Are There Frozen Bodies at the Bottom of Lake Tahoe?

Sitting at 6,225 feet elevation as the largest alpine lake in North America, there is plenty to be fascinated with at Lake Tahoe. Its crystal-clear water is naturally filtered by two marshes on either side of the lake, making visibility possible nearly 100-feet underwater. But with the water standing at 1,645 feet deep, the second deepest in North America, there are still many mysteries surrounding Big Blue.

It’s said that French Explorer Jacques Cousteau did a deepwater dive into Lake Tahoe in the 1970’s, only to emerge with no documentation or photography. It is said that Cousteau emerged from the dive and claimed “the world isn’t ready for what was down there.”

On top of the legends of Tahoe Tessie, much like the Loch Ness Monster, Lake Tahoe holds a ton of human history dating at least 6,000 years back with the Washoe Tribe. With Lake Tahoe being one of the most fascinating lakes on the planet, we had to answer the question we receive all the time…

Are There Frozen Dead Bodies in Lake Tahoe?

As the story goes, a fisherman snagged something in the deep water offshore and it released quickly. Once the fisherman’s hook got the the surface, it had a human ear attached to it. The dead bodies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe are theorized to be the product of the mafia, who would “get rid of” their enemies and dump the bodies in the lake.

Locals have said that there is a section of the lake near the South Lake casinos called “The Grave” and if you were to take a submarine down to the bottom you would find hundreds of bodies wearing clothes from the the early to mid-1900’s. Due to the near-freezing temperatures at the bottom of the lake, the bodies would be highly preserved.

We do know the mob was influential on the Tahoe area in the 60’s and 70’s. Frank Sinatra owned the Cal-Neva and was rumored to have secret tunnels underneath, most famously known to accompany meetings for JFK and Marilyn Monroe. The owner of Bills Casino, Richard Chartrand, was killed in a car bomb in 1968 (classic mob hit). The stories of mob activity in the region are endless.

Let’s not forget, The Godfather 2 had a scene where Fredo was killed and dumped in the lake:

Another major theory of bodies in the lake is that of the Chinese railroad workers. It is said that after much of their work was done, their employers would kill the workers and dump their bodies in the lake. According to an article by the Reno Gazette Journal, Lake Tahoe was essentially a dumping ground for Chinese railroad workers’ bodies in the late 1800’s. They would be thrown into the lake by the hundreds while still alive and tied up in big groups and weighed down to sink to the bottom. A truly sad and morbid scene to imagine.

Whichever legend you choose to believe, there is certainly some truth to some of these stories. Are there thousands of frozen bodies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe. Maybe we’ll find out some day.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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