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

Summit Valley

Summit Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
1. Summit Valley Marker
Inscription. History
Summit Valley has been the scene of human activity for thousands of years because it is a natural crossing of the Sierra. Native Americans traveled the valley moving from winter to summer residences. They left grinding rocks and arrowheads in the valley and petroglyphs in many nearby locations.

The first European Americans were excited to find Summit Valley after their monthsí long journey from the East. Summit Valley was a perfect rest place after the hard Summit crossing. Imagine standing here in 1850 watching a string of wagons on the opposite side of the valley on their final leg into California. Summit Valley then became a commercial travel route with the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Toll Road.

Thousands of Chinese railroad workers arrived at the summit in 1866 to build the transcontinental railroad. The railroad brought industry and eventually there were small communities along the railroad line. There were stores, lumber mills, dairies, ice harvesting companies, and many places for lodging.

The first transcontinental highway came through here in 1913 and that was succeeded by Highway 40 in 1928. Automobiles used this natural Sierra crossing as Americans began to travel independently.

Here you have mid-1860ís photographs of Summit Valley produced by Alfred Hart. The top
Summit Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
2. Summit Valley Marker
The marker is on the right.
picture shows the railroad, snowsheds and a hotel with Castle Peak in the distance. The middle, taken from Soda Springs Rd. at Soda Springs Ski Area shows the valley with Donner Peak in the background as does the bottom photograph.

Things to do right here
Summit Valley is mostly private property but nearby there are lots of opportunities for recreation. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Old 40 at the Summit. The Judah Loop off the PCT to the top of Mt. Judah is a spectacular hike. The view from Donner Peak is amazing - 1000 feet straight down to Donner Lake. On the north side of 40 Lake Angela and Mt. Stephens beckon. You can actually hike from Highway 40 to I-80 on the PCT.
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society. (Marker Number 17.)
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° 19.001′ N, 120° 21.022′ W. Marker is in Norden, California, in Nevada County. Marker is on Donner Pass Road, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 19941 Donner Pass Road, Norden CA 95724, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cal Lodge (here,
Summit Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
A.A. Hart, published by C.W. Watkins, circa 1868
3. Summit Valley Marker
next to this marker); Tri Lodges (a few steps from this marker); Norden Station (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sugar Bowl (approx. 0.7 miles away); Charlie Chaplinís Gold Rush (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Magic Carpet (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Lodge at Sugar Bowl (approx. 0.7 miles away); Summit Hotel (approx. 1.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Norden.
Categories. EnvironmentNative Americans
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 298 times since then and 78 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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