Captain Augustus W. Pray and associates settled in Glenbrook in the spring of that year. The name was derived from a stream that ran through the meadow. They built a log cabin, harvested the wild hay, and planted grain and vegetables. They were known to have harvested 60 bushels of wheat and 4 tons of hay per acre, while oats grew 7 and 8 feet high. The indigenous grass was so profuse that a horse drawn reaper was brought over the Sierra from San Francisco to harvest it.
By the following summer, the bayshore was known as Walton's Landing and considered the eastern shore over-water terminus for the toll pack train leading from Georgetown, California to McKinney's on Tahoe. From there the schooner, Iron Duke, or the sloop, Edith Batty, transported travelers across Tahoe to Walton's. That summer, the first sawmill, known as Pray's Mill, was built. The summer of 1861 also brought Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Tahoe. With two companions, he staked out a timber claim in the vicinity of Glenbrook. But, hard work became of secondary importance as they spent cloudless days fishing and lazily boating on the Lake. Clemens later described the Lake in Roughing It as the "fairest crystal clear water as comparable to floating high aloft in mid-nothingness, so empty and airy did the spaces seem below him." A forest fire, inadvertently started by Clemens himself, pointed up the necessity for their hasty return to Washoe.
With the discovery of the Comstock in 1859, lumbering demands skyrocketed. Pray bought out his partners and acquired 700 acres surrounding Glenbrook. The summer of that year, Shakespeare Rock was named by the wife of Reverend J. A. Benton from Massachusetts. While sketching, she noted the lichen formation on the face of the rock which she felt resembled Shakespeare.
This year the settlement's first hotel, the Glenbrook House, was built one-half mile up the canyon by G. H. F. Goff and George Morrill. The Kings Canyon or Lake Bigler (as it was then named) toll road was also finished that year. For the next decade, the Glenbrook House would be considered the finest and most luxurious on the Lake. Discriminating guests paid $21.00 per week, which included three meals per day.
The steam-powered sawmill, the "Moniter", was completed in the Fall, and the second hotel, the Lake Shore House, was built by Captain Pray, several hundred feet back from the water at the foot of the meadow. This would eventually become the south wing of the Glenbrook Inn, with the Jellerson Hotel becoming the north wing, and the former over-water store making up the center section.
The excursion steamer, "Governor Blaisdel", was built by Captain Pray.
This year the lake level was six feet lower than that recorded in 1859 and a great rivalry existed between Glenbrook and Tahoe City, which was having problems due to the lower lake level. It is said that a Tahoe City father overheard his small daughter saying sadly in her prayers, "good-bye, God, I'm going to Glenbrook." The populace of Glenbrook argued that the child had obviously said, "good! By God, I'm going to Glenbrook."
D. L. Bliss arrived in Tahoe that summer and formed a partnership with Henry Yerington and Darius Mills and incorporated the Carson Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company with Bliss as president and general manager. He proceeded to buy 7000 acres of timberland and the Summit or Elliott Brothers Mill.
In the Spring of that year, Bliss purchased five and one-half acres of lakeshore and meadowland from Captain Pray, including his mill. He also purchased the Summit Fluming Company's V-flume and rebuilt and lengthened it. He then bought Michael Spooner's Lower Mill plus his New Mill and the old Knox Sawmill east of Spooner Station. Then they built another steam-powered mill 300 yards south of the former Moniter or Davis Mill, calling it Lake Mill Number One. They were now ready to proceed on Tahoe's most ambitious lumbering venture.
That year, many things happened. A railroad extending from Glenbrook Bay to Spooner Summit was inaugurated on July 4th. It comprised of eight and three-quarter miles of track, costing $30,000 per mile to construct and would average $3000 per month in operation and maintenance costs during its 23 years of service. It rose 910 feet above the lake and as it zigzagged up the mountain, sections were constructed so that it went forward on a spur section, a switch was thrown behind the train and it backed up the next section, then onto another spur and a switch was thrown in front and it proceeded forward up the next section. 45 logging cars were purchased for it, along with two locomotives. Each engine could pull 70 tons of lumber or cordwood at a maximum speed of ten miles per hour on the upgrade. The rolling stock was shipped overland to Carson City and loaded on double-teamed logging wagons and hauled to Glenbrook. There were eventually four engines in all.
