The Tallac Historic Site has a rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years. During prehistoric times, the Washoe Tribe used the land to collect plants, fish, and hunt small game. In the mid-1800s, European-American settlers moved into the region, bringing industry and tourism. As Lake Tahoe became more accessible, San Francisco’s wealthy elite built ornate summer estates, which stand today as remnants of a bygone era.
Lake “Tahoe” is derived from the Washoe “da-ow-a-ga”. As the story goes, foreign ears misunderstood the phrase and came up with “Tahoe” instead. “Da-ow-a-ga” translates to “edge of the lake”.
In the 1860s, silver mines boomed in Nevada, and passenger trains began operating on the North Shore. This change decreased traffic via the southern route, prompting Clement to invest in other business ventures. In the early 1870s, he bought eight acres of land at Tallac Point on the Tahoe shore. The land was previously a federally-owned parcel sold into private ownership. He and his wife Lydia built a hostelry at the site called the Tallac Point House. The structure could sleep 40 guests and included a ballroom and camping grounds. While Clement’s business grew, another colorful, outspoken character wanted the same land for a much grander vision.
Restoration and maintenance are ongoing at Tallac as time and weather continue to deteriorate structures.
However, as Lucky Baldwin would famously say, during difficult times,
Enjoy a step-back-time with this short Pope House tour from 1994. Much has changed since then, as restoration work continued throughout the decade. To see the house in its 1920s prime, join a docent-guided tour!