What’s in a name anyway?

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

Let’s play the name game. Tahoe style!

Come lay by the majestic shores of Lake Bonpland, I mean Fremont Lake, no wait it’s Mountain Lake, never mind I meant to say Lake Bigler, hmm my map says Lake Tahoe, not so fast it’s still Lake Bigler.

Mark Twain be dammed it will always be Lake Tahoe to me. For Tahoe Tuesday here is a timeline of the many names of Lake Tahoe.

📌 1844 - John C. Freemont “discovers” Lake Tahoe and names is Lake Bonpland (after the famous French Botanist).

📌 1853 - The name didn’t stick and people to start calling it Fremont Lake

📌 1854- The name Mountain Lake started popping up on maps (a common place name for lakes that were otherwise nameless at the time)

📌 1854 - that same year the name was changed to Lake Bigler. After the California governor.

📌 1861 - Governor Bigler fell out of favor and the locals were calling for a name change.

📌 1862 - maps were being produced with either Fremont Lake, Mountain Lake or Lake Bigler. At the urge of the State Cartographer for map consistency the name was changed on all Federal maps to Tahoe.

📌 1864 - The name Tahoe was not a popular one either. Mark Twain started on a personal mission to make sure the name Tahoe didn’t stick. In defense of the name Bigler he wrote "the legitimate name of the Lake, and it will be retained until some name less flat, insipid and spooney than "Tahoe" is invented for it."

📌1869 - In his best selling travel book “Innocents Abroad” he did further damage to the name by comparing it to “grass hopper soup”.

📌 1870. Twain won his battle and the California State government released a press announcement stating the name was indeed Lake Bigler and they were not going to follow the federal governments recommendation of Tahoe.

📌 1871-1945 - the only problem was the official federal maps as well as the locals continued to call it Tahoe and over the next 70 years the name Bigler was gradually phased out and Tahoe prevailed.

📌 1945 - Tahoe went without an “official” name for almost 100 years. Despite the fact the federal maps as well as locals insisted it be Tahoe in 1945 the California government officially reversed the1870 decree and finally christened our beautiful lake “Tahoe”.

Which name do you prefer?

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