The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society (NLTHS) was founded in 1969 by a group of local residents intent on preserving the history of Lake Tahoe, including buildings and historic sites. The group incorporated as a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization in 1971.
Rebuild and opened in 1981
Under the leadership of the NLTHS, the North Lake Tahoe community came together to rebuild the Gatekeeper’s Cabin. The log cabin was faithfully reconstructed—completely by hand (except for tree cutting), using block and tackle to raise the beams and roofing — on the old foundation. The Gatekeeper's Museum opened in July 1981.
Marion Steinbach Addition 1995
In 1992, Marion Steinbach’s widower, Henry A. Steinbach, donated his wife’s impressive Indian Basket collection to the NLTHS. The NLTHS then built a state-of-the-art annex attached to the Gatekeeper’s Museum, to house and display the collection. The Edmund S. Barnett Building/Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum opened in June 1995.
The NLTHS then spent the next seven years negotiating with Sierra Pacific Power Company to purchase the Gatekeeper's Cabin and surrounding acreage, with the goal of listing the building on the National Register of Historic Places and then opening it to the public as a museum. The power company planned to raze the historic cabin and build condominiums on the land. In 1978, just before the deed was signed, a group of kids playing in the Gatekeeper’s Cabin set fire to the abandoned structure, and it burned to the ground in a matter of minutes.
In 1979, the NLTHS and the Tahoe City Public Utility District (TCPUD) purchased Watson Cabin in the center of Tahoe City. The building remained a retail store for a number of years, but in 1988 the NLTHS signed an eighty-year lease with the TCPUD. In 1990, the NLTHS opened Watson Cabin as a living history museum, which is open to the public free of charge during the summer season.