The waters of Lake Tahoe are famously clear, but the history surrounding the Alpine lake holds many secrets and surprises, including pivotal roles in both California's statehood, and the nation's literary history.

prospector_sam_aSamuel Clemens first adopted the pen name Mark Twain while in the Lake Tahoe region, writes English professor Scott Lankford in Tahoe Beneath the Surface, but that wasn't the only change that began while he was there. In those same years, in the early 1860s, Clemens was also forced to confront the Confederate symphathies that grew out of his southern heritage, and began to move away from them.

Scott Lankford

Present day Lake Tahoe is unusual in being divided between two states, but that was never planned, says Lankford (left). Instead, it was the result of John Fremont's miscalculations when he first mapped the lake, as well as the hasty political machinations involved in defining California's eastern boundary.

WinnemuccaAmong the unsung hisorical figures whose stories Lankford recounts is Sarah Winnemucca, one of the first Native American writers and a forceful and successful advocate for her tribe, the Paiutes of Pyramid Lake.

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