CHAPTER XVIII. BY STEAMER AROUND LAKE TAHOE
The ride around Lake Tahoe is one of varied delights, as the visitor sees not only the Lake itself from every possible angle, but gains an ever shifting panorama of country, and, more remarkable than all, he rides directly over that wonderful kaleidoscope of changing color that is a never-ceasing surprise and enchantment.
Tahoe Tavern is the starting point of the ride, the train conveying the passenger directly to the wharf from which he takes the steamer. Capt. Pomin is in control.
Not far from where this, the most beautiful and charming hotel of the Lake is erected, there used to be a logging camp, noted as the place from which the first ties were cut for that portion of the Central Pacific Railroad lying east of the summit of the Sierras. A number of beautiful private residences line the Lake for some distance, the area having been portioned out in acre and half-acre lots. Chief of these are the summer home of Professor W.T. Reid, for a time President of the State University of California, and Idlewyld, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Kohl, of San Francisco.
One of the oldest villas of this portion of the Lake used to be owned by Thomas McConnell, of Galt, and it was his daughter, Mary, who first made the ascent of one of the peaks now known as Maggie's Peaks, as a marble tablet placed there testifies.
In the mountains beyond are Ward's Peak (8665 feet) to the right, and Twin Peak (8924) to the left, from the first of which heads Ward's Creek, and the second Blackwood Creek, both entering the Lake two miles or so apart. Just beyond Twin Peak are Barker's Peak (8000 feet), and nearer to the Lake, Ellis Peak (8745 feet), the waters from the former making the South Fork of Blackwood Creek. Ellis Peak, being easily reached by a good trail, is the common point of ascent from Homewood, McKinney's, Tahoe Tavern and other resorts.
Six miles out from the Tavern, the first stop is made at Homewood, one of the newer resorts.
Three and one-half to four miles further along is McKinney's, one of the oldest, best known and well established resorts on Lake Tahoe. It was founded by J.W. McKinney, who was first attracted to this region by the Squaw Valley excitement. (See special chapter.) For a time in 1862-3 he sold lots on the townsite of Knoxville, then when the bottom dropped out of the "boom" he returned to Georgetown, engaged in mining, but returned to Tahoe in or about 1867, located on 160 acres on the present site and in 1891-2, after having erected two or three cottages, embarked fairly and fully in the resort business. For several years his chief patronage came from the mining-camps, etc., of Nevada, Gold Hill, Virginia City, Dayton, Carson City, Genoa, etc. They came by stage to Glenbrook and thence across the Lake, on the small steamer that already was doing tourist business in summer and hauling logs to the lumber mills in winter and spring. Thus this resort gained its early renown.
The bottom of the Lake may be seen at a considerable depth near McKinney's, and looks like a piece of mosaic work. The low conical peak, back of McKinney's is about 1400 feet above the Lake and used to be called by McKinney, Napoleon's Hat.
The next stop of the steamer is quite close to McKinney's, viz., Moana Villa, and a mile or so further on at Pomin's, the former an old established resort, and the latter an entirely new one. After passing Sugar Pine Point, Meek's Bay and Grecian Bay are entered. These two shallow indentations along the shore line are places where the color effects are more beautiful than anywhere else in the Lake, and vie with the attractions of the shore in arresting the keen attention of the traveler. Meek's Bay is three miles long, and, immediately ahead, tower the five peaks of the Rubicon Range, some 3000 feet above the Lake. Beyond, a thousand feet higher, is snow-crowned Tallac, - the mountain - as the Washoe Indians called it, the dominating peak of the southwest end of the Lake.
Rubicon Point is the extension of the Rubicon Range and it falls off abruptly into the deepest portion of the Lake. The result is a marvelous shading off of the water from a rich sapphire to a deep purple, while the shore on either side varies from a bright sparkling blue to a blue so deep and rich as almost to be sombre. Well, indeed, might Lake Tahoe be named "the Lake of ineffable blue." Here are shades and gradations that to reproduce in textile fabrics would have pricked a king's ambition, and made the dyers of the Tyrian purple of old turn green with envy. Solomon in his wonderful temple never saw such blue as God here has spread out as His free gift to all the eyes, past, present and to come, and he who has not yet seen Tahoe has yet much to learn of color glories, mysteries, melodies, symphonies and harmonies.
Soon, Emerald Bay is entered. This is regarded by many as the rich jewel of Lake Tahoe. The main body of the Bay is of the deep blue our eyes have already become accustomed to, but the shore-line is a wonderful combination of jade and emerald, that dances and scintillates as the breeze plays with the surface of the waters. A landing is made at Emerald Bay Camp, one of the most popular resorts of the Lake, and while at the landing the curious traveler should take a good look at the steep bank of the opposite shore. This is a lateral moraine of two glaciers, one of which formed Emerald Bay, as is explained in Chapter VIII, and the other formed Cascade Lake, which nestles on the other side of the ridge.
At the head of Emerald Bay, also, is Eagle Falls, caused by the outflow of water from Eagle Lake, which is snugly ensconced at the base of the rugged granite cliffs some three miles inland.
Four miles beyond Emerald Bay is Tallac, one of the historic resorts on the Lake.