The Gatekeeper's Cabin Museum, situated among ancient conifers on the south bank of Lake Tahoe's only outlet, was built in 1981 with funds raised by the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. Built by Art Thiede in the Canadian scribing method, the hand carved log cabin is built from Lodgepole Pines. It stands on the same foundation as the original Gatekeeper's Cabin, which was destroyed by fire in 1978.
The original log cabin, built sometime between 1910 and 1916, served as the home of the resident gatekeeper, whose duties included the measuring and regulation of Tahoe's water level within legally prescribed limits. Between 1910 and 1968, five different men are known to have held the position of gatekeeper, each one in turn occupying the cabin while carrying out the duties of the position.
In 1986, the decision to raise or lower Tahoe's water level became the province of the Federal Watermaster's Office in Reno, though the physical process of raising and lowering the gates of the dam continue to be carried out onsite, using the same hand-turned winch system employed by the original Gatekeeper.
The concrete dam which exists at the Lake Outlet today was not the first effort to regulate the flow of water down the Truckee River. As early as 1870, a log crib structure several miles downstream of the outlet was built by one Colonel Alexis Von Scmidt, with the purpose of raising a head of water sufficient to flush logs down the river to Truckee mills. Von Schmidt was also author of an unsuccessful scheme to divert water from the river through a tunnel bored beneath Donner Summit, connecting with a pipeline by which he proposed to supply water to the City of San Francisco.
A second timber dam, built nearer the outlet was intended as a means of regulating the level of Tahoe, but proved inadequate in the face record high water in 1907. By 1909 it was partially removed, a new concrete dam being half completed. The new dam was finished in 1913, its completion postponed by a lengthy court battle over the proper jurisdiction of the water. The concrete dam originally included only nine gates, but was subsequently extended to 17 gates, the number it has today.
The museum features the history of Lake Tahoe, including indian artifacts, natural history displays, stories of our pioneers, a book and photographic library, and Lake Tahoe's vintage newspapers. Revolving displays are presented each summer from private collections.
Open April 30- Sept 28, 2003
April 30 - June 15 Wed-Sun 11am-5pm
June 15 - September 28 Open daily 11am-5pm
Open October 2003 - April 2004
Membership is open to everyone who pays a tax-deductible annual fee. Your membership and donations are the entire support of the society, museum and park. Your membership enables the society to preserve historic buildings in the area.
Shop our Tahoe Country Store Online
Or visit our store in Heavenly Village, South Lake Tahoe. (map)