Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lake Tahoe: Vikingsholm Castle - Medieval Marvel

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
Phone: 530-541-3030

This is my second participation in ABC Wednesday. For other "V" themed posts, visit the ABC Wednesday home page.


  1. Wow! What a gorgeous place! And thank you for the really interesting history! Your photos are superb! And what a great post for the V day! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!


  2. What a gorgeous castle and the view up there is worth all the climbing!

  3. I don't care about the climb I am okey with that I just want to feel and be in that beautiful place. Awesome picture too. Happy Wednesday!

    My letter V‘s

  4. That's a good 'V' participation. I've been to Tahoe only once and I think I heard about that island and house. A mile long, steep climb is a bit much for me at any altitude!
    Hope you didn't get too shaken up with last night's earthquake.

  5. Its quite a huff and puff walk down to Vikingsholm but well worth the effort.
    I could sure live there. its beautiful.

  6. it looks like a fabulous place! From the architecture to the setting, the climb would be worth it. Great job on your second post. Love the pics and the information.

    And, as for capturing the owl in flight? Nothing that was planned. Just point, zoom, auto focus and pray...fast!

  7. charming and refreshing v post.

  8. It looks and sounds beautiful. I would love to visit one day.

  9. What a lovely place to spend my whole summer! I've never been into castle before.

  10. We were at Tahoe in 2008 and I had no clue that this existed. Shame about the access as I don't think I could manage the ascending trail but it sounds like a really interesting place. It must have been a spectacular private home.

  11. All those summers we spent in Tahoe .... this would have made for a great day of sightseeing. Something tells me the next time you visit I am going to be making that 1 mile trek after all :D

  12. Vikingsholm Castle is indeed beautiful, and Lora Knight quite the woman. Enjoyed this great V post.

  13. Great place.
    Please come back regularly - ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  14. So awesome! I love visiting Tahoe. Next time, I will have to hunt this castle down!

    Hood Photo Blog

  15. Wow! Absolutely amazing place. As a fairy tale!

  16. How wonderful to have a dream and the money to make it happen, what fun she must have had bringing to fruition in such a beautiful place.

  17. Well that's a place I should like to visit! I love Scandinavia and this is almost exactly what you can find in Norway, which is my favourite European country! Thanks for this information, Gayle!

  18. What a fun post, and lovely pictures! Castles fascinate me - the way those that can build and live in castles live fascinates me.

  19. very interesting take on the theme!

  20. Must have been a very poor lady, lol !

  21. Thank you for this post and a visit I so enjoyed.

    Also, thanks for dropping by my place today. I'm so glad you got a kick out of my V.

  22. Thanks so much for your contribution - We are coming to the end of the current round and plans are in store for the next round, I do hope you will be part of the fun!

    Denise Nesbitt
    ABC Wednesday founder & team member

  23. My kind of geography and house. You have a beautiful blog. I'm Marilyn's friend, Bea Jay.

  24. Fascinating! I've never heard about the castle and have visited the area a number of times. Thanks for sharing this.