/bike path that has acquired the deserved reputation of being one of America’s most beautiful bike paths.

The new path begins in Incline Village. It then climbs, drops, and winds its way to Sand Harbor  Nevada State Park. The trail has plenty of viewpoints, lots of paths for Lake access, and places just to sit and enjoy a day full of sunshine. But the best part of the trail is that there is more to come.

An 8 mile extension from Sand Harbor to Spooner Lake is being planned. The US Forest Service has defined the proposed action. A few of the project’s goals are:

– improve highway safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists

– Expand and add off-highway parking

– Tie into the Tahoe Basin’s bicycle network

– Protect the quality and character of the existing outdoor recreation resources

– Minimize impact to Tahoe’s natural features

– Provide accessible, sustainable connections to the shoreline and trails

– Restore 7 miles of user-created routes to their natural states

– Construction of a permanent vessel inspection station at Highways 28 & 50

A few miles of a shared-use path seems like a simple project, however, the steepness of the terrain, existing utilities, and environmental concerns could well rule out any fast completion.

Retaining walls, slope stabilization, safety railings are only a few of the obstacles planners will have to take into consideration. The Forest Service report wisely and repeatedly points out the need to protect the quality and character of the existing resources while providing excellent user experiences.

If the first 3 miles of the East Shore Trail is the example that will be followed, it’s assured that the Spooner Lake segment will be spectacular.

Just imagine getting on your bike one super summer day, and being able to pedal all the way to Spooner Lake – safely. Nothin’ better!


Posted on March 16, 2020 at 6:15 pm
Stacey Hanna | Posted in Uncategorized |

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