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Stories from the valley

Tallac Historic Site: Revisited

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

The Tallac Historic Site on Highway 89 just north of South Lake Tahoe provides a wonderful escape from the heat in the valley. Overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and the Tahoe Heritage Foundtation, Tallac is a unique place to step back in time while enjoying the special beauty of the lake.

In the early twentieth century, several families of means found the south shore of Lake Tahoe to be a particularly attractive place to spend the summer. This was the site of the notorious Elias “Lucky” Baldwin’s resort, which was later removed by his daughter because she felt it didn’t fit in the pristine environment of the lake. Anita then built her own summer lodge nearby.

You’ll find the Pope and Heller estates close by. They date from roughly the same period as the Baldwin Estate and include the mansions, staff housing, boathouses, and beautiful gardens and grounds.

The entire area is open to visitors. The buildings have been restored and contain exhibits from the time period. There are other exhibits and real-life demonstrations around the site.

The Baldwin House, a free museum, offers insights into the history of the area and life in the 1920’s. A tour of the Pope House and staff quarters provides a great experience in viewing life at the turn of the twentieth century. The Valhalla Lodge (Heller Estate) sits at the back of a beautiful grassy area dotted with mature pines and is available to rent for special occasions.

To get to the Tallac Historic Site, take Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe. Then follow Highway 89 north along the west side of the lake. The entrance is just past Camp Richardson. For more information go here, where you will find a full list of activities for the season.

It’s best to arrive at the Tallac Historic Site by 10 a.m. in order to find parking, which, along with admission to the grounds, is free. Have a good time escaping to the past and enjoying a cool day on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe.