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Sierra Stories

  • Dare to shoot the Flume

    By Mark McLaughlin on July 20, 2016
    Every summer, mountain bikers flock to Lake Tahoe’s East Shore, eager to ride the old Flume Trail. Littered with wooden planks from a 19th-Century water flume, this narrow pathway hugs the steep west slope of the Carson Range. It challenges the courage and endurance of adventuresome cyclists. Although a ride along the Flume Trail can stir the heart, the real […]
  • General Phipps: Intrepid Tahoe Pioneer

    By Mark McLaughlin on July 13, 2016
    Before pioneers and loggers of European descent first settled the Tahoe Basin in 1860, the forest was old-growth coniferous, dominated by stately sugar pine trees. Statuesque softwoods such as Jeffrey pine and sugar pine towered over a forest floor mostly devoid of thick vegetation or dense stands of timber. General Phipps’s cabin at Sugar Pine Park. | Mark McLaughlin Early […]
  • Brockway’s Picnic Rock: Stellar views & history

    By Mark McLaughlin on July 6, 2016
    One popular and accessible Tahoe hike or mountain bike ride is a segment of the Tahoe Rim Trail that starts on the east side of Highway 267 just south of Brockway Summit. The short trip to Picnic Rock is a little more than 1.5 miles, but must be considered moderately difficult since virtually every step is uphill. The ascent is […]
  • Winter 2016: Did El Niño match the hype?

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 29, 2016
      Media headlines began popping up in the early summer of 2015: “El Niño is coming!” “Look out for the most powerful El Niño in history!” “Southern California better batten down the hatches!” It was enough to make one run for the hills; to the Tahoe Sierra, that is, where a blockbuster winter was seemingly guaranteed. After four dry winters, […]
  • June 1969: Rare Summer Flood on Truckee River

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 22, 2016
    It may not seem like it during our region’s current drought, but the Truckee River is one of the most volatile waterways in California and Nevada, prone to flood about every nine years. The most recent significant flood event was in January 2006, so the statistical clock is ticking. Considering our current situation, a major flood on the Truckee doesn’t […]
  • Crazy Sutro: Engineer with tunnel vision

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 15, 2016
      They called him crazy, but he contributed significantly to the success of the early West. In San Francisco, the name Adolph Sutro stirs memories of the spectacular Sutro Heights, Cliff House Restaurant and the cavernous Sutro Baths. But in the silver mining lore of Virginia City, Nev., Sutro is associated with the Comstock Lode’s famed Sutro Tunnel, a 19th-century […]
  • Ghosts of Gold Hill

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 8, 2016
    For most of the Comstock era (1860s to1880s), the towns of Gold Hill and Virginia City, Nev., were friendly rivals competing in prodigious ore production. Both cities were built on top of the great silver lode in western Nevada that created all the excitement. But once the mines went into decline in the latter part of the 19th Century and […]
  • Time warp for the Iron Horse

    By Mark McLaughlin on June 1, 2016
    The historical character and function of Truckee owes much to its location along the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Logging, ice harvesting, winter sports and tourism have long played a vital role in the region’s economy. For more than a century, Truckee has been considered the “Gateway to the Sierra” and a vital link to North Lake Tahoe. In 1914, May […]
  • Nevada’s Fight of the Century, Part II

    By Mark McLaughlin on May 25, 2016
    Nevada boxing promoters proclaimed it the “fight of the century.” The highly publicized 1897 bout between America’s heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett from San Francisco and lanky, British-born but hailing from Australia, challenger Robert Fitzsimmons, promised to produce an economic boost to the Reno-Carson City communities. Pugilist Bob Fitzsimmons won the 1897 Carson City fight. | Courtesy Nevada Historical Society […]
  • Fight of the Century, Part I  

    By Mark McLaughlin on May 11, 2016
    Nevada boxing promoters proclaimed it the “Fight of the Century.” The highly touted 1897 bout between America’s reigning heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, and lanky Australian challenger Robert Fitzsimmons promised to bring a much-needed economic boost to the Reno and Carson City economies. Both communities were suffering from a 20-year financial depression due to the decline of Virginia City’s Comstock […]