Tahoe Maritime Museum – Understanding Lake Tahoe’s Rich Maritime History

Although I have had the pleasure of attending the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance very year since 2005, for some reason I have never taken the time to make the short 15 minute drive down to Homewood to visit the Tahoe Maritime Museum. So this year I made a point of stopping in at the museum the Monday after the South Lake Tahoe boat show – and I’m glad I did.

The Tahoe Maritime Museum’s web site best describes the museum this way…

Located on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Maritime Museum’s mission is to stimulate an interest in and an understanding of Lake Tahoe’s maritime history through the highest standards of historic preservation, innovative interpretation and public education.

Currently in the museum, they feature a wonderful exhibit dedicated to Gar Wood the man and his boats, and the unique historical connection the Gar Wood marque had with Lake Tahoe back in the 1920’s & 1930’s.

Among the Gar Wood boats on display in the museum was “Miss Tahoe” an elegant 1939 28′ Custom Runabout, which is also the sister boat to “Truant II”. “Miss Tahoe” will be making her only appearance on the water this summer for the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance at the Sierra Boat Company, August 12 & 13.  Here’s a brief description of “Miss Tahoe” from the museum.

Gar Wood boats are the Marque Class at this years 39th Annual Lake Tahoe Concours, to see more about the event as well as the complete list of boats registered for the show this year, just click here to go the Concours web site.

Here’s a nice image of “Miss Tahoe” gliding along, at home on Lake Tahoe.

Photo Courtesy of the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation and h2omark.com

Another amazing Gar Wood on display at the museum is “Lemme Go First” a 1929 28′ Baby Gar 40 Runabout.

And if you feel the need to take a classic boat ride while you are at the Tahoe Maritime Museum and you have 25 Cents, hop aboard, plug the quarter in the machine and hang on!

Actually, if you are interested in going for a real vintage boat ride aboard a very special Lake Tahoe boat, “White Smoke” debuts as the Museum Ride Boat at this year’s Lake Tahoe Concours. “White Smoke” is a 30′ Triple Cockpit Sea Lyon built in 1930 for lumber and shipping baron George A. Pope Sr. for use at his summer hide-away on Lake Tahoe’s south shore. The Pope mansion / property was commonly referred to as “The Vatican”, thus the name “White Smoke”.

She was graciously donated to the Tahoe Maritime Museum in 2009 by Howard & Judy Guild. We had an opportunity to see the freshly restored “White Smoke” at the South Lake Tahoe boat show last weekend, and it is simply stunning.

If you are planning to be in the Lake Tahoe area for this year’s Concours, or during the summer, stop by and check out the Tahoe Maritime Museum, it’s a wonderful, educational experience. You can go directly to the museum web site by clicking here, and there is also a great story on Gar Wood in one of the museum’s recent Newsletters titled “Gar Wood – More than a boat maker.”  you can see that story by clicking here.

Stay tuned to Woody Boater for more stories from Lake Tahoe, the Concours and the Gathering of the Gar Woods the Monday after the Concours. We will be there for the entire “Wing Ding”…


8 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    Interesting that a picture of WoodyGal garnered 10 comments yet todays museum piece only gets 1. Absolutely no reflection on Texx’s reporting skills. Obviously we need some pics of WoodyBabes interspersed to get peoples attention. Love the story behind the name for White Smoke.

  2. Chuck Crosby
    Chuck Crosby says:

    Thanks for the nice article about the Tahoe Maritime Museum. It’s well worth a visit if you are in the Tahoe Basin.

    A little known fact, the Tahoe Maritime Museum has a warehouse in Truckee, about ten miles north of Tahoe City, and opens it for tours a couple of times each year. The warehouse contains an addition 10-15 boats and many other exhibits that they don’t have sufficient display space at the Homewood location.

  3. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Texx, Thanks for the great report on the museum and the stories about the Gar Woods . Lake Tahoe is beautiful to view from the roads. I once drove completely around the lake but have never been on or in it. It was my first and only time to be in California.

    The Show is definitely on my bucket list. If or when we go, a visit to the museum will be included.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    It is rather sad that a fine BOAT like Miss Tahoe is locked inside 364 days a year and only allowed on the water for the Concours show, durring which she will likely remain chained to the dock. I am fairly certain that is NOT what Garwood built her for.

    • Brian Robinson
      Brian Robinson says:

      m-fine, Miss Tahoe is the Museums number one ride boat, they just decided to give her a well deserved break this year. I assure you, that boat has more hours on it than 99% of classic boats out there. It has never missed a single summer since 1939. It is still all original wood.

  5. Jesse Siess Hadley
    Jesse Siess Hadley says:

    Thank you so much for this nice piece on our museum! We are very glad that you enjoyed it and hope you come back. As for the boats in the water, a key thing to remember is they are now artifacts and Miss Tahoe gets more attention than ever being in the museum! She inspires so many people and serves as a great teaching tool to share the history of lake Tahoe with visitors…once a boat becomes part of the museum collection they become ambassador of our rich maritime history that can be shared either on land or in the water.
    Look forward to seeing you all soon!

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