No monsters or mobsters were found, but divers found gold

STATELINE, Nev. — They found no trace of a mythical sea monster, no sign of mobsters in concrete shoes or long-lost treasure chests.

But divers who spent a year cleaning up Lake Tahoe’s entire 72-mile shoreline have walked away with what they hope will turn out to be much more valuable: tons and tons of trash.

In addition to removing 25,000 pounds of underwater debris since last May, divers and volunteers have been meticulously classifying and recording the types and GPS locations of the debris.

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The dozens of dives that concluded this week were part of a first-of-its-kind effort to learn more about the source and potential harm caused by plastics and other contaminants in the famed alpine lake on the California-Nevada line.

Debris and trash collected during the year-long Lake Tahoe cleanup are shown.
Tires are seen in the foreground of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in May 1972. From 1972 to 1977, the US Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA program documented issues of

It also took organizers on a journey through the history, folklore, and development of the lake atop the Sierra Nevada that contains enough water to cover all of California 14 inches deep.

Diamond rings, plastic owls and shipwreck planks

The Washoe Tribe fished the turquoise blue Tahoe for centuries before westward expansion in the mid-19th century brought railroads, lumber barons, and eventually a Gatsby-like decline in what became a playground for the rich and famous.

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