CHAPTER XXI. EMERALD BAY AND CAMP
Situated near the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe is Emerald Bay, by many thousands regarded as the choicest portion of Lake Tahoe. Surrounded by so many wonderful scenes, as one is at Tahoe, it is difficult to decide which possesses surpassing power, but few there are who see Emerald Bay without at once succumbing to its allurement. Its geological history has already been given in Chapter VIII, in which it is clearly shown by Dr. Joseph Le Conte that it was once a glacial lake, and that the entrance to the main lake used to be the terminal moraine that separated the two bodies of water. As a natural consequence, therefore, visitors may expect to find evidences of glacial action on every hand. They are not disappointed. The walls of the Bay, on both north and south, are composed of glacial detritus, that of the south being a pure moraine, separating the once glacial lake of Emerald Bay from Cascade Lake.
Emerald Bay is about three miles in length, with a southwesterly trend, and half a mile wide. The entrance is perhaps a quarter of a mile wide and is formed by a triangular spit of sand, on which grows a lone pine, on the one side, and a green chaparral-clad slope, known as Eagle Point, on the other. The Bay opens and widens a little immediately the entrance is joined. The mountains at the head of the Bay form a majestic background. To the southwest (the left) is Mount Tallac, with a rugged, jagged and irregular ridge leading to the west, disappearing behind two tree-clad sister peaks, which dominate the southern side of the Bay's head. These are known as Maggie's Peaks (8540 and 8725 feet respectively, that to the south being the higher), though originally their name, like that of so many rounded, shapely, twin peaks in the western world gained by the white man from the Indian, signified the well-developed breasts of the healthy and vigorous maiden. Emerging from behind these the further ridge again appears with a nearer and smoother ridge, leading up to a broken and jagged crest that pierces the sky in rugged outline. A deep gorge is clearly suggested in front of this ridge, in which Eagle Lake nestles, and the granite mass which forms the eastern wall of this gorge towers up, apparently higher than the nearer of Maggie's peaks, and is known as Phipps' Peak (9000 feet). This is followed by still another peak, nearer and equally as high, leading the eye further to the north, where its pine-clad ridge merges into more ridges striking northward.
Between Maggie's and Phipps' Peaks the rocky masses are broken down into irregular, half rolling, half rugged foothills, where pines, firs, tamaracks and cedars send their pointed spires upwards from varying levels. In the morning hours, or in the afternoon up to sunset, when the shadows reveal the differing layers, rows, and levels of the trees, they stand out with remarkable distinctness, each tree possessing its own perfectly discernible individuality, yet each contributing to the richness of the clothing of the mountainside, as a whole.
Down across the lower portion of Maggie's Peaks, too to 200 feet above the level of the Bay, the new automobile road has ruled its sloping line down to the cut, where a sturdy rustic bridge takes it over the stream which conveys the surplus waters from Eagle Lake to the Bay. On the other side it is lost in the rolling foothills and the tree-lined lower slopes of Cathedral Peak from whence it winds and hugs the Lake shore, over Rubicon Point to Tahoe Tavern.
But Emerald Bay has other romantic attractions besides its scenery. In the early 'sixties Ben Holladay, one of the founders of the great Overland Stage system that reached from the Pacific Coast to the Missouri River, built a pretentious house at the head of the Bay. Naturally it was occupied by the family only part of the time, and in 1879, a tramp, finding it unoccupied, took up his lodgings therein, and, as a mark of his royal departure, the structure burned down the next morning. The site was then bought by the well-known capitalist, Lux, of the great cattle firm of Miller &Lux, and is now owned by Mrs. Armstrong.
As the steamer slowly and easily glides down the Bay, it circles around a rocky islet, on which a number of trees find shelter. This island was inhabited at one time by an eccentric Englishman, known as Captain Dick, who, after having completed a cottage to live in, carried out the serious idea of erecting a morgue, or a mausoleum, as a means of final earthly deposit upon dissolution. This queer-looking dog-house might have become a sarcophagus had it not been for one thing, viz., Captain Dick, one dark and stormy night, having visited one of the neighboring resorts where he had pressed his cordial intemperately, determined to return to his solitary home. In vain the danger was urged upon him. With characteristic obstinacy, enforced by the false courage and destruction of his ordinarily keen perception by the damnable liquor that had "stolen away his brains," he refused to listen, pushed his sail-boat from the wharf and was never seen again. His overturned boat was afterwards found, blown ashore.
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EMERALD BAY CAMP
Emerald Bay is made accessible to regular summer guests by Emerald Bay Camp, one of the choice and highly commendable resorts of the Tahoe region. The Camp is located snugly among the pines of the north side of the Bay, and consists of the usual hotel, with nearby cottages and tents.
Less than five minutes' walk connects it with the picturesque Automobile Boulevard, which is now connected with the Camp by an automobile road. The distance is four-fifths of a mile and hundreds of people now enjoy the hospitality of Emerald Bay Camp who come directly to it in their own machines.