- 1844 -
John Fremont sighted Lake Tahoe while leading the U.S. Army's first
official exploratory expedition across the Sierra Nevada and into
California. His journals brought Tahoe to the attention of the western
1850 - Rubicon Springs probably discovered
by early day trappers, explorers, and survey parties traveling the
Georgetown-Lake Bigler Indian trail.
1853 - John Calhoun "cock-eyed" Johnson and
an anonymous Placerville Herald correspondent broke trail from Hangtown
(Placerville) up the Rubicon Gorges south to Lost Corner dropping down
to Meeks Canyon to the creek, then bay. They were met by a band of 70
friendly Digger Indians (probably Washoe). The bay was filled with
speckled trout. The Indians told them tales of how Lake Tahoe was
formed. They added these to their own upon returning to Placerville.
1859 - The first bridge to cross the river
at this site was built of logs.
1860 - General William Phipps staked out a
160 acre homestead on Sugar Pine Point. He was one of the first known
permanent residents of Lake Tahoe.
There was a logging camp at Sugar Pine Point for awhile which explains
the lack of sugar pines in the area. Phipps protected his 160 acre
homestead from the saw.
1861 - John McKinney and John Wren, both
Georgetown pioneers, established a hay ranch on the summit of Burton's
Pass (adjoining the El Dorado - Placer County lines.)
1862 - John Mc Kinney moved to the lake at
Burton Creek's outlet.
Burton and Company cut 75 tons of wild hay from meadowland flanking
Burton's Creek and shipped to South Tahoe.
Stephen and Joseph Meek (Meeks and Co.) cut 25 tons of wild hay from
surrounding flatlands of Meeks Bay.
1863 - McKinney established Hunter's
Retreat (log cabin, tents, sapling pier & 3 fishing boats.)
1864 - The first cabin was built by a black
trapper and trader. It was a favorite stopping point for travelers,
loggers and trappers traveling the Rubicon Trail. Today it is a popular
place for four-wheelers and other recreationists to stop and rest.
1867 - Upson Bay (McKinney's) received 8ft
of snow in 12 hours
Agustus Colwell bought 900 acres lakeshore property, from McKinney's
property line at Burton's Creek 1 1/4 miles east to Sugar Pine Point.
He built a steam powered sawmill near the future site of Moana Villa.
John and George Hunsucker (miners from Kelsey, E D County, felled pine
trees and built their cabin south of Rubicon Springs (taking credit for
their discovery), bordering on Rubicon River. Their cabin was at the
foot of Rubicon's frowning granite gorge. It was the log cabin that
evolved into what was known as Rubicon Soda Springs Resort.
1869 - McKinney's Retreat comprised 160
acres (13 lakefront), catering to Nevada's mining nabobs for hunting
1875 - McKinney built the boathouse on the
wharf used as a clubhouse and bar.
1877 - Colwell closed his sawmill and began
selling property, holding only the land adjoining McKinney's.
The Hunsuckers had added outlying shacks and a pine corral for their
stock at Rubicon Springs. Word was that the hunting was excellent
(thousands of mule-tail deer were slaughtered and the hides packed down
to Lower Hell Hole)
1878 - George Thomas and James Andrew
Murphy, winter residents of Coloma and native Californians, settled at
Meeks Bay. They enter the cattle business, herding their milk cows from
Coloma to Meeks bay in the summer. They saved to buy the land from the
Central Pacific (who had acquired it through an extensive railroad
grant.) A few days before the sale was to take place, Duane L. Bliss
bought the land, representing Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming
Company. Bliss promised the Murphy brothers that they could buy the
land for the original price after it had been logged.
1880 - The Hunsuckers began bottling spring
water and selling it at Georgetown and McKinney's. They had a hard time
supplying the demand. Health seekers from Nevada were now beginning to
come to Rubicon Springs.
1884 - the Murphys bought the Meeks Bay land
for $250 in gold eagles.
1886 - Mrs. Sierra Phillips Clark, "Vade",
(daughter of Joseph W. D. Phillips who owned Phillips Station on
Johnson Pass road) bought the Rubicon Springs from the Hunsuckers and
added Potter's Springs 1 mile away - beginning the RESORT. She got El
Dorado County to make the trail from McKinney's over Burton's Pass to
Rubicon into a one-way road
1888 - Phipps sold his property to W. W.
