Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Early names for Lake Tahoe: Mountain Lake, Lake Bigler, Lake Bonpland

The name of Lake Tahoe derives from the word the Washoe Indians used to name the lake: da ow a ga. Walking the Eagle Trail Loop near the Upper Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay at the southwestern part of Lake Tahoe in California, you can find an interpretative board that mentions a few other names the lake had, before it became the well-known tourist destination it is today: When Lieutenant John Charles Frémont (see A common place-name of the West: Fremont) and Charles Preuss sighted the lake from a ridge near Carson pass on Valentine's Day, 1844, while attempting a winter crossing of the Sierra Nevada (all still Mexican territory then), they originally named it Lake Bonpland, although early maps also reflect the name Mountain Lake. At high elevation, located between Californian mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range of Nevada, the latter was an appropriate name for this alpine lake. However, in 1852 the California legislature renamed it to Lake Bigler, after John Bigler, the 3rd governor of California. After 1860, the Washoe-language-based name, Tahoe, became popular and Lake Tahoe has since resisted any further name changes.

Keywords: history, geography, place-name origins, place-name synonyms

No comments:

Post a Comment