Submitted by scott on Fri, 09/30/2016 - 12:10
39° 5' 30" N , 120° 2' 30" W

"We had heard a world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally curiosity drove us thither to see it. Three or four members of the Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp. We strapped a couple of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started—for we intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy. We were on foot. The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback. We were told that the distance was eleven miles. We tramped a long time on level ground, and then toiled laboriously up a mountain about a thousand miles high and looked over. No lake there. We descended on the other side, crossed the valley and toiled up another mountain three or four thousand miles high, apparently, and looked over again. No lake yet. We sat down tired and perspiring, and hired a couple of Chinamen to curse those people who had beguiled us. Thus refreshed, we presently resumed the march with renewed vigor and determination. We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords."

"So singularly clear was the water, that where it was only twenty or thirty feet deep the bottom was so perfectly distinct that the boat seemed floating in the air! Yes, where it was even eighty feet deep. Every little pebble was distinct, every speckled trout, every hand’s- breadth of sand. Often, as we lay on our faces, a granite boulder, as large as a village church, would start out of the bottom apparently, and seem climbing up rapidly to the surface, till presently it threatened to touch our faces, and we could not resist the impulse to seize an oar and avert the danger. But the boat would float on, and the boulder descend again, and then we could see that when we had been exactly above it, it must still have been twenty or thirty feet below the surface. Down through the transparency of these great depths, the water was not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so. All objects seen through it had a bright, strong vividness, not only of outline, but of every minute detail, which they would not have had when seen simply through the same depth of atmosphere. So empty and airy did all spaces seem below us, and so strong was the sense of floating high aloft in mid-nothingness, that we called these boat-excursions “balloon-voyages.”" (Roughing It)


Re: Any further reference to the "blood-curdling adventures"
Tue, 17 Mar 2020 23:02:08 +0000 (03/17/2020 04:02:08 PM)
Mark Twain Forum
Adding to David's accurate response. Sam Clemens' first visit to the Tahoe
timber claim was with John Kinney. Kinney then went to Aurora and purchased
mining claims for himself and Territorial Judge George Turner. Clemens
returned to reestablish the timber claim with Tom Nye. In July, 1862 Tom had
become a member of his father John Nye's Tahoe Timber Claim in Ormsby County.
Two trips with different companions. So who did the "we" in Roughing it
involve? In RI, written for humor, not as autobiography, Twain suggests there
was but one timber claim trip, which was months was longer than it could have
been; Clemens was at work for his brother, during the October-November
Territorial Legislative session. Kinney was in Aurora. Perhaps that is why
Twain says in RI that the visit by Kinney and the narrator of RI was in
August, when in fact Kinney did not arrive in Carson City until September 9-12
(His stage left Salt Lake City on Sept. 4) . Note what may have been careful
wording in RI: Twain doesn't directly say the many [imaginary] adventures
involved the [imaginary] lengthy Tahoe visit. But I have found no time during
which John Kinney and Sam Clemens could have gotten together after that first
Timber Claim trip before Kinney returned to Ohio in 1862, where he helped form
the Seventh Ohio Cavalry. He then resigned his commission in December 1862.
John Kinney died in Memphis during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878..
Monday, March 16, 2020, 08:28:02 AM PDT, David Antonucci  wrote:
In my research, I was able to identify many subsequent visits to Lake
Tahoe following the two timber claim related trips in 1861. He visited
two hotels, Lake House and Logan House, and made a fishing trip with a
Virginia City doctor. In addition, he made several trips through Tahoe
on his way to and from San Francisco None of these would seem to fall
into the category of "blood-curdling adventures." I found no evidence
he visited Tahoe during his time in the Mother Lode. There are reports
of Twain appearing at Tahoe after he left the West for the last time
but these are likely imposters or historical inaccuracies.
On Mon, Mar 16, 2020 at 6:17 AM Clay Shannon wrote:
> At the end of chapter XXIII (23) of "Roughing It," Twain wrote:
> We made many trips to the lake after that, and had many a hair-breadth
escape and blood-curdling adventure which will never be recorded in any
> Did he keep to this? I don't recall any other mention of these real-or-
imagined "hair-breadth escapes" or "blood-curdling adventures." Where thereany other mentions of it?
> If not (as I believe there are not), are there any theories about what these
consisted of?
> - B. Clay Shannon

147.16–17 the marvelous beauty of Lake Tahoe . . . drove us thither to see it] This lake west of Carson City (see supplement B, map 3) spans the California-Nevada border and is about twenty-two miles long by twelve miles wide. It was officially named Lake Bigler, after John Bigler, California’s third governor (1852–56); the Washo name “Tahoe” (meaning “water” or “lake”) came into use during the Civil War because of Bigler’s unpopular secessionist views, but was not officially adopted until 1945. Clemens’s trip to the lake probably took place on 14–17 September, shortly after Kinney’s arrival in Carson City, not at the “end of August,” as Mark Twain claims (Hart, 48, 268; L1, 126 n. 3). 

Chapter 22: note for 147.16–17," in Roughing It : an electronic text. 2016

157.11 We made many trips to the lake after that] The “fence” and “house” that Clemens and Kinney built to secure their three-hundred-acre timber claim were destroyed by the forest fire. Nevertheless, on 25 October 1861 Clemens wrote his sister and mother, “I have already laid a timber claim on the borders of a Lake (Bigler) which throws Como in the shade. . . . In that claim I took up about two miles in length by one in width” (L1, 129). It is possible that Clemens made this claim of two square miles (slightly less than thirteen hundred acres), as Albert Bigelow Paine has suggested, during a later trip to Lake Tahoe, possibly on 22–28 September 1861. A second visit to the lake so soon after his first may explain why Mark Twain mistakenly remembered spending two or three weeks there. Only one additional trip of Clemens’s to the lake has been documented, in August 1863 (MTB, 1:180; L1, 127 n. 7, 264).   "Chapter 23: note for 157.11," in Roughing It : an electronic text. 2016