"Billy" Lapham who opened a resort and called it "Bellevue" (French for
Beautiful View). Rooms cost $2.50 per night.
1889 - Vade built a 2 1/2 story hotel at the
Springs, with curtained glass windows, 16 small rooms and a parlor with
horsehair furniture and a foot-pedal organ. She used white linens and
polished silverware to serve 3 meals per days (sometimes 100 people).
On busy weekends, visitors slept in tent, cabins, or under the stars.
She also put in service a 4 horse six passager coach to McKinney's. It
took 2 1/2 hrs to cover the 9 miles.
1892 - The Murphy bothers (from Meeks Bay)
along with their sister Frances' husband, Luke Morgan, from Georgetown,
leased McKinney's Resort from the Westhoff family. The Indians also
relocated to McKinney's living off the tourists. For 25 cents they were
given community meals (left overs from the tourists meals.)
1893 - A fire destroyed the Bellevue.
1894 - Colwell's oldest son, Ralphy Lewis C.
built the Moana Villa in a dense grove of yellow pine his father had
left uncut. (2 1/2 story lodge, cottages, tents, clubhouse over the
water, 500 ft pier for steamer landing - a bathing house next to the
white fence dividing his property from McKinney's)
1897 - Isaias W. Hellman, a San Francisco
financier, purchased the property where the Bellevue had stood.
1901- Hellman built a large mansion for a
Vade Clark (now Bryson) sold Rubicon Springs to Daniel Abbott who
replaced the friendly signs with "Enter at your own peril"
1904 - Vade leased the Springs from Abbott
for 4 years.
1908 - May Ralph Colwell of Moana bought the
Springs. Vade left for good.
October flash floods caused the Rubicon River to rise 8 feet overnight
with mud and water rushing through the Rubicon Springs barn and nearly
ripping the hotel and outbuildings off their foundations. One of the
resorts best horses "Mike" drowned and floated down the river. (someone
guessing he'd end up at Hell Hole, 9 miles down the gorge)
1909 - Colwell bought the Rubicon Springs
Resort, combining Moana with a health resort. He was assisted by 3 sons
to run the 2 resorts.
1910 - Frank Pomin leased the Moana for 3
years so the Colwell brothers could focus on the springs.
1913 - Pomin built a lodge on a knoll to
the east of Tahoma.( a large rustic-finished resort hotel with cottages)
1916 - Joseph Bishop, a San Francisco
chimney sweep,and Colwell's brother-in-law, bought a parcel between the
Moana and Pomin's. He built a hotel and cottages and called the resort
Tahoma meaning "Home Away from Home"
1920 - Mr. Hellman died and his daughter,
Florence Ehrman, inherited his estate.
Tahoma Resort was leased to Mr. and Mrs. John J. Planett for 2 seasons.
>From 1922-26 Tahoma see sawed between the Planetts and Bishop.
- Rubicon Springs began losing its appeal as a resort.
1925 - Tahoe Cedars track was developed by
H. L. Henry, who intended to start a motion picture colony here. It
included extensive 2nd growth forest south across the Tahoma Resort
bounding the property of Richard Kirman and I. W. Hellman. The
subdivision included nearly 1,000 lots: streets were laid out, powers
lines run, and a water system installed. Some of the original property
owners were: Lon Chaney, Lina Basquette, Ernest Belcher, the ballet
master, and writer Francis Rawling Illes.
1926 - Frank Swind from LA bought the
Tahoma and hired Marcel Maes to run it. It now had a dance hall, dining
room, rocked-in swimming pool built out to the lake and a renovated 2
story hotel plus cottages and tents. (during the 30's, it passed
through the hands of several owners.
1927 - May 8th the winter residents of the
West Shore joined hand to hand to shovel from Tahoma to Tahoe City
(including Frank Pomin, Albert and George Colwell......)
Tahoe Cedars property was sold to disciples from around the world, of
Aimee Semple McPherson in the Four Square Gospel (Angelus Temple).
Sixty lots were designated to be campgrounds for the followers who
could not afford to buy land.
Dispute between Aimee and her mother caused plans for the Four Square
Gospel settlement to dissolve.
H. L. Henry repossessed the property and began selling to the public.
1930 - Colwell sold Rubicon Springs to the
Sierra Power Company.
1930's David Chambers bought Moana Villa
from the Colwell's, adding it to their resort.
1939 - El Dorado County replaced the bridge.