Lake Mill Number Two was built and the other mills were closed, with the exception of Summit Mill. In a short space of three years, the booming little metropolis had become Nevada's leading lumber town with an anticipated season's production exceeding 21,700,000 board feet.
That year, General William Tecumseh Sherman and President Ulysses S. Grant visited the settlement, on separate occasions. At that time, the legendary Hank Monk was handling the reins on stage runs into and out of Glenbrook.
In August of that year, the 80-foot iron-hulled Meteor was placed in service. A steam tug designed to be the fastest of its type in the country.
President Hayes visited Glenbrook.
By this year, Glenbrook had two small hotels, a store, a genteel saloon, a railroad, machine shops, several sawmills, a livery stable, and an express and post office. Glenbrook also had one of the first telephone lines on the West coast. A private wire was installed in the Bliss home.
The Jellerson Hotel was built a few hundred yards south of the present golf course.
The Number Two sawmill burned to it's foundation. Then mill Number One was run 20 hours a day.
The Jellersons constructed the Dirego Hotel near the Jellerson Hotel. The record snowfall of 1889-90 produced snow 15 feet deep on the ground with drifts 35 to 40 feet high. Townspeople had to dig themselves out of second-story windows or tunnel through the frozen white blanket.
By summer, horse racing became popular along the shoreline.
The Duane Bliss two and one-half story mansion contained the only real bathroom in the settlement and fantastic excuses were thought up by tourists to get a look at the modern wonder.
By the mid 1890's, the tempo of business was slowing down along with the gold and silver in the Comstock.
By that year, 47,000 acres of timber had been cut. Barely 950 acres of usable pine stands remained. During 28 years of logging activity, it is estimated that the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company took from the Tahoe Basin more than 750,000,000 board feet of lumber and 500,000 cords of wood. Truly, in the words of Dan DeQuille, "the Comstock lode was the tomb of the forests of Tahoe."
The Bliss family formed the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company and prepared to move its scope of operations across the Lake to the California side. During the next three years, they purchased the steamers, Meteor and Emerald Number Two.
The Bliss family built the Queen of the Lake, the 169-foot Tahoe steamer.
By the 1900's, Glenbrook had settled down and become the Glenbrook Inn and Ranch and its lumbering days faded into colorful memories.
Glenbrook is the remainder of the once vast holdings of the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company which, at one time, controlled over 50,000 acres of timber land in the Tahoe Basin and on the eastern slope of the Sierra.
As a community, Glenbrook began its history in 1860 when Captain A. W. Pray built the Lake's first mill on the south side of Glenbrook Bay. The settlement which evolved around this early mill grew steadily for the next ten years under Pray's supervision.
In 1873, the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Company, headed by Duane L. Bliss, began acquiring large tracts of land in and around the Glenbrook area.
Under Bliss's direction, a railroad was built to carry cordwood and lumber from the Company's new Glenbrook mills to the top of Spooner Summit for transportation by flume to Carson City, 14 miles away.
Here the wood was loaded onto cars and carried to Virginia City for use in the Comstock Mines. With the introduction of these improvements, the era of large-scale logging began in the Tahoe Basin.
By 1881, Glenbrook was the largest lumber manufacturing town in Nevada, with production exceeding 20 million board feet a year and with a population well in excess of one thousand.
Its amenities included four hotels...
...two saloons, a post office and several general stores.
During the next two decades, timber was harvested from nearly every accessible area of the Lake and hauled to Glenbrook by tugboat for milling. Only a few thousand acres were left untouched by the end of the 1890's. With the depletion of timber and the decrease in demand for lumber by Virginia City as mine production waned, the direction of Glenbrook's future changed.
In 1896, Duane Bliss, the principal architect of Tahoe's development, launched a new era with the christening of his new passengership, the S. S. Tahoe. Within a short time, this once little-known logging lake became the foremost mountain resort in the western United States.
In 1906, the Glenbrook Inn opened its doors to accommodate this new tourist trade. The Inn itself was composed of two former hotels, the Lakeshore House and Jellerson House, together with new construction and parts of an old general store. Most of the guests of the Inn arrived via steamer from Tahoe City, California, after a short journey from the Southern Pacific Railway station at Truckee to the Tahoe Tavern by train.
From 1906 until 1975, Glenbrook was an exclusive summer resort for people from all over the United States.
A few historic buildings...
...and hundreds of old harbor pilings are all that remain of a once robust and vital Nevada lumber town.
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