California is proving itself more and more the wonderland of the United States. Its hosts of annual visitors are increasing with marvelous rapidity; its population is growing by accretions from the other states faster than any other section in the civilized world. The reasons are not far to seek. They may be summarized in five words, viz., climate, topography, healthfulness, productiveness and all-around liveableness. Its climate is already a catch word to the nations; its healthfulness is attested by the thousands who have come here sick and almost hopeless and who are now rugged, robust and happy; its productiveness is demonstrated by the millions of dollars its citizens annually receive for the thousands of car-loads (one might almost say train-loads) of oranges, lemons, grape-fruit, walnuts, almonds, peaches, figs, apricots, onions, potatoes, asparagus and other fruits of its soil; and its all-around home qualities are best evidenced by the growth, in two or three decades, of scores of towns from a merely nominal population to five, ten, twenty, forty or fifty thousand, and of the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland to metropolises, the two former already claiming populations of half a million or thereabouts.
As far as its topography, its scenic qualities, are concerned, the world of tourists already has rendered any argument upon that line unnecessary. It is already beginning to rival Switzerland, though that Alpine land has crowded populations within a day's journey to draw from. One has but to name Monterey, the Mt. Shasta region, Los Angeles, San Diego and Coronado, the Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the Big Trees, the King and Kern River Divide, Mono Lake and a score of other scenic regions in California to start tongues to wagging over interesting reminiscences, whether it be in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid or Petrograd.
Books galore are being published to make California's charms better known, and it has long seemed strange to me that no book has been published on Lake Tahoe and its surrounding country of mountains, forests, glacial valleys, lakes and canyons, for I am confident that in one or two decades from now its circle of admirers and regular visitors will include people from all over the civilized world, all of whom will declare that it is incomparable as a lake resort, and that its infinite variety of charm, delight and healthful allurement can never adequately be told.
Discovered by the "Pathfinder" Fremont; described in the early days of California history and literature by John Le Conte, Mark Twain, Thomas Starr King, Ben C. Truman, and later by John Vance Cheney and others; for countless centuries the fishing haunt of the peaceable Nevada Washoes, who first called it Tahoe - High or Clear Water - and of the California Monos; the home of many of their interesting legends and folk-lore tales; occasionally the scene of fierce conflicts between the defending Indians and those who would drive them away, it early became the object of the jealous and inconsequent squabbling of politicians. Its discoverer had named it Mountain Lake, or Lake Bonpland, the latter name after the traveling and exploring companion of Baron von Humboldt, whose name is retained in the Humboldt River of Nevada, but when the first reasonably accurate survey of its shores was made, John Bigler was the occupant of the gubernatorial chair of the State of California and it was named after him. Then, later, for purely political reasons, it was changed to Tahoe, and finally back to Bigler, which name it still officially retains, though of the thousands who visit it annually but a very small proportion have ever heard that such a name was applied to it.
In turn, soon after its discovery, Tahoe became the scene of a mining excitement that failed to "pan out," the home of vast logging and lumber operations and the objective point to which several famous "Knights of the Lash" drove world-noted men and women in swinging Concord coaches. In summer it is the haunt of Nature's most dainty, glorious, and alluring picturesqueness; in winter the abode, during some days, of the Storm King with his cohorts of hosts of clouds, filled with rain, hail, sleet and snow, of fierce winds, of dread lightnings, of majestic displays of rudest power. Suddenly, after having covered peak and slope, meadow and shore, with snow to a depth of six, eight, ten or more feet, the Storm King retires and Solus again reigns supreme. And then! ah, then is the time to see Lake Tahoe and its surrounding country. The placid summer views are exquisite and soul-stirring, but what of Tahoe now? The days and nights are free from wind and frost, the sun tempers the cold and every hour is an exhilaration. The American people have not yet learned, as have the Europeans in the Alps, the marvelous delights and stimulations of the winter in such a place as Lake Tahoe. But they will learn in time, and though a prophet is generally without honor in his own country, I will assume a role not altogether foreign, and venture the assertion that I shall live to see the day when winter visitors to Lake Tahoe will number more than those who will visit it throughout the whole of the year (1914) in which I write. One of the surprises often expressed by those I have met here who have wintered in the Alps is that no provision is made for hotel accommodation during the winter at Lake Tahoe.