Extract from January Harper’s.—Mark Twain heard that the timber around Lake Bigler (Tahoe) promised vast wealth which could be had for the asking. He decided to locate a timber claim on its shores. He went to the Lake with a young Ohio lad, staked out a timber claim, and made a semblance of fencing it and of building a habitation, to comply with the law. They did not sleep in the house, of which Mark Twain says: “It never occurred to us for one thing, and besides, it was built to hold the ground, and that was enough. We did not wish to strain it.”
They lived by their camp-fire on the borders of the Lake and one day—it was just at nightfall—it got away from them, fired the Forest, and destroyed their fence and habitation. His picture of the superb night spectacle—the mighty mountain conflagration—is splendidly vivid.
“The level ranks of flame were relieved at intervals by the standard-bearers, as we called the tall dead trees, wrapped in fire, and waving their blazing banners a hundred feet in the air. Then we could turn from the scene to the Lake and see every branch and leaf, and cataract of flame upon its banks perfectly reflected, as in a gleaming, fiery mirror. The mighty roaring of the conflagration, together with our solitary and somewhat unsafe position (for there was no one within six miles of us), rendered the scene very impressive.”
AS IT WOULD BE NOW
Press Dispatch,—August 15, 1912.
MARK TWAIN FIRES FOREST! ! !
NOTED HUMORIST CHARGED BY
FOREST OFFICERS WITH CRIMINAL
Mark Twain and a friend from Ohio, who have been camping on Lake Tahoe, are responsible for a Forest fire which burned over about 200 acres before it was checked by Forest officers. The fire was sighted at 6 o’clock P.M. by one of the cooeperative patrolmen of the Crown Columbia Paper Company, who at once telephoned to the tender of the Launch ‘Ranger’ for help. Within an hour the launch was on the scene with a dozen men picked up at Tahoe City, and by 10 o’clock the fire was practically under control.
Twain and his friend were found spell-bound by the Rangers, at the impressiveness of the fire. After fighting it for several hours, however, its grandeur palled upon them, and at the present time they are considerably exercised inasmuch as it was ascertained that the fire was a result of their carelessness in leaving a camp-fire to burn unattended. It is extremely likely that the well-known humorist will find the penalty attendant to his carelessness, no “joking” matter.
To which I take the liberty of adding the following:
From the Nevada City Bulletin, Sept. 6, 1912.