By Tim Hauserman
Tucked away just behind Fanny Bridge and the Lake Tahoe dam is one of Tahoe City’s hidden gem’s that is well worth a visit: The William B. Layton Park and Gatekeepers Museum. In the not too distant past, this three acre parcel was where the gatekeeper resided while carrying out his duties. Now, it houses the Gatekeeper Museum, parking and restroom facilities, and a lovely bit of forested land where the river meets the lake.
The Gatekeepers Museum holds an extensive collection of Lake Tahoe history, maps and memorabilia, as well as a bookstore focused on all things Tahoe. It includes a research library containing a large newspaper collection, historical photographs and artifacts. Several years ago the museum added the exhibit: Ursus among us: Black Bears, which tells the story of our local bears.
The highlight of the museum, however, is the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum. It contains over 800 of the finest baskets ever produced by Native American basketweavers. The craftsmanship is extraordinary, and the collection includes many works of art by local Washoe tribe members including the famous Dat So La Le.
Along the lakeshore, the peaceful grounds holds picnic benches and tables, a short nature trail, and perhaps the world’s largest carpenter ant mound. This area is available for rental, and is a popular setting for summer weddings. Near the dam, a series of interpretative panels sits next to a large grouping of picnic benches overlooking the Truckee River. Behind the dam, a wooden walkway provides access to information on the dam’s operation, as well as a connection to the bike trail which leads along the lakeshore through the rest of Tahoe City. Be sure to take the time at the dam to review the fascinating chart showing Lake Tahoe’s lake level fluctuations over the past 100 years.
The Gatekeepers Museum and William B. Layton Park is located at 130 West Lake. Blvd, across Highway 89 from The Bridgetender.
Information: www.northtahoemuseums.org or call (530) 583-1762.