Frances Humphrey Lecture Series: Lake Tahoe’s Railroads by Stephen E. Drew

Stephen E. Drew

In the 1870s, the Nevada Comstock Lode created an insatiable appetite for Lake Tahoe's virgin pine forests. The timbers would shore up underground mining and build communities approaching 40,000 inhabitants. Railroads on three shores delivered the logs lakeside, where they were towed by steam-powered tugs to sawmills, to lumber flumes, and again by rail to their final destinations. As the mines and giant lake pines subsided, railroads pushed farther north after 1898 into new timber stands in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River basins. Other rail lines were sold, barged across the lake, and repurposed for the burgeoning new industry of tourism. For the next 40 years, railroads marketed Lake Tahoe as their unique scenic destination.

Stephen E. Drew has been researching railroads of the Comstock and Lake Tahoe region for 45 years. He recently retired after 35 years as chief curator of the California State Railroad Museum. He is the author of Nevada's Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Arcadias Images of Rail series. His images are drawn from obscure archives and prized family photo albums.

Cost: $8 for adults; free for museum members and ages 17 and under.

Contact: Bob Nylen: 775-687-4810, at ext. 245.

Seating is limited, to reserve your seat, please call Mary W. Covington at ext. 224 or email