Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Friday, July 23, 2004  

Mark Twain, Washoe’s Big Water, Comstock Lode, and Trophy Homes

Chapter Three: The Outpost

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

“It (the Lewis and Clark government funded expedition) therefore set a precedent and helped serve as a model for those that followed it. It was the first American exploring party to cross the continent to the Pacific Ocean. By doing so it helped blaze a path that others would follow and that strengthened the United States’ claim to the Pacific Northwest.“

James J. Holmberg

SACRAMENTO, California --

Journal of 2020 Foresight: That’s quite a story, but, what about the Mother Lode, and more importantly, where are we going?

Explorer: Well, if we wanted to visit the Mother Lode, we could visit any one of nearly 550 gold mining towns that proliferated along the 120 miles of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

Eagle: Thousands of prospectors – the so-called ‘49ers – came and went in pursuit of get-rich-quick dreams. Today facades of the surviving buildings, historical parks, ghost towns and the remnants of empty mines stretch from Mariposa to Sierra City along SR 49.

Explorer: Extracting gold and growing agricultural commodities formed the basis of what Pine and Gilmore call the Agrarian Economy, which provided a subsistence level of existence for families and small communities for millennia. At the Agrarian Economy’s zenith in eighteenth-century United States, more than 80% of the workforce was employed on farms. Today, less than 3 percent of the population works on farms.

J2020F: Is that where we’re headed? To the ranches, farms and vineyards?

Explorer: If it were, we’d start northeast of San Francisco along SR 29 is where you find the heart of wine country – between Napa and St. Helena.

Eagle: But other wine-producing regions include San Joaquin Valley, the Sierra foothills, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Salinas Valley, the central coast, the counties of Mendocino and Santa Clara, and Temecula Valley.

J2020F: You’ve mentioned some of the regions where are they?

Eagle: Well, running first south and then west to the Pacific Ocean, the Russian River flows from Ukiah past redwood groves, vineyards, resorts, state reserves until it reaches it’s mouth just north of Sonoma Coast State Beach.

Explorer: Or, if you want to live among more redwoods, then Redwood National Park, between Crescent City and Orick is home to the tallest of the giant coastal redwoods in Redwood country, also home of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Further south, the Avenue of the Giants running alongside of US 101 between Phillipsville and Pepperwood, winds through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

J2020F: The state reserves and parks appeal more to recreational pursuits – a kind of back to nature lifestyle?

Eagle: Yes, but wait there’s more! Desert Country stretches thousands of square miles through arid and semiarid terrain in the southeast region. There you’ll find cactus, sagebrush, Joshua trees and palm oases, and wildflowers among the golfers, fishermen, boaters, campers and hikers.

J2020F: I take it you’re talking about Palm Springs and Palm Desert, the Colorado River, Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Explorer: One of my favorites can be seen almost every six months or so on television. When the car companies roll out a new ad campaign they love to show off their new car road-hugging performance along the ruggedly beautiful seacoast of Big Sur Country.

Eagle: Stretching roughly 10 miles south of Carmel to a few miles south of Lucia, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The steep-sided canyons filled with coastal redwood groves, border the twists and turns that define SR1.

J2020F: What about where I met Trailblazer at the Ridge?

Explorer: Right. The Eastern Sierra Country extends along the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada accessible by US 395. Home to year-round recreational opportunities the towns of Bishop, Lone Pine and Mammoth Lakes are major outpost centers.

J2020F: So, you’ve convinced me California has a lot to offer, for those trading places – but where are we going now?

Explorer: Hang on. Take a right at that intersection. We’ll be following an old stagecoach route beginning in Placerville.Take US 50 east.

Eagle: Placerville, which got its name from a commodity -- the deposit of sand or grain containing valuable minerals – a placer. Of course, today it is considerably tamer than its legacy of a lawless, prosperous mining town whose buildings were constructed over two decades from 1850 to 1870.

J2020F: So Placerville is our destination? I thought we narrowed the possible Grey Owl locations to other towns. I don’t remember Placerville being on the list.

Explorer: No, you’re right. We’re not stopping. We’re only passing through on our way to late maturity community that has had to change almost as dramatically as the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Journal of 2020 Foresight: If Placerville isn’t our destination and we’re on our way to late maturity community that has had to change almost as dramatically as the Hudson’s Bay Company. Then Grey Owl is more likely to be found in Del Mar (Southern Platinum Coast), St. Helena (Wine Country), Calistoga (Wine Country), or Lake Tahoe (Gold Country)?

Explorer: It’s Lake Tahoe. We’re about 10 miles from Camino outside of Placerville, where Horace Greeley and Mark Twain stayed – the Pacific House, an inn built over a hundred years ago, in 1859.

Eagle: Wow. Here we are roughly 22 miles from Lake Tahoe near Echo Summit at 7300 feet and descending towards Lake Tahoe. Look at that. It’s easy to see why the high valley situated between the Sierra Nevada and Carson mountain ranges became a premier winter sports resort area.

J2020F: I see what you mean. The view is breath taking.

Explorer: The lake is the third deepest in North America over 1600 feet deep. The locals claim the water in Lake Tahoe is 97 percent pure, nearly the same as distilled water. Remarkably clear and deep blue, the lake is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide; about one-third lies in Nevada.

Eagle: Lake Tahoe, itself, holds enough water to cover the entire state of California to a depth of 14 inches.

