“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Norden in Nevada County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Donner Summit Overlook

Donner Summit Overlook Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
1. Donner Summit Overlook Marker
“I don’t believe I have adequate words to describe the real beauty of Donner Pass. As we stood looking down I had a floating sensation… I lost all fear as I looked at one of the most beautiful blue lakes (Donner Lake) I have ever seen. Everything below us seemed suspended in shimmering light.” - Thornton Round, 1914, from The Lincoln Highway California.

Donner Pass is beautiful but its uniqueness comes from more than beauty. Its history is unique. You can stand on Donner Pass in the same place that Native Americans crossed for thousands of years, in the same place the remnants of the Donner Party crossed or that the first wagon train, the Stephens Party, (Stephens Peak is nearby) used. From that place you can see the first transcontinental highway and the first transcontinental railroad. Under your feet, or nearby, are transcontinental fiber optic cables and a gas pipeline. Overhead you can see the transcontinental air route and even higher, at night, you can see passing satellites.

A Good Story
Look east to Donner Lake and then right. That is Schallenberger Ridge. Moses Schallenberger and two companions stayed behind with most of the Stephens Party wagons in 1844. When his companions decided to follow the main group in to California, Moses remained alone for the
Donner Summit Overlook Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
2. Donner Summit Overlook Marker
winter. He ate coyote (“stringy”) and fox (edible) and survived in a little cabin that would be used by part of the Donner Party two years later. Moses was 17 years old. His friends came back for him in the spring and together they hiked over the Summit snow down to California. The Native Americans stripped the wagons - the first vehicle thefts in California?

Things to do right here
There is so much to do here: bike ride Old 40 to Cisco and back, watch the rock climbers, explore the petroglyphs, look for old ads painted on the rocks, trace the Lincoln Highway, check out China Wall, hike up Donner Peak (or Judah or Stephens or… ) Crazy snowboarders board down the rocky crags on the south side of the pass. You might not want to do that.
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society. (Marker Number 27.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the 20-Mile Museum - Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass, and the Donner Summit Historical Society marker series.
Location. 39° 19.156′ N, 120° 19.118′ W. Marker is near Norden, California, in Nevada County. Marker is on Donner Pass Road, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Norden CA 95724, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance
Donner Lake from Donner Summit Overview image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
3. Donner Lake from Donner Summit Overview
The road seen is the Old Highway 40 (Lincoln Highway) winding up the mountain.
of this marker. Donner Summit Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Stephens – Townsend – Murphy Party of 1844 (within shouting distance of this marker); Transcontinental Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); McGlashan Point (within shouting distance of this marker); Donner Pass (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Rainbow Bridge (about 300 feet away); The Snowsheds (about 700 feet away); Petroglyphs (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Norden.
More about this marker. This marker is located at the Donner Lake Overlook on Old Highway 40.
Regarding Donner Summit Overlook. This marker is removed every Fall for the winter months and replaced every Spring for the summer season.
Also see . . .  The 20-Mile Museum Brochure. Information and the listing of all the markers within this series. (Submitted on March 28, 2015.) 
Categories. Natural Features
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 231 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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