If you’ve ever lived in Northern California, odds are you’ve either spent some time in Lake Tahoe or know someone who has. Just a few hours past Sacramento, Lake Tahoe’s majesty draws awe from locals and visitors alike regardless of season. However, did you know it wasn’t originally called “Lake Tahoe”?
Lake Tahoe was originally named “Dao w a ga” by a Washoe tribe of Native Americans. This was later mispronounced by settlers who came to the area, referring to it as “Da ow”, which eventually devolved further to “Tahoe”. It wasn’t until 1945 that Tahoe was designated it’s official name – before then it was also known as “Lake Bigler”, after a California Governor, “Bonpland” after a French botanist, and Mountain Lake.
Donner Party jokes aside, here is some additional Tahoe Trivia that is sure to interest even the most hardened locals:
Fleur de Lac, a West Shore residence, served as the site of a Mafia family’s home in the Godfather Part II. This walled compound of multi-million dollar condos at Tahoe Pines was originally a 16-acre mansion constructed as the private residence of Henry J. Kaiser in 1935.
Lake Tahoe is fed by 63 streams and 2 hot springs. According to research, with a volume of 39 trillion gallons of water, if the Lake was ever drained it would take around 700 years for the hot springs, snowmelt and precipitation to fill it again entirely.
The 1960 winter Olympics at Squaw Valley were the first Games to be held in the Western United States. There were many other “firsts” that occurred that year: these were the first games to be televised, the first time computers were used to tabulate results, the first time a woman took the Olympic oath on behalf of all the athletes, and the first time all competing athletes were housed under one roof. This was also the first time the U.S. won a gold medal in ice hockey. In midst of the Cold War, all of America held their breath as they watched the United States Olympic hockey team defeat the Russians to win the Gold with a close 3-2 victory.
- Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S. with a depth of 1,645 ft (501 m), and 8th deepest in the world.
- At its longest and widest, Lake Tahoe measures 22 miles (35 km) by 12 miles (19km)
- The shoreline circumference of the lake is 72 miles (116km)
- The average surface elevation is 6,225 ft (1,897 m) above sea level
- Lake Tahoe is 2/3 in California and 1/3 in the state of Nevada
- The Lake is 1,645 feet deep at the deepest point, which means one could immerse the Empire State Building into the lake, stack the Washington Monument on top and still have 20 feet to spare!
- The Lake never freezes because of its enormous size.
- There are 63 tributaries draining into Lake Tahoe with only one outlet at the Truckee River in Tahoe City.
- The sun shines at Lake Tahoe for 75% of the year, or 274 days.
- At lake level, annual snowfall averages 125 inches. At alpine skiing elevations, the snowfall averages 600 inches per year.
- At the surface, Lake Tahoe’s water temperature varies from 41 to 68 degrees F. Below a depth of 600 to 700 ft, the water remains a constant 39 degrees.
- The Lake is so clear that you can see a white dinner plate 75 feet down!
- If you were to pour Lake Tahoe out onto an area the size of California, the water would still be 14 inches (36 cm) deep. Texas would be covered in 9 inches of water.
- There are more ski lifts in the Lake Tahoe Basin than in the entire state of Colorado.
- The amount of water in Lake Tahoe (39 trillion gallons) is enough to supply each person in the U.S. with 50 gallons of water per day for 5 years.
- The amount of water that evaporates from the Lake each day (1.4 million gallons) could supply a city the size of Los Angeles for 5 years.
Do you know any trivia or facts about Tahoe that I haven’t listed? Like, where I could go to get the best adult hot chocolate after a day of hitting the slopes? Let me know!