High Noon – July How Captain George Whittell Saved Lake Tahoe

Event Series Event Series: High Noon

July 18 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

How Captain George Whittell Saved Nevada’s Lake Tahoe

Bill Watson, Executive Director, Thunderbird Lodge
July 18, 2024 – Noon

Virtual Program. Register: https://events.washoecountylibrary.us/event/11983481

Nevada Historical Society presents High Noon with Neal Cobb, a wonderful history series that delves into fascinating Nevada topics with local experts. Neal Cobb is a passionate historian and honorary curator for the Nevada Historical Society. He loves all things Nevada. Join Neal Cobb and our monthly speakers as we explore interesting topics and join in the audience conversations.

Title of Program:

Summary of Program: History of Thunderbird Lodge and George Whitell, Jr.
Construction of the Thunderbird Lodge was begun in 1936 by a man named George Whittell, Jr., or as he was more commonly called, the “Captain.” At the time, Whittell owned approximately 40,000 acres and 20 miles of Nevada shoreline at Lake Tahoe and had plans to develop the land into high-class summer properties, a ski resort, and a $1 million hotel-casino. However, as Whittell grew older, his interest in animals, nature and privacy far outweighed his desire for more money and he held onto much of the property until his death in 1969.

July speaker: 

Bill Watson

Bio: Bill Watson is the Chief Executive and Curator of the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society. A passionate historian that raised over $6 million to preserve this historic museum estate from demolition. In 2006, Bill co-founded Foundation 36 with former casino colleagues to help safeguard Nevada’s natural, cultural, and historical treasures. In 2011, he worked to save Red’s Ranch in Lamoille, Nevada from development. Red’s Ranch is now a Nevada Heritage Park where artifacts from around the State are restored, conserved, and displayed to the public. Bill spent 30 years in the field of hospitality and casino gaming technology. Following the sale of his company, Casino Marketplace, he served as General Manager of Bally Gaming and Systems, retiring in 2003.

Outside of his professional endeavors, Bill cherishes time spent in the serene landscapes of Lake Tahoe and Lamoille, Nevada. An enthusiastic outdoorsman, he enjoys exploring, hiking, biking, and paddling alongside his faithful Australian cattle dog.


Thunderbird Lodge and Yacht


About Thunderbird Lodge: The magical Thunderbird Lodge National Historic Site is the centerpiece of Thunderbird Lake Tahoe. This historic home of George Whittell, Jr. is a museum and learning center for the charitable programs of the non-profit Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society that was created back in 1999. In 2000, the George Whittell Estate (Thunderbird Lodge) was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to the Thunderbird Lodge historic site and THUNDERBIRD yacht, Thunderbird Lake Tahoe operates a variety of museums and collections for public interpretation and education about topics of regional significance. Thunderbird safeguards more than 25,000 items in its extensive collection of Lake Tahoe maps, paintings, photography, drawings, artwork, documents, films, and 3D artifacts.


Event Tags:
, , ,


1650 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89503 United States
+ Google Map
Phone: 775-688-1190