Chautauqua: "George Whittell, Jr. : Accidental Conservationist"
On Wednesday, July 21, at 6:30 pm, Steve Hale will present “George Whittell, Jr.: Eccentric playboy, accidental conservationist and owner of Thunderbird Lodge on Lake Tahoe’s east shore.”
George Whittell, Jr., lived off the interest generated by the millions he inherited from his parents. His enormous assets allowed him to purchase the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe where he built the Thunderbird Lodge in the 1930s. The house was designed by prominent Reno architect Frederick DeLongchamps. This included a six-hundred-foot tunnel connected to a boat house to berth the “Thunderbird,” his fifty-five-foot mahogany yacht.
In his sixties, Whittell's fondness for animals increased and his toleration of people waned. He often brought his favorite four-legged friends to Tahoe for the summer, including Mingo the elephant. He did maintain a small group of associates who joined him at the Thunderbird Lodge for high-stakes card games and all-night drinking parties in his Card House. Among his guests were baseball legend Ty Cobb and, purportedly, Howard Hughes. Following his death, Whittell left a legacy of public lands at Lake Tahoe and bequests to animal rights organizations.
Steve Hale has been presenting selected western historical figures for more than two decades. Hale has performed at state parks and national parks throughout the West coast, Yosemite’s Valley Theater during the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary, fundraising events, dinner theaters, commemorative events, Chautauqua venues, and in repertory with other Chautauqua performers. This event is $10 for adults, and free for members and youth 16 and younger.