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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
October 31, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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October 31, 2014

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From page 1 tims. Legends such as these are so pervasive that local boaters and fishermen have even named one area of the lake "The Graveyard." As a matter of fact--Gordon Lightfoot lyrics notwithstand- ing-the body of a SCUBA diver missing some 17 years was recent- ly fished out of a depth of 300 feet, perfectly preserved in the lake's ice-water mansions. One persistent rumor is that if one were to descend into the 1,600 foot depths of the lake in a subma- rine, one would find hundreds of bodies dressed in turn- of-the-century swim- wear suspended in the hideous gloom like so many marionettes in a Stephen King novel. As a matter of fact, none of than Jacques Cousteau is said to have traversed the deeps of the lake in a mini-sub back in the '70s and-- according to legend-- reportedly came across something so disturbing that he never once spoke about his adventure, nor did he share any photographs or film footage. "The world isn't ready for what is down there," he reportedly said. The Washoe nation, which has lived in the area for thousands of years, have their own beliefs as to how the lake was formed. One account goes like this: One day long ago, a Washoe man who was constantly being harassed and pursued by an evil spirit, was given a gift. ....... A great and good spirit gave to him a branch of magical leaves that when cast upon the earth pro- duced a small body of water. The idea was that the evil spirit, being unable to cross water, would be delayed by such a well-spring, thereby delaying his pursuit of the Washoe man and allowing him time to escape. One day, the man saw the evil spirit bounding and leaping toward him from some distance away. In great fear, the man accident- ly cast the entire branch upon the ground causing a huge amount of water to spring up out of the earth: Lake Tahoe. Scientists, always ready to throw cold water on such tales, say the lake was formed by land sink- ing between a pair of faults. Flowing lava from a nearby volcano named Mt. Pluto provided the "dam" for the waters of the Truckee River and voila! the lake was born. Mt. Pluto is now extinct, but its remnants still tower above the western shore of the lake and ac- tually form the starting point of a number of ski runs at Northstar. Ever since its creation, the lake has seen the emergence of a re- markable number of other tales. There's the Tahoe version of the Fountain of Youth that has persist- ed in local legend since before the arrival of the white man. In the UFO column there are supposedly strange cave paintings in the area that resemble flying saucers and even reported UFO sightings by gold-seekers John Sutter and James Marshall. (One legend says it was an extraterres- trial that actually helped Marshall find the gold that started the Cali- fornia Gold Rush !) And every year there are nu- merous calls to the National UFO Reporting Center of "shimmering saucers" skipping up and down the lake at high speed in the middle of the night. There are tall ~ales of possible ancient civi- lizations that lived near the lake tied somehow to either the Incas or the Mayas or both. Not all of these civi- lizations are ancient, however. Jim Watson In February 2008, a Columnist group of skiers found what was described as - a "200-year-old car?' protruding from the snow after an avalanche. No word on whether or not they got it running again. Then there are more whimsical legends, such as the "Tahoe Plug," something akin to our mythical "Catalina Anchor," I suppose. In what must have been one of the most original publicity stunts in history, this "plug" was fash- ioned by a San Francisco land speculator named Lester Williams who discovered the lake draining away one day. After stopping up the leak with this huge wooden plug, he returned to San Francisco to report to the citizens there that it was now safe to purchase lakeside property from him. Then, there's the obligatory "monster of the lake." SLANDER CROSSWORD 'TESSIE' It seems you simply can't have a big lake in this world without some monster or other lurking around in its depths and Tahoe is no exception. Quaintly titled "Tessie," the large serpentine creature only ap- pears in June in even-numbered years. In July 1984, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story claim- ing that two women had seen the beast a month earlier. Patsy McKay and Diane Sta- varakas were hiking along the lake's Western shore when they supposedly saw "Tessie" swim- ming in the lake. Two years before that, a pair of Reno police officers reported see- ing an "unusually large" creature swim by them. Those lucky enough to spot Tes- sie describe her (or him) as being about 17 feet long with humped back and reportedly surfaces much like a whale. END OF THE TRAIL I ended my meanderings up in my hometown of Chico, up in the Sacramento Valley, where I attend- ed the wedding of my niece, Jill, to her long-time significant other Brian, an employee of the world- famous Sierra Nevada Brewery. There, I got to see a whole boatload of relatives I hadn't seen in years as well as some I've never met, including my new Aunt Janet, who happens to be about 15 years younger than I am! To top it off, I also got the op- portunity drive around in the rep- lica 1932 "Hi-boy" roadster that my dad and brother had painstak- ingly built over a number of years. THE TRIP HOME It was a long, boring drive down Highway 5. l or Contact the Islander (310) 510-0500 The author ends his road trip through the High Sierra in Chico, California. Photo 9 I ]i 1 6 1 7 I i ___ 15 Across: Down: 4 Toothy Monster 1 Full Moon Transformation 5 Original Jack-o'-Lantem 2 Ghosts Revisiting 7 Egyptian Monster 3 Trick or___ 8 Spirit 6 Jackolantern 11 Baron Von __.__ 9 Johnny Depp Character, Capt. Jack___ 12 Grave Marker 10 Halloween odgnated by... 14 The Undead 13 1950's Jello Monster 16 Grotesque Dwarf-Like Creature 15 Witches Travel Mode 17 .__Bat by Fritz Watson. Answers on pa!]e 14 The Catalina Islander wants to hear your focal stories, past and present. And if you want to express your opinion on a local issue, or have some information your wish to pass along to our readers, please step up to the mic. Email your stories, photos, opinions: Puzzle Sponsored By: 301 and 1[]125 CreJcent iilvenue THE CATALINA ISLANDER Friday, October 31, 2014 13