Boats of Tahoe provides living history of basin

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Some things in Tahoe never die.

The living history can be experienced at the Tallac Historic Site's Pope Estate boathouse, but time is running out.

The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will wrap up its Boats of Tahoe tours Sept. 15. Workers gave a Wednesday afternoon tour of the boathouse.

Mike Rhea of the U.S. Forest Service branch brushed up on his Tahoe history, inspiring old-steamer fans and firing up the winch that brought the Quic Chakidn - which stands for "quit your kidding - into the boathouse about 10 years ago.

The scene resembled a high school shop class as the men peered over the 1930s winch engine. A plume of smoke hovered over it, but the motor ran for a minute or two.

Rhea recalled the time the 14-ton boat was brought to its final resting place on a rail line.

"I hooked up the winch, and I ran," he joked, explaining that the snap of a winch cable can be lethal.

The Quic Chakidn arrived in the Roaring '20s and cruised the lake through Prohibition, with an oven that could cook for 40 people. Original owner Walter Hobart liked to make his presence known with a siren that echoed across Emerald Bay. It was later owned by Lloyd Saxon.

On Wednesday, Rhea blew the brass siren to give people a sense of the noise residents were forced to endure until it was replaced by a whistle. Tour participants covered their ears.

Wealthy tycoons paraded around the lake in expensive boats - from the Consuelo to SS Tahoe. The latter lies 373 feet down off the shores of Glenbrook. Residents believe the Bliss family sunk it in 1940 to avoid donating it to the World War II effort, in which it may have become scrap.

According to Rhea, the Navy took the Quic Chakidn out on the lake to perform radar and sonar tests.

"They say these boats cost more than the average person makes in a lifetime," he said. "Still now, boats are a nice status symbol."

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at


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