Vikingsholm Castle – South Lake Tahoe, California - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

South Lake Tahoe, California

Vikingsholm Castle

One woman's Viking Castle on Lake Tahoe. 

Inspired by Scandinavian architecture and Viking lore, Vikingsholm Castle was built for Lora Josephine Knight in 1928-29 by 200 workers.

Before construction, ideas for Vikingsholm were gathered on a fact finding and photo mission to Scandinavia, where elements like the wooden reading nook were taken directly from existing historic buildings.

Antique locks and architectural details are worked in with locally sourced stone and wood, with some of the imported elements dating back as far as the 11th century.

In accordance with Knight’s wishes, no trees were cut down to build Vikingsholm, a task her architect later described as one of the hardest tasks he’s ever accomplished. As a result, the building is surrounded by towering trees.

Facing the blue green waters of Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe, the building was her summer home and retreat, designed for entertaining her friends. Across the waters on Fanette Island, she had a small stone tea house built, which now stands in picturesque ruin.

Today the home is part of the Emerald Bay state park, and is open to tours during the summer months, with most of the furnishings still in place from the era of the original occupancy. Visitors with boats can explore the tea house on Fanette Island at any time.