Beyond the blue
Lake Tahoe Voices
What was Tahoe like before Travel magazine decided to annually rank it in its Top 5 West Coast vacation destinations for the past 15 years? Before it became known for its winter and water sports, fine dining, environmental beauty and gambling, who and what lived there? How did natives survive, and what impressions did the lake leave on the settlers of the turn of the century?
A month ago, Reno resident Stacy Teixeria wasn’t the person to ask; then she stumbled upon Lake Tahoe Voices. Holding a copy of the audio book while standing in the middle of an intellectual mob at Sundance Bookstore, Teixeria decided to set aside Tahoe’s current glitz and glamour and get acquainted with its roots.
Teixeria often can be seen riding her Specialized mountain bike, and she’s a good source for lake and ski conditions. But history’s another matter.
“I don’t know anything about the history of this area,” she says. “I took history in high school just because I had to. I still don’t know much about how the U.S. was formed and why we have been involved in so many wars. It probably sounds stupid, but it’s the truth.”
Nonetheless, Teixeria left the store with Lake Tahoe Voices and an espresso, unknowingly becoming a member of Brian Bahouth’s target audience. Bahouth is the owner of Faultline Audio Press, a Reno-based audio book company. Last year, he secured the job after completing a graduate degree in writing at UNR. This came following a news director stint at KRZA in Alamosa, Colo. and a four-year stay at UNR, where he was the brainchild of the Friday call-in show, “High Desert Forum.”
Lake Tahoe Voices appeared in independent bookstores earlier this summer, marking Faultline Audio Press’ first audio book release. The six-track, first-person narrative takes listeners on an enlightening and personal tour of Lake Tahoe, beginning with a traditional Washo story, “How Lake Tahoe was Made.” For as many as 9,000 years, the Washo tribe inhabited the lake’s shores and mountains, using the pristine land for hunting, fishing and social gatherings. The story spans hundreds of generations and is given life through the songs and stories cherished by the Washo people. The voice of Melba Rakow recites the story in the Washo language, while Keith Wyatt tells the tale simultaneously in English.
Tahoe’s history then jumps to 1863, when minister and famed orator Thomas Starr-King visits the lake and returns to San Francisco to deliver a passionate sermon to his congregation.
Nine years later, Tahoe caught the fancy of Mark Twain. He spent days on the lakeshore and included his experiences in his first book, Roughing It.
The fascination with Tahoe continued to grow in the late-1800s, and encounters with writers and poets were eloquently reported in publications around the world.
Bahouth says he hopes these stories will shed a detailed light on the evolution of Lake Tahoe. “These authors’ perspectives of the lake are far different from what we think today,” he says. “Hearing the contrast is incredible. Listeners learn from funny stories that come from the thoughts of women, Native Americans, explorers and writers of all kinds. It teaches us what has happened over the years to make Tahoe what it is.”
Bahouth’s quest to uncover the historical events and people who helped shape the American West reaches a new milestone in August with the release of Virginia City—A Concise History on Audio. Written and narrated by Bahouth, the CD features 23 short essays detailing the boomtown days from 1859 to 1915.
“Literature from the Western U.S. is largely absent. There’s a massive canon of work yet to be unveiled,” he says.