Eagle: The 'lake in the sky,' at an elevation of 6,229 feet, lies in a valley between the main Sierra Nevada and an eastern offshoot, the Carson Range. The mountains rise more than 4,000 feet above the resort-lined shore."

J2020F: How did it get its name?

Explorer: It was named “Big Water” by the Washoe Indians.

Eagle: Their legend says Lake Tahoe was created when an Evil Spirit was in pursuit of an innocent Indian. Attempting to aid the Indian, the Great Spirit gave him a branch of leaves; each leaf dropped would produce a body of water that the Evil Spirit would have to circumvent. But during the chase, the Indian dropped the whole branch in fright -- creating Lake Tahoe.

J2020F: Evil Spirit, huh? So that’s what pointed us here? Paul Newman, Film Festival, Ghosts in the River, Snow in Hell, and Million Dollars?

Explorer: Well, we have the Evil Spirit and the Great Spirit. We have the set for Bonanza, the popular television series. If you asked members of the Donner Party – I’m sure they would have told you their ordeal would have qualified as snow in hell.

Eagle: Look at those trophy homes – well worth over a million dollars a piece.

J2020F: Weren’t immigrants and miners lured to the rugged Sierra by tales of fortunes made during the California gold rush?

Eagle: Yes. And the resulting tension between riches and resources ensued.

J2020F: What do you mean?

Eagle: The discovery of the Comstock Lode increased traffic and depleted the Tahoe Basin's natural resources to a dangerously low level.

Explorer: Historians will tell you, if it weren’t for the decline in the Comstock Lode, Tahoe’s forests would have been destroyed during the 30 years following the Confederate War as its lumber industry strained to fuel and support the network of mines constructed under Virginia City.

Eagle: Between 1860 and 1890 lumber was needed for fuel to support the web of mines constructed beneath Virginia City.

J2020F: So, the decline of the Comstock Lode was likely the saving grace for Tahoe's forests -- the Eldorado, Tahoe and Toiyabe National Forests?

Explorer: Yes, by the early 1900s natural beauty of the lake had become a retreat for the rich. Elaborate hotels began dotting the shores.

Eagle: Eventually, roads were paved during the 1920s and '30s, and Lake Tahoe no longer was available only to the wealthy. As development continued in the 1950s, roads were plowed during the winter, enabling year-round residence.

J2020F: So the region has a hundred year love - hate relationship between the environment and development?

Explorer: Yes, so much so that in 1968 the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was established, ensuring environmentally responsible development for years to come.

Eagle: The planning agency was created by both California and Nevada -- the state line bisects the lake -- and ratified by Congress in 1980. Among its purposes is to preserve the basin's scenery by governing man's intrusions in the environment.

J2020F: I understand that many feel that the lake's scenery has steadily deteriorated since 1982, when officials first assessed the visual effect of structures.

Eagle: True. Experts in visual aesthetics divided the lake into 33 shoreline segments. They found that some segments have not worsened and a few have even improved with the removal of old homes and tired motels.

Explorer: But, this more analytical approach also revealed that nearly half the areas have been visually degraded by development over the last two decades.

J2020F: Isn’t this just the natural political tension between the haves and the have-nots?

Explorer: One side feels that Lake Tahoe is a unique, scenic jewel that was allowed to develop, where it should have been a national park.

Eagle: And the other side feels victimized.

J2020F: How so?

Eagle: They say the trophy homes are part of the attraction.

J2020F: So the tourists come to look at the houses – those spectacular shoreline trophy homes?

Explorer: And besides, they’ll tell you the people building the big homes are the ones paying the taxes.

J2020F: So what happened next?

Eagle: The planners said luxurious waterfront building had gone overboard, so they placed a ban on mansion-scale homes that have risen along the shoreline over the last 15 years.

Explorer: While the loyal opposition will challenge in court, the environmental forces hope to return the lake's natural scenic qualities to 1982 levels by trying to conceal man's intrusions in the alpine basin.

J2020F: All I know, is the snow skiing and snow boarding enthusiasts flock to Lake Tahoe each year to enjoy their favorite winter sport-- Heavenly, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.

Eagle: Flocking to the lake happens year round. The lake has two distinct approaches: the North Shore via I-80 and the South Shore via US 50. The North Shore has a more rural atmosphere with small lakeside towns, while the South Shore places such as South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, Nev., are more metropolitan and have casinos, more shopping areas and restaurants.

Explorer: That's why it's so popular -- a little something for almost everyone. There's Incline Village, in Nevada. Incline Village's major attraction is Ponderosa Ranch, a Western-style theme park featuring the original Cartwright ranch house from the television show "Bonanza." Park highlights include a saloon, museum, kiddyland, playground, petting farm and mystery mine.

Eagle: And Zephyr Cove offering sightseeing cruises.

J2020F: And, what about the California attractions?

Eagle: South Lake Tahoe area tourists visit the D.L. Bliss State Park, Heavenly Tram, Tallac Historic Site, and Vikingsholm at the southwest end of Emerald Bay -- a 38-room reproduction of a ninth-century Norse fortress.

Explorer: And don't forget about Heavenly. Heavenly completed their new gondola in 2000 that is anchored between lodges and runs for 2.4 miles. Taking roughly 10 minutes to reach 3000 feet, the gondola was the first major element of the redevelopment efforts.

J2020F: While we're here, we should take it to check out the view.

Got Knowledge?
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.

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