Photo: Vikingsholm Castle, Lake Tahoe, CA
Wouldn’t it be nice to visit friends for the summer where upon arrival your car would be washed, serviced and filled with gas, compliments of the host. Only in your dreams? Such was the hospitality of Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight, owner of Vikingsholm Castle.
Photo: Lora Josephine Knight
Mrs. Knight was a wealthy widow who had vacationed in Lake Tahoe for several years. In 1928 she paid $250,000 for 239 acres of land at the head of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay so she could build a summer home.
Photo: Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Impressed by Nordic architecture and inspired by the fjord-like location of Emerald Bay, Mrs. Knight decided to have her house built in a Scandinavian design. She traveled to Scandinavia with her architect to gather ideas and brought in 200 skilled workers to carry out the construction, careful not to disturb any of the property’s magnificent trees. The result was Vikingsholm Castle, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the West.
Photo: Vikingsholm Castle - Rooftop dragon eaves
Photo: Vikingsholm Castle - Sod roof
Photo: Vikingsholm Castle - Dragon ceiling beam
Intricate designs were carved by hand and much of the house was built without nails, pegs or other fasteners. A sod roof, known for its insulating value in Scandinavia, covers both the north and south wings of the home. Dragon beams, modeled after those in a Viking castle, decorate the living room ceiling and artful paintings grace some interior walls and ceilings.
Photo: Vikingsholm Castle dining room (by M Laaker)
Furnishings for Vikingsholm were hand-selected by Knight and included a number of original antiques. Museum pieces that couldn’t be purchased were reproduced to the exact detail, right down to the original scratches. Knight went to great lengths to enhance and carry out the Scandinavian theme and enjoyed sharing her majestic home with summer guests. One such guest was Helen Henry Smith, who spent summers at Vikingsholm during the 1930s. Forty-one years ago she returned to Vikingsholm and has been a tour guide and Vikingsholm historian at the castle ever since.
The public is invited to experience Vikingsholm Castle – guided tours last approximately 30 minutes and operate daily from Memorial Day weekend until the end of September. Prices are $5 for adults and $3 for ages 6 to 17. Children under 6 are free. Limited parking is available in the Vikingsholm parking lot off of Highway 89 and parking fees may apply. Tip: arrive early in the day for best parking opportunities; the lot does fill up. A word of caution: You must walk a steep one-mile trail from the parking lot to the castle. There are resting places along the trail, but remember the elevation at Lake Tahoe is over 6,000 feet, so plan accordingly.
More information: Vikingsholm Castle
Location: Hwy 89 at Emerald Bay State Park
9999 Emerald Bay Road, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
This is my second participation in ABC Wednesday. For other "V" themed posts, visit the ABC Wednesday home page.