A proposal to name a small inlet on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe in honor of Mark Twain was turned down Thursday on a 5-to-4 vote of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
Louis Yost, executive secretary for the board, said in an email that members rejected the proposal because of opposition from the U.S. Forest Service and uncertainty over whether Twain actually camped at the spot, as proponents contend.
A Bee story Thursday highlighted controversy over the proposal in which Twain enthusiasts in Nevada have clashed with a California researcher over the iconic author's whereabouts at the lake in 1861.
David Antonucci, a retired water quality engineer from Tahoe's west shore, contends Twain actually camped in California, near present-day Tahoe Vista. Bob Stewart, a member of the Nevada State Board on Geographic Names and author of the proposal to name the inlet Sam Clemens Bay, is convinced Twain was in Nevada.
"I am of course disappointed," Stewart said by email.
Antonucci said he was surprised and pleased.
"It does vindicate, to some degree, the alternative theory that he was on the north shore," said Antonucci who plans to publish a book about his findings.
The Forest Service said in a letter to the U.S. board that Twain's visit to Lake Tahoe in 1861 and his vivid descriptions of it in his book "Roughing It" were not enough to warrant putting his given name Sam Clemens on the map.
"While he later became famous and captured the hearts of American literature, it was not because of his very short visit to Lake Tahoe years earlier nor based on his visit to this cove," wrote Terri Marceron, former supervisor of the Forest Service's Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.