Lakeside Park History Trail: Self-guided tour explores historic neighborhood

Doc’s Cottages: Note state line painted in lower left corner. | Mark McLaughlin

They’ve done it again. Lake Tahoe Historical Society has added to its Historic Walking Tours with one of the oldest neighborhoods: Lakeside Park. There are two walking tours in the series now: Al Tahoe Historic Tour and Lakeside Park History Trail.

Historic Lakeside Park is a quaint neighborhood that abuts the California-Nevada state line on the east, Park Avenue to the west and from the shoreline of Lake Tahoe south to Highway 50. The Historical Society has created a self-guided walking tour through the historic neighborhood.

At each stop on the tour, there are signs with QR codes to scan to allow participants to use their cell phone to download background information. The historical society has also posted a 1909 surveyor’s plat map of the original Lakeside Park resort and housing development to help navigation of the early neighborhood, one of the first subdivisions in South Lake Tahoe, to its website.

Lakeside Park’s history
In June 1901, the Katherine Smith family installed a steamer pier and a post office and soon opened Lakeside House. The Lakeside Pier gave access to the daily, year-round steamer with its connection to Tahoe City and the short-line railroad to Truckee and Southern Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental line. Truckee also linked to the planned Lincoln Highway, as well.

In 1909, housing lots in Lakeside Park — just a short walk to a beautiful sand beach — were first sold for $75 with a $10 deposit and a generous extended payment plan.

Although unpaved for much of its length at the time, the route between South Lake Tahoe and Placerville — via future Highway 50 — had recently been designated an interstate highway between Nevada and California with congressional approval of funding for the road to be improved, paved and maintained. Most Americans did not own an automobile then, but mass production and lower prices would soon make the horseless carriage essential family transportation.

In 1909, housing lots in Lakeside Park — just a short walk to a beautiful sand beach — were first sold for $75 with a $10 deposit and a generous extended payment plan. Sales agent E. A. Charlton of Berkeley, successfully enticed prospective Bay Area customers with his slogan: “The cost is so small you will never miss it.”

For those without the funds to build a house immediately, Charlton encouraged young families to pitch tents on their lot until constructing a cottage or summer home became affordable. Some of the cabins built in the 1920s are still standing and owned by the descendants who arrived by steamship more than a century ago.

The promotional literature pitched Lakeside Park’s ideal locale and amenities: “Located within a few minutes’ walk of Hotel [Lakeside Lodge], Post Office, Telephone, Steamboat and Auto Stage Service, Store, Bathing Beach, Boating and the general center for all social activities.”

Agent Charlton also assured housewives and mothers that “fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, butter and pure, fresh milk are always obtainable.” In the late 19th Century, South Lake Tahoe was famous for its locally raised meat and dairy products.

Tour Lakeside Park
The sand, sun and fun of Lakeside Beach is accessed via Lakeshore Boulevard. An informational poster at the entrance claims that the Lakeside Park area was a favorite spot for Washo Indian love feasts or fandangos. There is a $10 admittance fee to the beach in the summer, but free the rest of the year.

At the west end of Lakeshore Boulevard is the Nick Sahati house, who, along with his brother, Eddie, owned the Stateline Country Club in the 1940s and 50s. In the late 1950s, Sahati sold his casino to Bill Harrah, now the site of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Harrah rented the Sahati house for its proximity to the beach, as did celebrities such as singer Cher and comedian Phyliss Diller

In the 1860s, the marina adjacent to Lakeside Beach to the west was once the popular Fish Market and Landing. Locally caught trout were sold to the nearby Stateline Hotel, owned by Capt. William Lapham. Capt. Lapham, along with Seneca Dean, a judge from Genoa, Nev., had built the Lake House Hotel in 1859, the first lakeside lodging in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Today, the Lakeside Marina offers boat rentals, jet skis, kayaks, beach toys, a launch and rides by water taxi.

Read Mark’s story on the Al Tahoe Historic Tour

Stroll by charming Doc’s Cottages on Stateline Avenue with the cutesy tourist cabins. Construction of the bungalows began in 1929; Vincent “Doc” Hughes bought the property in 1932. Hughes was a medic in World War I where he, like thousands of other medical corpsmen, acquired the popular nickname. He initially bought the property for family and friends in which to stay and then later rented some of the cabins calling it Doc’s Place.

It’s rumored that actors Clark Gable and Carol Lombard were frequent guests. The couple, who had a steamy, secret relationship until they officially married in 1939, were well known for their love of animals and the outdoors.

These are just a few of the 10 stops to explore on the Lakeside History Trail. Find details on each stop on the website. Look for the blue and white History Trail signs at each location to scan. |