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Sierra Speaker Series: The Great Tahoe Adventure

April 17 @ 5:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Sierra Speaker Series: The Great Tahoe Adventure
April’s Sierra Speaker Series is all about Thunderbird Adventures! At the beginning of the 20th Century, visiting Lake Tahoe was a real adventure for wealthy folks like San Francisco’s George Whittell Jr. These courageous visitors traveled by train, stagecoach, horseless carriage and steamships to get around Lake Tahoe in the summer.
The SS Tahoe, one of the most famous Lake Tahoe steamers, played an important role. It transported passengers and mail from Tahoe City, making daily stops at piers on the West Shore, South Lake and the North Shore.
Captain Whittell and others who could afford it, would bring their automobiles up by train, have them loaded on barges and towed across the lake so they could tour the Eastern Sierra.
Whittell later became an accidental conservationist when he purchased most of the available land on the Nevada side of Tahoe during the Great Depression and built his own castle on the East Shore. He also built a custom yacht called Thunderbird, and had it delivered just before World War II. Today, it’s considered by many, “The Queen of Lake Tahoe.”
Gary Jesch is familiar face at the Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe, serving as a volunteer docent for the past nine years and now as Community Program Manager. About 58 years ago, he arrived at Thunderbird Lodge with his family, when his father Ray Jesch was assigned to restore the Thunderbird Yacht by Bill Harrah, its second owner. In the 60s, his teenage summers were spent at the Whittell Castle. In the winters, the family hiked in on snowshoes, when his grandmother Peg Wheat became Whittell’s year-round caretaker.
After graduating from UNR, Gary moved to Incline Village, started a business and freelanced for publications. Living there nurtured his love for all things Lake Tahoe, its history, people, places and the water – sailing his catamarans in Crystal Bay or fishing on the North Shore.
He now lives in Carson City and operates a computer graphics service bureau specializing in 3D character animation and video production services. One of his important projects is helping kids on the autism spectrum who come to his virtual wellness clinic to get lessons from his interactive cartoon avatars called “Avatar Adventures.”

Join us here on our Facebook Page for the premiere or on our Youtube Channel!


April 17
5:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


CA United States


Sierra State Parks Foundation
Thunderbird Lodge