Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Trouble in Paradise: Twain in the Sandwich Islands at Gatekeeper’s Museum June 20

Posted on May 29, 2013
Filed Under North Tahoe Events

mark-twainHe was brash, witty, unapologetic and sarcastic.  And, he spent time here in Lake Tahoe Roughing It!

Mark Twain forever adored Lake Tahoe, and rhapsodized about it all his adventurous life. The Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City offers a unique opportunity on Thursday, June 20, at 6 p.m. to spend an evening with the old gentleman next to his beloved “jewel of the Sierra” and hear him talk about his adventures in another paradise, the tropical Islands of Hawaii. “Twain spent four months in the islands in 1866, when he was 31 and working on becoming famous. His 25 letters from the Sandwich Islands, written on assignment for The Sacramento Union, are still fresh and rudely funny after almost a century and a half,” said New York Times writer Lawrence Downes. “Twain’s Hawaii teamed with ship captains, whalers, missionaries, mosquitoes, fragrant thickets of flowers and thousands of cats. France, Britain and the United States were competing for influence, making the usual colonial mischief. . . It was a land of royal pageantry, tropical splendor and a fair amount of squalor. . . Twain rented a horse and rode until he was laid up with saddle sores. He rode by moonlight through a ghostly plain of sand strewn with human bones, the remains of an ancient battlefield. He scaled the summit of Kilauea during an eruption, standing at the crater’s edge on a foggy night, his face made crimson by lava-glow. He hiked through misty valleys. He surfed. He also tried swimming with nude native women, but when he got into the surf, they got out.”

Twain is just itching to tell of trouble he caused in paradise. At the event on Thursday, June 20th, Twain will be in discussion with Michael O’Malley. O’Malley moderated the 2012 great debate between two authors about where exactly Twain camped in the mid 1800s at Tahoe. O’Malley has promised to tease out tantalizing tidbits from the American Bard.

The “Mark Twain Sandwich Island Adventures” event is the first of the Gatekeeper’s Museum popular Third Thursdays events in 2013. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a no-host bar; the speakers begin at 6:30 p.m. This is free for NLTHS members and a suggested $10 for non-members.

The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society operates two museums in Tahoe City: Watson Cabin Museum and the Gatekeeper’s Museum, featuring the Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Collection showcasing more than 800 baskets from 85 tribes west of the Mississippi River. The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and present Lake Tahoe history both regionally and in the larger context of the American West.

The museum is open year ‘round. For seasonal hours, go to or call 530.583.1762. The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society preserves and presents Lake Tahoe history through programs and exhibits at the Gatekeeper’s Museum and the Watson Cabin Museum.

Photo by United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division

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