Friday, July 10, 2009

Lake Tahoe Museum gets make-over

6/09 tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

It was definitely more than a typical spring cleaning.
Lake Tahoe Historical Museum is like a brand new facility thanks to the countless hours historical society volunteers put in as well as the couple thousand hours of work provided by members of local Carpenters Union 1789.
Work started in January on the building next to the senior center in South Lake Tahoe. Artifacts were stored for safe keeping. Inventory was taken.
By April the mostly female museum crew began tearing down walls.
The goal was to have new flooring, walls and refurbished exhibits in place for when the museum opened its doors Memorial Day weekend. And most of it was.
But it wouldn’t have been ready for the public without those eight carpenters (Roger Thomas, Robert Samorano, Chad Brunyan, Henry Smart, Blaine Johnson, Paul Monio, Leo Collins and Tom Guziejka) who donated their time and tools to restore apart of Lake Tahoe’s history for generations to come.
Peggy Bourland, Diane Johnson and Lynne Bajuk are three of the major players at the museum. Walk in and one of them is likely to be working – for free. It’s the work of volunteers that has kept this often overlooked gem of the South Shore humming along since 1968.
Walking through the old building is like walking back in history – only now the floor is new, the walls are refurbished, paint is fresh and lighting is better. It had been more than a quarter century since significant improvements had been made.
“We will add what was not out on the floor before,” Johnson said. “We will increase storytelling – the story of Tahoe.”
The Celio Ranch exhibit remains the largest display. A bit of the old dairy farm is there for all to see. A four-page handout tells how the family first arrived in the Lake Valley area in 1857.
Exhibits will rotate. Before now things had been rather static. Plus, with the carpenters’ assistance, rolling platforms were built to more easily move pieces.
An exhibit on camping is planned. In the late 1800s and early 1900s men wore ties and women dresses around the campfire.
Computer software that the Smithsonian uses has been installed to help categorize items. Everything that can be scanned will be so the history is in digital format. This also allows the public easier access to Tahoe’s history. A website is in the works.
Movies play on the new flat screen television, giving visitors a deeper experience.
The bookstore has been expanded to include works about Tahoe as well as Bodie, Nevada, Placerville and other nearby towns.
With donations continually rolling in, showcasing more items will be easy to do.
On May 23 the museum received a call from a couple who had bought the Evans’ log cabin on Tamarack Avenue in the Bijou area. That cabin was built with logs from the Baldwin Estate cabins at Fallen Leaf Lake that were disassembled by the U.S. Forest Service.
The new owners brought in hats from the 1940s, a notebook the museum hopes to return to the family, Owen Evans’ uniform from the Forest Service and other relics of days gone by. Evans died in December. His widow, Esther, still lives in South Lake.
Lake Tahoe Museum has information going back to when the Washoe were the predominant residents. The Lake’s rich boating history is told through artifacts and on film. Old lodging establishments like the Tallac Hotel come to life. Sterling silver from the era shines in glass cases.
What the museum group wants is to expand on the region’s political history, the notorious winter of 1952, the airport, churches, schools, the environment, clear cutting – Tahoe’s story. More on Snowshoe Thompson is planned. The museum has an original letter of his.
An August celebration is planned to mark the 150th anniversary of Osgood’s Toll House, which has been placed behind the museum. Originally it was located at what is known today as North Upper Truckee Road and Highway 50. Nemi Osgood charged 5 cents per animal and a fluctuating rate for people to pass his gate.
This summer the museum is free. Another goal is to be open year-round. For more information, call (530) 541-5458.

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