Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Eccentric Millionaire Builds Enduring Tahoe Legacy

Posted on June 1, 2017
Filed Under Cultural Heritage

billthelion.jpgThe Thunderbird Lodge.

Built in 1939, this magnificent estate was designed to blend harmoniously with its natural surroundings. And, that’s not all.

Don’t miss the Open House on May 16, 2009.

It also housed flamboyant millionaire George Whittell’s favorite friends. Mingo, the elephant, pet lion, Bill, and over 40 birds that lived in the aviary on the front porch of the estate. Bill- the lion – was his closest friend and companion traveling with him everywhere in George’s convertible roadster.

His love of animals and Tahoe inspired him to bequeath much of his money to animal rights organizations and to sell most of his 27 miles of shoreline to the National Forest Service that helped protect the east shore from development.

What a great story. And, historical site. Kind of like Tahoe’s Hearst Castle.


To learn more about George Whittell’s fascinating life, his boat and lodge, visit the Thunderbird Lodge Historic Site website.

Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, May 16th from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in celebration of Nevada Historic Preservation Month.

Tours of the historic Thunderbird Lodge estate will be given along with historic chats. Cookies and light refreshments will be served.

Tours will last approximately an hour and walking shoes are recommended. Tickets are $20 per person and advance reservations are required. Parking will be limited so we request carpooling, if possible, to the site. Driving directions will be included in your confirmation email.

Sorry, no children under 6. Limited availability.  Tour times include: 10 am, 11 am, 12:30pm and 2pm. To purchase tickets, click here.

Detailed information about the estate and George Whittell can be found in the book “Castle in the Sky”, by Ronald and Susan James. To purchase this elegant and informative book online, click here.

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