The Origin of Fallen Leaf Lake
Washoe Indian Legend
The following is courtesy of the Tahoe Heritage Foundation with contributions by local residents and organizations.
Long, long ago, before the white man came to Nevada, there lived in the meadow over beyond Glenbrook, a Good Indian who was much annoyed by the Evil Spirit who interfered with all that he tried to do. When he tried to escape to the valleys of California, the Evil One was always there waiting to trip him in some way. The Good Spirit came to his aid, giving him a leafy brach which had certain magic qualities. As he started his journey, if he saw the Evil One coming, he was to drop a bit of the branch, and water would immediately spring up. The Evil One could not cross water and this would allow the Good Indian time to escape.
When the Good Indian arrived at the site of the current Visitor’s Center, he saw the Evil One off in the distance approaching with such strides that his heart filled with fear. In his terror he tried to pluck off a leaf, but the branch snapped and he dropped almost the whole thing. To his delight and relief the waters began to rise and soon Tahoe – the Big Water – lay between him and his enemy.
When he reached the spot where the head of Fallen Leaf Lake lies, he turned and again saw the Evil One advancing. A new terror filled his soul. In his hand remained only one little twig with a single leaf on it. Plucking the leaf, he threw it down and watched it fall waveringly through the air. As it touched the earth the waters began to rise and Doolagoga – Fallen Leaf – sprang into being. On its surface floated the little leaf.
He hurried on up the ravine, dropping bits of twig whenever he thought that the Evil One was about to overtake him, and in his path Lily, Grass, Susie, Heather and the lakes of Desolation came up to guard him on his way.