I certainly think I can conjecture with accuracy the way it received its name. The trails in and out were first made and used by the wild animals—bear, deer, antelope, mountain lions, etc., then by the first Americans—the Indians, and at last, by the white man. Undoubtedly the first whites to come over the trails were miners from the Georgetown and Placerville districts, lured by the marvelous discoveries of the Comstock lode in Virginia City. Then in 1862-3 came the Squaw Valley stampede and this “strike” being so much nearer than the Comstock naturally attracted much attention, especially as the California mines of the Sierra Nevada were becoming less profitable. One of these old miners, whose language was more luridly picturesque than refined, on coming into the region or going out of it,—when he struck the rough, rugged, uncertain, rocky, and exceedingly steep grade, must have called it a “hell of a hole” to get into or out of, and in future references the name stuck until, at last, it was passed down to future ages on the maps of the U.S. Geological Survey as the true and correct name.
[Illustration: Angora Lake, near Lake Tahoe, Calif.]
[Illustration: GLENBROOK ON THE NEVADA SIDE OF LAKE TAHOE]
[Illustration: THE STEAMER TAHOE, AT THE WHARF, JUST BEFORE STARTING AROUND THE LAKE]
But if the reader thinks the name in the slightest degree characteristic of the place itself he never made a greater blunder. Instead, it is a paradise of delightful surprises. A large, fairly level area—hundreds of acres at least—through which runs the clear and pellucid waters of the Rubicon River on their way to join those of the American, and dotted all over with giant cedars, pines, firs and live oaks, with tiny secluded meadows, lush with richest grasses, it is a place to lure the city-dweller for a long and profitable vacation. Whether he hunts, fishes, botanizes, geologizes or merely loafs and invites his soul, it is equally fascinating, and he is a wise man who breaks loose from “Society”—spelled with either a capital or small letter—the bank, the office, the counting-house, the store, the warehouse, the mill, or the factory, and, with a genial companion or two, buries himself away from the outer world in this restful, peaceful, and God-blessed solitude.
When I first saw it I exclaimed: “Hell Hole? Then give me more of it,” and instead of hastening on to other places of well-known charm, I insisted upon one day at least of complete rest to allow its perfection to “seep in” and become a part of my intimate inner life of remembrance.