One of the most significant archaeological features of Lake Tahoe are several submerged small boats in Emerald Bay. First reported in the 1980’s by John Foster, former senior archaeologist for California State Parks, these vessels have excellent integrity and represent the maritime history of Lake Tahoe. They are referred to as Lake Tahoe’s “Mini-Fleet." Because of the historical significance of the Emerald Bay Barges and Mini-Fleet, the cultural and natural resources of Emerald Bay were designated as a state-recognized underwater park in 1994 with the help of Indiana University.
In a survey conducted by Indiana University in 2004, all of the Mini-Fleet vessels were determined to be historically significant. These vessels provide us a small glimpse of small boat activity on Lake Tahoe prior to WWII. The Mini-Fleet represents various changes in the complexity of small-boat construction in the early 20th century, including the transition from paddled kayak and rowboats to inboard and outboard motors.