Pyramid Lake, located 40 miles northeast of Reno, Nevada, is a remnant of the ancient inland sea, Lake Lahontan. The lake is on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation and has no outlet. After leaving Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River ends here depositing moderately silt-loaded runoff into the lake. Pyramid Lake is about 27 miles long, 11 miles across, and has a maximum depth of 350 feet. The salinity is about 1/6 that of seawater.
Fremont named the lake after the pyramidal-shaped island that lies along the eastern shore in 1844. This is one of the numerous tufa formations found in and around the lake. Many of the tufa deposits were formed when the climate was much wetter and the ancient inland sea, Lake Lahontan, covered much of northern Nevada. About 13,000 to 26,000 years ago calcium-rich springs combined with carbonate in the lake water to form tufa mounds. One notable tufa rock formation resembles a hooded Indian woman, the Stone Mother, seated with an open basket lying next to her. A commonly told story by the Paiute people is that the Stone Mother grieved for her lost children and cried day after day filling the lake below her.
The Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in Pyramid Lake. President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 established the sanctuary for nesting birds. Each spring and summer about 8,000 to 10,000 American white pelicans make the island their home. California seagulls, cormorants, great blue herons, and bald eagles will be seen in winter and early spring. Boaters are kept 500 feet from the island to protect this bird sanctuary.
In 1888 commercial fishermen harvested about 100 tons of cutthroat trout to ship throughout the United States. By the 1940s, the cutthroat trout were gone and restocking the lake began in the 1950s. Today it is not uncommon to find 5-10 pound cutthroat trout in the lake. Visitors may tour the world class fisheries found at Pyramid Lake.
Green, Michael S., and Susan Allen. Myers. Nevada: A Journey of Discovery. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2005. 36. Print.
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