It’s said that nature abhors a vacuum.

When something goes unexplained, we fill the knowledge void with rumor and hyperbolic intrigue. And in a place as deep and old as Lake Tahoe, we fill that unknown with stories about “Tessie” and cement-shoe-wearing mobsters.

Thankfully, we have the Tahoe Maritime Center Museum and Gardens, to bring some clarity to the beautiful mysteries of our beloved alpine lake.

On Tuesday, April 16 at 5 p.m., the center will offer the public a look under the surface of Lake Tahoe via virtual tour.

The presentation will delve into known shipwrecks resting in the lake’s blue eternity, help guests understand how they got there, what they look like now, and how the natural makeup of Tahoe’s depths contributes to their state of decay.

Archeologist Denise Jaffke of California State Parks, and Walt Holm of OpenROV, the Berkeley-based company whose underwater exploration technology makes it possible to probe Tahoe’s depth, will help guests gain a new perspective on Tahoe’s maritime past.

The Steamer SS Tahoe and the Emerald Bay “Mini-Fleet” will be the primary subjects.

Exploration of the 168-foot SS Tahoe, sunk in 1940, has been going on for years. Its initial discovery at 112 meters (367 feet) deep and a mile offshore in 2002 was considered a milestone for Tahoe exploration, and led to the wreck being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Researched and located by Reno-based New Millennium Dive Expeditions, parts of the wreck have found their way down a slope to more than 150 meters deep.

In 2014, OpenROV tested its investigative prowess and eventually began sharing footage of the classic tourist craft.

Heavily visited Emerald Bay is no stranger to being looked at from above. However, few people realize that in 1994 it was named California’s first Underwater State Park. In a state with so much coastline, that’s a title not to be taken lightly.

The scenic, aquatic outgrowth of Lake Tahoe has an array of disposed-of boats and one-time sea worthy watercraft, and Holm and Jaffke will tag-team its collective history and provide compelling insights into what makes Tahoe’s bottom as captivating as its shoreline.


Info: April 16, 5 p.m., Tahoe Maritime Center Museum and Gardens; tahoemaritimemuseum.org