Lake Tahoe is on the east side of the Sierras. It’s where the water of a large endoheric basin drains into. It collects rain and snow-melt from 505 square miles of land that straddles the California-Nevada border, though, most of the water comes from snow as its yearly snowfall average is 190 inches.

Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide. In terms of volume of water, it is the 6th biggest lake in the United States, behind the five Great Lakes. It is the second deepest lake in North America at 1645′ (only behind Oregon’s Crater Lake at 1949′). Tahoe is the 16th deepest lake in the entire world.

Throughout the 19th century its name changed from Lake Bonpland to Mountain Lake to Fremonts Lake to Lake Bigler to Lake Tahoe. Mark Twain scoffed at “Tahoe” by saying,

People say that Tahoe means ‘Silver Lake’ – ‘Limpid Water’ – ‘Falling Leaf’. Bosh! It means grasshoper soup, the favorite dish of the digger tribe – and of the Paiutes as well.”

But “Tahoe” won.

The first white man to see Lake Tahoe was John C. Fremont in 1844 during his second expedition exploring the American West. Spaniards had never been here because, as I’ve said before, there was no motivation for them to venture from their coastal missions to explore the interior of what became California. The prime directive of those missions was to keep Russian seal hunting bases as far north from Mexico as possible. Humboldt’s romantic curiosities didn’t win the hearts of Californios.

Again, California became part of the United States in 1848. That same year gold was discovered not too far away at Sutter’s Mill on the American River on the western drainage of the Sierras. The California Gold Rush brought in tens of thousands of people, and many passed by Tahoe on their way to the gold fields. The discovery of Nevada’s Comstock Lode of silver in 1858, 15 miles east of Tahoe, brought in more people.

During the 20th century Lake Tahoe became a retreat for the ever-growing population of California. Honestly though, the development of tourism, housing, water management and whatever else is highly governed by Commifornia around Tahoe is not something I’m particularly well-versed on because I’d never been here before.

You can read about it in Wikipedia. Or, ask Michael Corleone.