Nevada Sternwheeler Wins Annual Tahoe Race

Lake Tahoe
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As thousands of spectators watched, Nevada's M.S. Dixie II edged California's Tahoe Queen in the sixth annual Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race.

The 450-passenger Nevada boat beat its 500-passenger California rival by nine seconds Saturday over the six-mile course off South Lake Tahoe in the closest finish ever in the series.

The Nevada sternwheeler won for the first time in three years to take a 4-2 series lead.

Billed as the only authentic race of its kind west of the Mississippi River, the contest pits the two largest paddlewheelers at the Sierra lake straddling the California-Nevada border.

The Zephyr Cove, Nev.-based M.S. Dixie II and South Lake Tahoe-based Tahoe Queen haul tourists to Emerald Bay and other popular attractions at North America's largest alpine lake.

The Nevada boat's winning time was 35 minutes, 20 seconds. The California-Nevada line serves as the race's start and finish line.

Both sternwheelers were filled to capacity with visitors, many of whom wore 1800s-period costumes. Among them was actress Loni Anderson, who was aboard the Tahoe Queen.

The race kicks off an annual Labor Day weekend celebration at Tahoe that also includes air and fireworks shows.