Lake Tahoe has a rich and interesting history. In the 1860s, silver was discovered in the Sierra Nevada. Fortunes seekers scurried to the Lake Tahoe area during the California Gold Rush, hoping to strike it rich as the massive Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859 in nearby Virginia City, Nevada.
Soon, the influx of pioneers to the region was so great that "Bonanza Road," later to become Highway 50, was forged across the mountains. As traffic increased, way stations, stables and toll houses to collect fares for traveling Bonanza Road began to spring up.
Silver wasn't the only valuable commodity early settlers found in the area. Tahoe's timber-rich forests became a necessary resource for the increasing number of people needing fuel and to support the labyrinth of mines being constructed beneath Virginia City. But the easy availability of timber soon led to the devastation of Tahoe's forests, which were heavily logged between 1860 and 1890. The decline of the Comstock Lode probably rescued Tahoe's diminishing forests.
By the turn of the century, word of Lake Tahoe's natural beauty had reached the elite families of San Francisco. The wealthy, seeking a new scenic getaway, flocked to Lake Tahoe to stay at the area's plush new hotels. During this heyday of steamship transportation, the boats delivered mail and supplies to the hotels just as often as they hosted visitors' lavish parties.
Postcard of the Tahoe Tavern overlooking Lake Tahoe, circa 1932