One of the great impersonators of Mark Twain in the last few decades is McAvoy Layne who calls Incline Village, Nevada on the north shore of Lake Tahoe home. Layne has played Mark Twain on stage over 4,000 times and below is a video of one of those performances that McAvoy calls the “Ghost of Mark Twain” and a great performance it is!
In 2016 John Burke of the Las Vegas PBS program Outdoor Nevada caught up with McAvoy Layne at Lake Tahoe for “A Day with Mark Twain” which takes folks to Virginia City, Carson City, and the spot where Samuel Clemens first spotted Lake Tahoe on the eastside of the Lake. McAvoy Layne’s website is —–> www.ghostoftwain.com
Samuel Clemens and a friend hiked from Carson City to Lake Tahoe, a distance of 20-something miles, in August/September 1861 and spent two weeks at the Lake which Mark Twain later detailed in his book Roughing It >
“It was the end of August, and the skies were cloudless and the weather superb. In two or three weeks I had grown wonderfully fascinated with the curious new country and concluded to put off my return to “the States” awhile. I had grown well accustomed to wearing a damaged slouch hat, blue woolen shirt, and pants
North Lake Tahoe, Nevada + California
crammed into boot-tops, and gloried in the absence of coat, vest and braces. I felt rowdyish and “bully,” (as the historian Josephus phrases it, in his fine chapter upon the destruction of the Temple). It seemed to me that nothing could be so fine and so romantic. I had become an officer of the government, but that was for mere sublimity. The office was an unique sinecure. I had nothing to do and no salary. I was private Secretary to his majesty the Secretary and there was not yet writing enough for two of us. So Johnny K——and I devoted our time to amusement. He was the young son of an Ohio nabob and was out there for recreation. He got it. We had heard a world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally curiosity drove us thither to see it. Three or four members of the Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp. We strapped a couple of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started—for we intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy. We were on foot. The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback. We were told that the distance was eleven miles. We tramped a long time on level ground, and then toiled laboriously up a mountain about a thousand miles high and looked over. No lake there. We descended on the other side, crossed the valley and toiled up another mountain three or four thousand miles high, apparently, and looked over again. No lake yet. We sat down tired and perspiring, and hired a couple of Chinamen to curse those people who had beguiled us. Thus refreshed, we presently resumed the march with renewed vigor and determination. We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”
The Mark Twain Trail is a series of Mark Twain Adventure + Education Visitor Centers in the cities of Virginia City, Nevada + Incline Village, Nevada + San Francisco, California + Angels Camp, California + Honolulu, Hawaii where visitors can learn about how Samuel Clemens evolved into the Great Mark Twain.