Gatekeeper's Museum & Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum

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Good for about a 2-hour excursion if you do both museums. We suggest you also cross the street and walk over to the river. The Bridgetender restaurant is right across the street and serves a mean burger. Ask for outside seating if they have it, and enjoy the sound of the rushing river. 

The Gatekeeper’s Museum is a reconstruction of the original Gatekeeper’s Cabin, on the same site where the original stood until it was destroyed by arson fire in the early 1980s.

The original Gatekeeper’s cabin was built by Robert Montgomery Watson—also the builder of the Watson Cabin—to be the home of the Watermaster who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe. We still have a Watermaster, but s/he no longer lives in this cabin. Instead, the cabin showcases Tahoe history, from the Washoe people through the logging and mining eras and the establishment of the tourism industry at Lake Tahoe. Exhibits include Native American baskets, resort memorabilia, historical photographs, clothing, oral histories, maps, archival documents, newspapers and artifacts.

Our resource library allows researchers on-site access to historical documents. Copies of historic photographs can also be ordered and purchased from the Museum.

Some highlights include:

1916 Lake Tahoe Photographic Shore Line Survey Exhibit
Lake Tahoe Resorts & Clothing
Washoe history
Works from Dat-so-la-lee, Maggie Mayo James and other famous Washoe weavers
Steamers and boating history
1960 Olympics and skiing exhibits

Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum
The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum, co-located with the Gatekeeper’s Museum, 130 West Lake Boulevard, Tahoe City, California, was added to the Gatekeeper’s Museum in 1992. After passing away in 1991, Marion Steinbach donated her entire personal collection to the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. The Society and her husband, Hank Steinbach worked together to build the additional museum that now houses the collection.

The museum is home to a world-class collection of over 800 utilitarian and fine baskets from 85 tribes throughout California and western North America. In addition to baskets, the collection also includes Native clothing, jewelry, tools and pottery. Dat-so-la-lee, Maria Martinez, Maggie Mayo James and many other famous Washoe weavers work also feature in the collection.

The museum’s impressive collection is the result of one woman’s passion, Marion Schlichtmann Steinbach (of no relation to John Steinbeck). Marion purchased her first basket from a weaver in Lee Vining, California, in the eastern part of the state, when she was just 16 years old. By the time she was in her 40s, living in Palo Alto, Steinbach had become a collector, dealer, and expert in Northern California baskets. She traveled all over the western United States specifically to purchase baskets, all of which are now part of the collection on display at the museum.

Steinbach died in 1991 and requested that her baskets remain together as a single collection. Her husband, Hank Steinbach, worked with the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society to build the museum that now houses the collection.