Sugarpine Forest is Better Than Candy Land

Would you rather live in the mountains or on the beach for the rest of your life? Well, what if I told you that you could have both here at the Hellman-Erhman Mansion. The mansion, better known as Pine Lodge, sits on a grassy throne over lake tahoe and boasts the best views of blue lake.

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That mansion once belonged to I. W. Hellman, a businessman from San Francisco who bought the property in 1897. In 1903 construction on the mansion was completed and by 1913 Hellman had nearly 2000 acres of the surrounding paradise. Before construction on the mansion began, Hellman imported topsoil to provide the base for his lawns and gardens. Walter Bliss, designer of the famous Tahoe Tavern in Tahoe City, designed the 11,703 square foot home for $22,000 and it cost $22,000 to construct the home as well (#coincidence).

Imagine yourself a guest at the Pine Lodge… You’ve just arrived after a two day journey from San Francisco. Yesterday’s 9 hour train ride to Truckee Tahoe was dreamlike with its views of jagged mountain peaks and pine lined lakes from the winding rail road that slips through the Sierra Nevadas while today’s 25 mile wagon ride from Truckee was far from a dream and as glamorous as death in high heels. In short, when asked how your travels went you swallow your complaints like a bad slice of sushi, smile, and say it went swimmingly. Luckily, fresh lamb prepared by the Hellman’s in house personal chefs is on the dinner menu and tomorrow Mrs. Hellman plans to entertain you with a full schedule a summery frills. Maybe you’ll see a bear and her cubs on a hike (I did). Maybe you’ll take to the lake on one of the two boats, Comet and Cherokee. Maybe you’ll take to the lake on both the boats! While much fun is to be had during your stay, one thing is certain: tomorrow you will wake up to a feast fit for Kings and indulge yourself in the wealth of one.

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In 1920 the daughter of I. W. Hellman, Florence Hellman Erhman, inherited Pine Lodge and in 1965 Florence’s daughter Esther sold the estate to California State Parks. To this day the house is maintained as a museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can find it in Sugrapine National Forest. Thanks to the Hellman legacy, for a small price the public can take in the sights, smells and experience the Pine Lodge provided its guests a century ago.

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So, the question remains: mountains or beaches? or both?

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