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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Hermit of Emerald Bay

An Eccentric Caretaker

 
 
The Hermit of Emerald Bay Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, August 14, 2010
1. The Hermit of Emerald Bay Marker
Inscription. Captain Richard “Dick” Barter found his way to Lake Tahoe in the 1860s. Barter spent the long winters in Emerald Bay as the sole caretaker of a summer villa owned by Ben Holladay, Jr.

Originally an English sailor, Barter was known to row all the way to Tahoe City to visit the saloons. One such trip in 1870 nearly killed him. While rowing home, his small dinghy capsized in a sudden winter storm. The 65-year old sailor tied himself to the dinghy and rode out the storm. Afterward, Barter is said to have amputated two of his frostbitten toes with his carving knife and saved the toes to show visitors.

An Island Tomb
The near death experience prompted Barter to select Fannette Island as his final resting place. He excavated a tomb on the island’s summit and erected a small chapel over it. Despite his preparations, Barter never made it to the tomb. While rowing home one night in 1873, his dinghy was caught in a wild storm. This time, his dinghy flipped and his body was never recovered.
 
Location. 38° 56.792′ N, 120° 5.905′ W. Marker is near South Lake Tahoe, California, in El Dorado County. Marker can be reached from Emerald Bay Road (State Highway 89), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map
The Hermit of Emerald Bay Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, August 14, 2010
2. The Hermit of Emerald Bay Marker
. Marker is located at the Inspiration Point Rest Area. Marker is in this post office area: South Lake Tahoe CA 96150, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fannette Island (here, next to this marker); Tahoe By Car (here, next to this marker); Vikingsholm – A Scandinavian Castle (here, next to this marker); Da ow a ga – Lake Tahoe (here, next to this marker); Discover the Tallac Historic Site (approx. 2.8 miles away); Baldwin House & Tallac Museum (approx. 2.8 miles away); The Pope Estate (approx. 2.8 miles away); Pine Lodge-Erhman Mansion (approx. 7.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in South Lake Tahoe.
 
Regarding The Hermit of Emerald Bay. "In Ben Holladay's house at Emerald Bay is a masterly piece of workmanship in the shape of a full rigged man-of-war, with men, guns and all the usual appurtenances and appliances. This Dick made during his hermitage, and for the remainder of his time he floated idly upon the lake, took charge of Holladay's house and grounds, or worked upon his own grave! Strange as it may appear, on a rock island in Emerald Bay, he fashioned a grave out of solid rock, built over it a house, erected above it a Catholic cross, and gave directions to have his
Fannette Island in Emerald Bay image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, August 14, 2010
3. Fannette Island in Emerald Bay
Per a photo caption on the marker Barter's chapel now only survives in photographs.
body placed in the stony crypt. He loved the lake, and for hours at a time drifted about in his boat. At times he drank heavily, and when he felt the stupor of intoxication stealing over him he would row toward the middle of the lake, lie down in his boat and drift with the waves until he became sober. Poor Dick! he left Glenbrook one fearfully windy day much the worse for liquor, and off Rubicon Rocks his boat was seen to disappear. When the storm subsided his trusty boat was found crushed to minute fragments in the clefts of the rocks. One oar, much worn and chafed by rocks and waves, lay with the pieces of boat. The other oar was found three months afterwards in the same place, worn but slightly. The inference was plain. Captain Dick carried with him the last oar to the bottom of Tahoe. How it became detached from his death grip no one knows, but all his old friends regard this oar as a sad messenger sent to tell that Captain Dick's body has no further claims upon this upper world, not even upon the grave he prepared."
Sacramento Daily Record-Union, May 29, 1875.
 
Categories. Notable Persons
 
Fannette Island in Emerald Bay image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, August 14, 2010
4. Fannette Island in Emerald Bay
Fannette Island in Emerald Bay image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, August 7, 2009
5. Fannette Island in Emerald Bay
Viewed from the Tahoe Queen Tour Cruise
Fannette Island in Emerald Bay image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, August 7, 2009
6. Fannette Island in Emerald Bay
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 26, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 1,471 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 26, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   3, 4. submitted on August 27, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.   5, 6. submitted on May 20, 2012, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California.
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