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Gatekeeper's Museum

Gatekeeper's Museum

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.

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

Marian Steinbach Indian Basket Museum

The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum was added to the Gatekeeper’s Museum in 1992, after her personal collection was donated to NLTHS. Marion Steinbach pursued a wide variety of interests throughout her lifetime, and loved anything that had to do with nature—the study of which inspired her collections.

Throughout her lifetime, Marion amassed a world-class collection of over 800 utilitarian and fine baskets from 85 tribes throughout California and western North America. In addition to collecting baskets, Marion also collected Native clothing, jewelry, tools and pottery. Pottery from Maria Martinez is featured in the collection.

Desire for knowledge about the art of basket weaving sent Marion looking for the few contemporary Indian women who were weaving fine baskets using traditional methods. Trips to remote areas frequently led to an afternoon sitting under a big shady oak tree, visiting with a weaver. Marion cultivated relationships with these women, and would sit with her notebook and pencil, taking meticulous notes, trying to learn as much as she could about this art. Her fear was that one day, these women of great skill would be gone and fine basketmaking would become a lost art. Sharing her knowledge by teaching basket weaving classes, talking with others and showing her baskets gave Marion much pleasure.

Along with her collection were extensive notes about basketry techniques and records of where, when and how much she originally paid for each basket. The collection was her treasure that she wanted to share with others. Her wish was that the baskets remain together displayed as a single collection. After her passing, the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society received the collection from Marion’s family, and helped to realize Marion’s dream with the construction of the Steinbach Indian Basket Museum to house her collection.

Special Exhibits

Woven Legacy: A Collection of Dat-so-la-lee Works, 1900-1921

Dat So La Lee is one of the most famous Washoe weavers of all time. These wondrous miniatures -- mind-boggling to behold -- are displayed in a re-creation of Hurley's Cottage, home of Amy Cohn's Tahoe City curio shop, courtesy of collection owner Gene Quintana. Don't miss this rare opportunity to view such an unique piece of Tahoe history.

The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society was founded in 1969 by a group of concerned citizens who were passionate about preserving Lake Tahoe history. The Society is the local caretaker of Gatekeeper's Museum, Watson Cabin and Marian Steinbach Indian Basket Museums.


Seasons Open

Year-round, limited hours in winter


Gatekeepers/Basket Museum - Visit website for admission fees.

Nearby Places