South Lake Tahoe glitters as it turns 50

More than 200 people mingle before the festivities to celebrate South Lake Tahoe's 50th birthday begin Nov. 7. Photos/Kathryn Reed

More than 200 people mingle before the festivities to celebrate South Lake Tahoe’s 50th birthday begin Nov. 7. Photos/Kathryn Reed

By Kathryn Reed

“History is what binds us.”

That was just one of the sentiments expressed by South Lake Tahoe Mayor Hal Cole on Saturday night as more than 200 people came together to celebrate the city’s 50th birthday.

slt 50th logoIt was on Nov. 30, 1965, that South Lake Tahoe became an incorporated city.

The milestones – some positive, some sad, all critical to the city being what it is today – were captured through video, personal stories, and the written word.

While the city is bound to have more parties at other significant markers, it is at 50 when many of those who helped establish the city are still here to tell their story. Yesteryear’s visionaries aren’t likely to be around for the 75th celebration. That is what made Nov. 7 special – the past, present and future were all in one room for a few hours.

A golden celebration.

A golden anniversary.

It was a night to remember those who had the foresight to strive for incorporation, the recognition that the area would be better off governing itself than being saddled with decisions made 60 miles away in Placerville, and to illustrate what has occurred in these five decades and what is possible going forward.

Thirteen former or current councilmembers attended the festivities at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. Members of the Brad Murphy (the first mayor) and Norm Woods (councilman) families were in attendance.

The sold-out event included former and current city staff, as well as a who’s who list of community members.

It was a night to better understand some of the struggles that have taken place – such as development and redevelopment, finances, the loss of local soldiers, and the Angora Fire.

It was a night to embrace accomplishments – Lakeview Commons, recreation center, environmental stewardship.

It was a night to look at the future – Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care moving into the city limits, Tahoe Mountain Lab building a hub for the untraditional work force, expanded recreation opportunities and a city that will be vibrant when the 100th celebration takes place.

City Manager Nancy Kerry, center, is flanked by the four councilmembers who attended the Nov. 7 celebration.

City Manager Nancy Kerry, second from left, is flanked by the four councilmembers who attended the Nov. 7 party.

Cole touched on four entities that to him have made a profound difference to this area:

·      Heavenly – especially singling out how the ski resort was built by locals and had world-class events, and is still integral to the fabric of the city.

·      Barton Memorial Hospital – recalling the days before there was a hospital and how it is rare for a community hospital to still be locally owned-operated.

·      South Tahoe Public Utility District – for being a pioneer in treating sewage to keep Tahoe blue.

·      Edgewood – to the Park family that has been key to Tahoe since the 1800s and is continuing to evolve.



·      The commemorative book is available for purchase by emailing Tracy Franklin —

·      The three-part video shown Saturday night is available on YouTube.


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Comments (7)
  1. Lisa says - Posted: November 8, 2015

    Made me so sad that this celebration was limited to 200. My sons great grandfather was Gerald Martin. One of the founding fathers and on the first city council. I truly would have loved to go to this also. But it was sold out by the time I heard about it. I looked lovely.

  2. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: November 8, 2015

    Mr. Cole is no orator…he and many remain lost in personal gain concerns to the detriment of the rest of us.
    Maybe he is the king of sound bites.

    Think about it.

    History is what binds us????? WTF????

    Native Americans would certainly not agree.

    The Black, Hispanic and other ethnic communities would certainly not agree.

    Much of the middle class
    in Tahoe would certainly not agree.

    This last group (which includes many of the City workers, teachers, safety/fire/law enforcement and other critical service employees) can no longer find decent affordable housing in the City or nearby surrounding area.
    They are largely Nevadans now.

    In South Lake Tahoe, the historic binds are rather the glue holding the old money and their minions together….all of them trying mightily to find a way to navigate back to the 1970s, where they all became royalty.

    The most telling evidence of this is huge and includes;

    Ignoring the affects on the residents by the vacation rental home program,

    The continuing bowing, scraping and allegiance to any developer,

    The economic burden that Heavenly has become.

    The City’s absolute refusal (outside of TOT)to take steps to tax or otherwise recover part of the huge costs to the City caused by these mega-million dollar businesses.

    Who is being paid off and how?

  3. Runnitt says - Posted: November 8, 2015

    Pretty disgusting that this celebration was reserved for the well-to-do and not offered to every single local resident in the city of South Lake Tahoe. Typical though.

  4. admin says - Posted: November 8, 2015

    Tickets were available to anyone who wanted them. They sold-out, though, in a matter of days.

    LTN staff

  5. Sam says - Posted: November 8, 2015

    Hey Cranky,

    Categorically wrong on almost all accounts.

    1.Every time I hear the people cry about the VHR ordinance it’s one of the greedy short term folks who can’t see past their nose.

    Did you know that in terms of affordability to locals Tahoe is worse than the bay area? On an average salary in the bay area one would need to save up for 8 years to afford a house. Here in Tahoe it’s 10 years! 10! Do you know why? We’ve allowed VHR’s to run a muck and drive up pricing so high, the locals can’t even afford it. VHR ordinance had to happen, and in the long run it may help ease the housing issues we have.

    2. Since when has the city been cozy with developers. Clearly you don’t know our reputation for holding developers up at gun point and shaking them down for taxes, permits and fees. You really have that backwards.

    3. Heavenly is one of the larger employers here. Economically that is a good thing. Big companies get incentives in order to operate here.

    4. There are no conspiracy theories of developers and the city. This isn’t the 70’s. Developers are just starting to get interested in the South Shore again.

    That’s all. Stay cranky.

  6. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: November 8, 2015


    If you read my post, you did not understand it.

    Just a couple of points…
    I never mentioned conspiracies. The collusion with developers is real
    The City let “the Hole” happen by contracting with a developer without sufficient funds in the door and failing to require any any performance bonds.
    If that is not getting cozy with a developer I don’t know what is

    Of course I know Tahoe is high cost of living….that is why I pointed out many employees up here have to live in Nevada. Most of the previous long term resident rentals have been converted to Vacation rentals forcing non homeowners to move to Nevada.

  7. Slapshot says - Posted: November 9, 2015

    What personal gain do you refer to. Has mr Cole or other council people benefitted from? Financial gain, personal gain some other gain. It seems to me just the opposite given the hours these people put in its a loss. Can you point to specifics?