“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 Hotel

Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass

Summit Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
1. Summit Hotel Marker
Captions: Pictured top: The first Summit Hotel attached to the snowsheds leading to Tunnel 6, center, and the round house with the cupola, center. Center: the second Summit Hotel. (It sat in the forest to the left from this spot). Bottom: the view to the from door of Summit Hotel I through the snowsheds.
The coming of the railroad made it easy for well-heeled tourists to visit Donner Summit and with the building of a large hotel, they came. Whole families came to enjoy the summit and stay for weeks at a time.

The first Summit Hotel was built in 1870, the year after the railroad was completed, and was called the Cardwell House. It sat right next to the railroad and not far from Tunnel 6. It burned in 1892 and a new hotel was immediately built a little west of the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Rd.

The original Cardwell House had 78 bedrooms, sitting rooms, ladies parlor, a dining room and saloon. The new Summit Hotel had 87 rooms, a very nice billiard room, and could accommodate 320 guests at one time in the dining room. In addition to the hotel, it had a grocery store, meat market, post office, postal telegraph office, and a dry goods store. It had one bathtub and a two story red painted outhouse (ladies on the second floor and gentlemen on the first). It took one man, full time, to deal with all the oil lamps and wood stoves. The hotel had its own sawmill to keep it supplied with wood for heating and cooking. Eventually the hotel got its own Delco Electric Plant when it switched to electricity.

The hotel employed dozens of workers: chambermaids, bartenders, a stable man, a roustabout,
Summit Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
2. Summit Hotel Marker
The marker is on the right.
milkers, teamsters, a blacksmith, cooks, kitchen helpers, a man in the harness shop, servers, and two stage drivers.

To bring more guests special trains ran from Sacramento bringing revelers to regular dances.

That hotel burned in 1925 and was not rebuilt.
Summit Hotel
“This Hotel is the finest Summer Resort in the State of California… For invalids no better resort than this can be found in the world, as the air is alway pure and invigorating.”
Sacramento Daily Union, Sept. 17, 1870.

Things to do right here
“Last Wednesday… a party… united in a picnic expedition to Donner Peak. … some engaged in gathering flowers, and others, admiring the grand scenery of the summit peaks, towering up like some grand castle, far above the snow shed… lunch was served out under pine trees which aided the mountain air as an excellent tonic for sharpening appetites. The party then proceeded up the mountain trail near the summit of Donner peak, passing over a large bank of snow. Here a gay game of snowballing was indulged in by the entire company. After fully ascending Donner Peak some grand scenery was presented to view. In the distance could be seen Truckee, Martis Valley, Tinker’s Knob, Castle Peak, Summit Valley, Red Mountain, Devil’s Peak and six lakes. From off this peak
The location of the first Summit Hotel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
3. The location of the first Summit Hotel
fair Donner reminds one of a mirror spread out beneath amid the mountains.”
Sacramento Daily Union, July 31, 1885
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society.
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° 19.021′ N, 120° 19.789′ W. Marker is in Norden, California, in Nevada County. Marker is on Sugar Bowl Road near Donner Pass Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch 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 of this marker. Tunnel 6 (here, next to this marker); Donner Ski Ranch (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sugar Bowl Academy (approx. 0.2 miles away); Great Summit Tunnel of the Sierra Nevada (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sacred Symbols From Ancient Times (approx. half a mile away); Petroglyphs (approx. half a mile away); The Lodge at Sugar Bowl (approx. half a mile away); The Magic Carpet (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Norden.
Regarding Summit Hotel. This marker is removed every Fall for the winter months and replaced every Spring for the summer season.
Summit Valley Station image. Click for full size.
By C.E. Watkins, circa 1870s
4. Summit Valley Station

Also see . . .
1. The 20-Mile Museum Brochure. Information and the listing of all the markers within this series. (Submitted on March 28, 2015.) 

2. Art Clark Finds the Summit Hotel. An article by the Donner Summit Historical Society. Includes historic photos of the hotel and surrounding area. (Submitted on March 28, 2015.) 
Categories. EntertainmentRailroads & Streetcars
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 24, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 251 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 24, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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