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

Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road

Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass

 
 
Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 26, 2018
1. Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker
Captions: Pictured top, Alfred A. Hart 1867, wagon on the Dutch Flat Rd. in Summit Valley at Castle Creek.; Carlton Watkins, wagons at the same spot (probably also an A.A. Hart photograph of the same time). Pictured at left, Alfred A. Hart 1867, Summit Valley from Mt. Judah. You can see the Dutch Flat Road in the back right - the white line.
Inscription.  History
Only 17 hours from Sacramento to Virginia City. "Safety and comfort can't be beat." "By far the best road constructed across the mountains." "Half the maximum grade" of other roads. "Constructed in the best in the best possible manner." "Wide enough for teams to pass each other without difficulty." "Commodious hotels have been erected along the route." So said the ads for the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Rd. when it opened in 1864.
Built beginning in 1862, the road went through Summit Valley here. It was built to carry freight and to supply the construction of the railroad. Today you can clearly see the route through the valley where it sits higher than the surrounding meadow. So much traffic packed the earth; that may be why, as the forest encoached on the meadow, trees did not grow on the route.
The railroad marketed the new toll road as a big improvement over the Placerville Rd. and it saw very heavy usage. In 1867, 85 train car loads of freight a day were unloaded at Cisco onto freight wagons to travel over the Summit on the Dutch Flat Rd.
The railroad made travel faster and cheaper so the road
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fell into disrepair.
By 1873 The Sacramento Daily Union said, "Along the route were the remains of many buildings which had been erected years ago, before the railroad was completed, but disused as soon as travel was transferred to the great passage way. Large barns and hotel still stood as wrecks, their roofs crushed by the weight of snow, and in some cases only the blackened remains of large hotels... that had been consumed by fire...."

A Good Story
The first locomotive in California, the Sacramento, was hauled on wagons from Gold Run to the Summit to work as a donkey engine at the central shaft of the great summit Tunnel in 1867.
Missouri Bill hitched 10 yoke of oxen (20 oxen) to his logging wagon which had two foot wide wheels so it would not sink into the mud. The huge wagon load was such a scary sight to oncoming traffic that it caused one stampede and "raised hell on the trail." "There was trouble every day" and "stage horses would balk at he sight of her." Eventually oncoming teamsters blindfolded their mules so they would not run off when they saw the engine coming. It took six weeks for the locomotive to get to Donner Summit on the Dutch Flat Road.

Things to do right here
Walk the remnants of the Dutch Flat Rd. here in Summit Valley. The remnants are clear about 100 yards south of this spot. There are
Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 26, 2018
2. Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker
Native American mortars to find, wildflowers to see, views to admire, clean air to breathe and lots to photograph.
 
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Donner Summit Historical Society series list.
 
Location. 39° 19.012′ N, 120° 21.656′ W. Marker is near Soda Springs, California, in Nevada County. Marker is on Old Donner Summit (Lake Van Norden) Road near Sugar Bowl Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Soda Springs CA 95728, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Summit Valley Sheep Pens (approx. 0.4 miles away); Royal Gorge History (approx. 0.4 miles away); Norden Station (approx. 0.4 miles away); Hutchinson Lodge (approx. 0.4 miles away); Summit Valley (approx. 0.6 miles away); Cal Lodge (approx. 0.6 miles away); Tri Lodges (approx. 0.6 miles away); Clair Tappaan Lodge (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Soda Springs.
 
Also see . . .  Dutch Flat Donner Lake Toll Wagon Road -- Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum. Several men including both
Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 26, 2018
3. Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road Marker
Charlie and Judge Edwin B. Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Collis Huntington, all of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, formed this toll road company. There were other investors but they were squeezed out early on. Early in 1861 the company was called the Lake Pass Turnpike Company because the name Donner was not yet in common use. Later the company was incorporated as the Dutch Flat and Donner Lake Wagon Road Company.
(Submitted on February 7, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
No. 183 Freighting at Cisco image. Click for full size.
Photographed By A.A. Hart
4. No. 183 Freighting at Cisco
No. 210 Loaded Teams, from Cisco image. Click for full size.
Photographed By A.A. Hart
5. No. 210 Loaded Teams, from Cisco
No. 284 Freight Depots at Reno. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By A.A. Hart
6. No. 284 Freight Depots at Reno.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2019. It was originally submitted on February 7, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 359 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 7, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Apr. 19, 2024