This eclectic title expresses my fascination with how Earth history and human culture intertwine. In 1929, Lora J. Knight commissioned a Swedish architect to build a Scandinavian-style summer home on her property on Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe area. Why Scandinavian architecture on the shores of a lake at the border between California and Nevada? Natural beauty opens up the heart and allows the mind to wonder free and make connections would seldom make otherwise. Mrs. Knight may have been intrigued by the fjord-like shape of the bay, so Scandinavia and Lake Tahoe became a natural link.
Emerald Bay and Scandinavia have at least one thing in common: glaciers were present in both places in recent geologic past, and they had a dramatic influence on the modern-day landscape.
The Emerald Bay is located in a depression scooped up by glaciers about two million years ago, in Pleistocene, and the Scandinavian fjords are sculpted by glaciers too. Ms. Knight was captivated by the beauty of both places and she started extensive research, which resulted in visits to Scandinavia, and eventually in the building of Vikingsholm, her summer retreat on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Besides being carved by glaciers, the Emerald Bay has another interesting feature of glacial origin, the Fannette Island, a roche moutonnée – a piece of remnant basement rock sculpted by the slow movement of a glacier.
Lora Knight built a tea-house on top of the island, visible in the picture if you look carefully. Unfortunately the structure is presently in a state of disrepair, but ah! how I would like to steep and enjoy a perfect cup of tea while pondering the glaciated geologic past and enjoying the view of a magical place like Lake Tahoe.