These Beautiful Lake Tahoe Destinations are Home to Friendly Ghosts
Between Lake Tahoe’s otherworldly beauty and its storied past, reports of supernatural sights, sounds, and even smells are no surprise. These aren’t your typical ghosts, though. Turns out, specters in one of the most beautiful, relaxing places in the country take a more laid-back approach to haunting. In fact, some of Tahoe’s ghosts are almost as pleasant as the scenery.
Best Haunted Attractions in Lake Tahoe
More than 2 million visitors flock to Lake Tahoe each year for the world-class recreation and pristine natural beauty, satisfying adventure seekers and relaxation enthusiasts alike. In fact, this vacation destination is so perfect, you may consider moving in over going home. Tahoe’s blue-green water, snow-capped peaks, and thick, Alpine forests make it truly difficult to leave. Apparently, even in death.
Emerald Bay, a scenic inlet on the lake’s west shore, is often called the crown jewel of Tahoe. It offers unmatched panoramic views and is one of the most photographed places in the world. The bay is a highlight for tourists and South Lake Tahoe locals alike and was even designated a National Natural Landmark in 1969.
Legend has it the bay is haunted by Captain Dick Barter, a retired British seaman who made his home along the shore in the late 1800s. Captain Dick was a colorful character best known for sawing off his frostbitten toes after capsizing and nearly drowning in the freezing lake. He kept the preserved toes in a jewelry box, pulling them out when retelling the story to local journalists.
After his near-death experience, the captain constructed his own burial chamber within the bay. His handiwork may have foreshadowed his untimely death, however, as he set sail for the last time in 1873. Locals found his sailboat smashed against the rocky shore, but a body was never recovered.
Today, visitors swear they see the ghost of Captain Dick rising from the water on cold, foggy evenings. Surprisingly, he doesn’t seem interested in scaring observers. Perhaps he’s searching for his final resting place, or maybe he’s looking for his jewelry box, hoping to regale the public with his story one last time.
Vikingsholm is an elaborate mansion on the shores of Emerald Bay, also known as “Tahoe’s Hidden Castle.” The home was designed to complement the area’s natural splendor and is still regarded as one of the west’s finest examples of Scandinavian architecture. The intricate mansion boasts hand-crafted details and local wood and granite materials. Completed in 1929, Vikingsholm inspired many nearby South Lake Tahoe estates.
The castle was commissioned by a kind and worldly businesswoman named Lora Knight. Lora likened Emerald Bay to the fjords of Scandinavia, designing her dream home around the lake’s natural beauty. She spent 15 restful summers at Vikingsholm before peacefully passing away, leaving each employee $1,000 for each year they worked for her.
Today, park rangers patrolling the grounds report the overwhelming scent of cinnamon toast, Lora’s favorite breakfast food. Perhaps she’s still caring for her employees, or perhaps she can’t bear to miss a summer at her beloved castle. Either way, cinnamon toast sounds like a truly pleasant haunting.
Just north of Emerald Bay lies Tahoma, California’s Sugar Pine Point State Park, known for its peaceful campsites, quiet beaches, and the tallest pine trees in the world. The State Park is also home to the Hellman-Ehrman mansion, constructed in 1903. The home was equipped with the most up-to-date utility systems and includes electric lights, indoor plumbing and even an elevator. Now a state-owned museum, the mansion illustrates the history of lake-side summer retreats in Tahoma.
Sidney and Florence Hellman-Ehrman summered in the mansion through the mid-1900s, treating their many guests to boating, hiking, and fishing excursions. The Hellman-Ehrmans were well-known as kind people looking to escape city life. Family and friends shared afternoons on the tennis court and evenings by the fireplace until Florence and Sidney passed away without incident in 1964 and 1975, respectively.
So, it makes sense that the mansion’s ghosts seek rest and relaxation. Overnight crews often report an indention in Sidney Ehrman’s bed and the calm swaying of an empty rocking chair. It seems the Hellman-Ehrmans are still winding down in Lake Tahoe. And, frankly, who can blame them?
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