Old growth timber was harvested from Lake Tahoe and sent to the mines in Virginia City.

Miners, Mormons, and pioneers were the next to come.

The Lincoln Highway allowed travel by car around both north and south ends of the lake. Lincoln Highway monuments, like the one above, showed travelers the way.

No flip-flops, shorts, or t-shirts stuffed in a duffel bag for women of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Steamships were used for logging and eventually for tourism.

The beautiful S. S. Tahoe, her helm wheel shown above, was built initially for tourism, and today, rests at the bottom of the lake.

Early pioneers brought ranching and farming to the basin.

Visit the History Museum and find out more!

Chinese immigrants provided cord wood for the mines, mills, trains, and heat. They blasted tunnels through the mountains for the Central Pacific Railroad. 

The Pony Express galloped through the Sierra Nevadas from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA.

Swiss immigrants drove cows to the high meadows in summer, making sweet cream butter from their milk.

The early 1800s brought trappers and traders.

Native species like the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout were displaced by non-native species in the late 1800s. Intrepid fisher woman, Emma Lawrence, caught an 18 pound Mackinaw in 1910.

Washoe, the first inhabitants of Da ow, or Lake Tahoe. 

Resorts cropped up all around the lake, originally accessed by train and steamship, eventually by automobiles.

Beginning with long board skiing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and eventually hosting the Squaw Valley Olympics, Tahoe has been a magnet to winter sports enthusiasts.

The gaming industry grew up at the state line and still attracts tourists today.

Heavy stones were shaped by Washoe into rabbit net weights.

An immigrant from Norway delivered mail on skis.

Camping, fishing, hiking, boating, and interest in history have morphed into Geotourism today.  

Lake Tahoe History Museum  530.541.5458

Preserving Tahoe's History


The History Museum is open on Saturdays this May 2022 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Starting in June, we are open 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday!

The 1930s Log Cabin will be open on Saturdays, June through August, from noon to 2:00 pm.

Private tours of the museum and cabin during closed months or purchases in the bookstore are welcomed, provided we have a volunteer available. To arrange a private tour, call 530-541-5458 and leave your name and number or email LTHS@laketahoemuseum.org.

We will do our very best to accommodate you in a safe manner. Our volunteers love to share this community treasure!​  


The History Museum features exhibits about its first inhabitants, the Washoe, trappers and traders, early pioneers, ice cutting, logging and its importance to Virginia City mining, mail delivery systems by Snowshoe Thompson and the Pony Express, railroads, steamships, tourism, the Lincoln Highway, the gaming industry, and much more!


Our Museum Bookstore includes a large collection of titles on Lake Tahoe and western history, a collection of over 5,000 photos available for reprint, cards, gifts, including books and merchandise for children. You can watch any of our DVDs of the history and formation of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding region, many available in our bookstore. Take a quick tour of the museum below.