For eight years, Cassinelli Landscaping and Construction was the landscape and snow removal contractor for the private community of Glenbrook on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. One time while plowing snow in a blizzard, John Cassinelli rolled our backhoe twice down a steep hill. The time came when we decided to concentrate our operations to the Carson City region and end our daily commute to Glenbrook. During the time spent at Glenbrook, we learned much about the history of this fascinating place.
The first white man to see Lake Tahoe was John C. Fremont in 1844 on his expedition over the Sierras. Determined to visit the place again some day, he returned to Nevada the next summer and from the Truckee Meadows, he traveled west along the Truckee River and entered the Lake Tahoe region along the north rim of the lake. During the California Gold Rush, the trail over the mountains passed the southeast corner of Lake Tahoe and then north to what later became Glenbrook. A trading post was established there in a beautiful cove named Glenbrook that was fourteen miles from Carson City.
Glenbrook is located in a forest of centuries-old pine trees. There were meadows for livestock and plenty of water for irrigation. The town soon developed a lumber industry when Captain A.W. Pray built a sawmill in 1861. In 1873, Duane Bliss, Henry Yerington and Darious L. Mills formed the Carson and Tahoe lumber and Fluming Company. They bought out Pray’s interest and built a “V-flume” to carry lumber from the mountains to the Carson River and freighted it to build Virginia City and to and timber the mines.
A fleet of Lake Tahoe steam ships brought logs from around Lake Tahoe to the Glenbrook pier and sawmill. While our crew was working at Glenbrook, we used many of the pilings from the old pier to construct a retaining wall for erosion control along the beach where the steamer “Tahoe” had been launched in 1896. I often hiked up Slaughterhouse Canyon along the route of the narrow gauge Glenbrook Railroad that hauled logs to Spooner summit to be sent down the V-flume to Carson City. This narrow gauge locomotive has been restored and can be seen at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The still standing Glenbrook Hotel was built in 1876, using material from an old sawmill. By 1880 the town had several boarding houses, two saloons, thirty cottages, one sawmill, store, livery stable and a butcher shop.
After the lumber boom was over, it became a tourist destination with visitors from San Francisco who took the train to Truckee and then a short line to Tahoe City where they took the steamer to sail around the lake and many then stayed at the Glenbrook Hotel.
The many visitors to Glenbrook included General Sherman, President Grant, President Rutherford Hayes, Mark Twain, who once attempted to become a timber baron along the east shore, and Horace Greeley who created even more publicity for the area. When my crew and I worked at Glenbrook, Elvis Presley stayed at one of the many cottages in Glenbrook where we maintained the grounds. Other celebrities we knew and worked for in Glenbrook was the singing team, Captain and Tennille.
Today, Glenbrook is an exclusive private community with a 9-hole golf course that opened in 1926. My late mother, Phyllis once hit a hole-in-one at the Glenbrook Golf Course. There are many privately owned residences including “cottages” that are larger than many houses in other communities. Many of these were landscaped by our crew when we worked there.
Dayton author and historian Dennis Cassinelli’s books can be ordered at a discount on his blog at denniscassinelli.com.