John C. Fremont was the first explorer to see Lake Tahoe. He “discovered” it in 1844. For many centuries before Fremont came the Lake Tahoe Basin was a summer home for bands of Washoe Indians. Lake Tahoe had spiritual meaning for these Indians and they held sacred ceremonies along the shore line.
Tahoe got its name when explorers tried to interpret the Washoe word, “Da-ow-a-ga” which meant edge of the lake. The name Tahoe became official in 1945. Before then The Lake went by names such as Bonpland (named after a French botanist), Mountain Lake, and Bigler Lake (Named after California’s third governor).
The discovery of the Comstock silver lode in Nevada caused many of the trees to be removed for lumber. The logs were pulled to The Lake’s shores and then dragged away by steamers.
In 1944 Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Saloon and Gambling Hall was opened.
It was a rustic cabin built with $10 worth of nails. This was the start of the many gambling casinos now present in South Lake Tahoe, although large scale development didn’t begin until the mid 1950’s.