OpenROV explores the wreck of SS Tahoe
First commercially available ROV test dives on a historic Lake Tahoe steamship in Nevada.
February 8, 2017
With a speed of 18.5 knots, powered by two triple expansion engines each driving a three bladed propeller, sporting luxurious interiors, fancy wooden superstructure, a single funnel and a dove white steel hull, SS Tahoe was the largest passenger and mail steamship on Lake Tahoe. She was built in 1896 at the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, disassembled, rebuilt in Glebrook, Nevada, christened and launched into Lake Tahoe, departing from the railroad pier in Tahoe City, Nevada and servicing the lakeshore communities in both Nevada and California. By 1926, the end was near. Congress approved of the U.S. Highway system establishing U.S. Route 40 and U.S. Route 50. Both travelled the northern and southern shores of Lake Tahoe. By the 1930s, the WPA and CCC were helping to construct all weather concrete and asphalt highways across the nation, including the auto routes around Lake Tahoe. With all of her 200 passengers now travelling by car, Tahoe was forced to retire. In 1940, she was scuttled in hopes of being a shallow water diving attraction viewable by glass bottom boat, but poor reasearch of Lake Tahoe's geography instead had her descend a deep slope into over 300 feet of water. She was rediscovered in 2002 in remarkable condition thanks to the glacial freshwater of Lake Tahoe and her deep resting place. Her superstructure and funnel are still intact after over 70 years at the bottom.
In 2016, the company OpenROV began construction and design of a publicly available ROV capable of diving as deep as 328 feet. On one of the test dives of its v2.8 Kit model ROV, the little submersible caught stunning HD images of the Tahoe resting on the bottom and even went inside the wreck. Not only does this shed light on a forgotten historical shipwreck, but it also opens the door for thousands of people to now be able to explore parts of the Earth no average person has gone before and could aid in the discovery of future shipwrecks around the globe, making the once elusive depths and wrecks more accessable than ever. There are a number of wrecks on this website which are well within the ROV's diving limit.