1947 - A steel bridge was constructed by the
1952 - several residents of Georgetown held
a meeting to discuss the possibility of an organized jeep tour from
Georgetown to Lake Tahoe, via the Rubicon Trail. On August 29, 1953, 55
jeeps with 155 enthusiastic participants left Georgetown on a two day
trip that is now known as "Jeepers Jamboree 1." The last weekend of
July each year, four-wheelers follow the tradition of these "pioneers."
1960 - The nordic ski events of the Olympics
were held over a period of seven days in Tahoma.
1960's - a summer camp for troubled boys
was built with recycled wood from a Tahoe City building that had been
taken down (between 6th & 7th and Fir & Alder)
1965 - the State of California purchased
the Ehrman property from Esther Lazard (Mrs. Ehrman's daughter. Some
furnishings were auctioned off by Butterfield & Butterfield that
1970's - The California Association of
4-Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC) begins working closely with the U.S.
Forest Service, Placer County, and the Lahontan Water Control Board on
issues surrounding the McKinney-Rubicon Road in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The goal of this collaborative efforts to insure recreational access
and to protect the water quality of Lake Tahoe.
1980's - Planning for a basin-wide effort to
improve the water quality entering Lake Tahoe included water shed
improvements along the McKinney-Rubicon Road. These improvements were
funded by State of California Bond Acts, OHV Trust Fund dollars
(Greensticker funds as some of us refer to it) as well as Placer
County. The improvements along this route included the construction of
rolling dips, water bars, rock-lined ditches, sediment basins, hardened
water crossings, and rockwork structures as well as the bridge over
McKinney Creek just below the staging area. These improvements remove
sediment and decrease vehicle interaction with watercourses. As a
provision of receiving the funding, Placer County agreed to maintain
these improvements for a minimum twenty-year period (1986-2006).
1982 - Bridge refurbished through the
efforts of several volunteers and four-wheel drive clubs.
1990's Lahontan Water Quality Control Board
(who have authority over all water quality issues in the Tahoe Basin)
became concerned with the deterioration and lack of maintenance of
these water quality improvements. Funded by the OHV Trust Fund, Placer
County, and federal monies applied for and received by CA4WDC, the
county embarked on the maintenance of these improvements. Additionally
there were concerns from private property owners about tow vehicle
parking, and people doing "highway readiness" activities in the
Homewood subdivision. There were also concerns from the OHV community
about the accessibility and safety of the staging area located one mile
in on the route. It was determined that the best course of action was
to pave the route from the subdivision to the staging area and handle
all run-off using culverts under the roadway. This process took two
years which included the maintenance and/or reconstruction of all the
improvements between the staging area and the rim of the basin.
1997 - Bridge refurbished through the
efforts of CA4WDC and several four-wheel drive clubs and individuals.
2000 - Placer County received a letter in
December 2000 from Lahontan Water Control Board of Notice of Violation
of Cease and Desist Order Against Placer County for Discharging and
Threatening to Discharge Wastes From the McKinney Springs Road to
McKinney Creek. Placer County was thereby put on notice that Lahontan
Water Quality Control Board feels that Placer County has not performed
its duty as rendered to ease the run-off and sedimentation off the
route and has required Placer County to address these issues. A fine of
$10,000 per day was threatened. Initial plans/alternatives were
developed, one of which was a gate.
2001 - Del Albright forms Friends of the
Rubicon (FOTR), with the help of the Pirates of the Rubicon, BlueRibbon
Coalition, CA4WDC, CORVA, AMA, United FWDA and several individuals who
had heard about the gate option. FOTR is an informal coalition of
groups and individuals dedicated to keeping the Rubicon Trail open and
available to all recreationists. Working with Placer County, El Dorado
County, the USFS, private businesses, many organized recreation groups,
and other land management agencies to ensure our famed Rubicon Trail
remains as one of our crown jewels of motorized and mechanized
recreation. Del was elected to the position of Trail Boss, FOTR.
2001 - FOTR conducts several work days and
work weekends to repair the McKinney section of the road (Placer
County) in complete cooperation with the county, USFS, and several
Tahoe Basin control agencies. Rebecca Bond, Placer County Road
Engineering leads the efforts as Incident Commander, McKinney/Rubicon
Road Drainage Repair Incident.
- Friends of the Rubicon, Mark Langford organizes a clean up, repair
and drainage of swampy areas below and above Walker Hill. This was
organized to keep users from going off the trail to bypass the mud