D.L. Bliss State ParkLeave review
About D.L. Bliss State Park
Campgrounds in D.L. Bliss
This park doesn't have any submitted photos—just yet.
Drop some D.L. Bliss knowledge on us.
History of D.L. Bliss State Park
The Washoe (aboriginal Washo) natives were the first humans to inhabit the Lake Tahoe basin and the nearby Sierra Nevada range. Historians and archaeologists estimate that Washoe have lived in the Tahoe basin for nearly 10,000 years. They lived as nomads, hunting, fishing and gathering seasonal food. In autumn, the natives moved from near the lake, which they called da ow a ga, to Washoe Lake in Carson Valley for the winter. Between 1848 and 1862, the Washoe people’s estimated 10,000 square miles of lake and surrounding land were taken during the gold and silver rush. New settlers logged off the Sierra range for mine and dwelling construction.
The natives’ descendants, the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada, are now trying to reclaim portions of their land. Tribe members run the Meeks Bay resort campground and concession north of D.L. Bliss State Park. The Washoe are reviving their native language, teaching it to preschoolers, while pursuing traditional arts like basketry, dancing, and drumming.
In 1928, Mrs. Lora J. Knight of Santa Barbara purchased this isolated site at the head of Emerald Bay. Knight instructed Lennart Palme, a Swedish-born architect and her nephew by marriage, to design a home for her. Following a trip to Scandinavia, the two decided to use elements found in Norwegian farmsteads and wooden stave churches without disturbing a single one of the Emerald Bay site’s magnificent trees.
Vikingsholm’s construction methods and materials, including granite boulders in the foundations and walls, are the same as those used in ancient Scandinavia. Towers, intricate carvings and hand-hewn timbers were used to create the castle- like home. The sod roofs, with their living grass and flowers, are copied from sites
in Norway. Many of the furnishings that Mrs. Knight wanted for Vikingsholm were so historically significant that their export was forbidden by the Norwegian and Swedish governments. She had authentic furnishings duplicated in detail, down to the measurements, colorations and aging of the wood. Vikingsholm was completed in September 1929. Mrs. Knight spent her summers at the home until her death in 1945.
You can take a guided tour of Vikingsholm, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for a nominal fee from Memorial Day through September. The building is about a mile down a steep pedestrian trail from the parking lot at
the Emerald Bay Overlook. Call the D.L. Bliss office in advance at (530) 525-9529
for information about accessibility at Vikingsholm.
Emerald Bay’s Fannette Island is the only island in Lake Tahoe. A sparsely timbered, brush-covered upthrust of granite that rises 150 feet above the water, Fannette Island was not always known by that name. During the past 100 years, it was known as Coquette Island, Baranoff Island, Dead Man’s Island, Hermit’s Island, and Emerald Isle.
Captain Dick Barter, “the Hermit of Emerald Bay,” lived on Dead Man’s
Island from 1863 to 1873. He built his own wooden chapel and tomb on the island’s summit. In 1873, the captain’s boat was found wrecked at Rubicon Point above deep water; his body was never recovered.
In 1929 Captain Dick’s chapel remnants were replaced by a stone tea house built for Lora Knight. It looked like a miniature castle. Mrs. Knight and her guests would take a motorboat to have tea on the island. The tea house had a small corner fireplace with a large oak table and four oak chairs. Vandalism has taken a toll on the tea house; only its stone shell remains.
From February 1 through June 15, the island is closed to all visitors because several pairs of Canada geese nest there. By late spring, visitors can see whole families of geese swimming near the Vikingsholm shore.