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

John (Snowshoe) Thompson

John (Showshoe) Thompson Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Karen Key, June 18, 2006
1. John (Showshoe) Thompson Marker
Inscription.  Send me men to match my mountains. These are words a great poet said speaking for the brave young nation that needed strong and brave men’s aid.

In memory of John (Snowshoe) Thompson who, for twenty successive winters, 1856-1876, carried the mail on skis, over the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Placerville California to Carson City Nevada. Born 1827 in Telemark, Norway, he came to California in 1851. Died 1876 at the age of 49, and was buried in Diamond Valley, Nevada.
Erected 1967 by World Federation of Norsemen of Northern California.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: CommunicationsSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Pony Express National Historic Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1827.
Location. 38° 51.353′ N, 120° 0.778′ W. Marker is in Meyers, California, in El Dorado County. Marker is on Lincoln Highway (U.S. 50) west of Apache Avenue, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address:
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2977 Lincoln Highway, South Lake Tahoe CA 96150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Yank’s Station (here, next to this marker); Yank’s Added Station (here, next to this marker); Johnson Cutoff - Ascent of Johnson Pass (approx. 2.1 miles away); Luther Pass Trail - Prepared for the Ascent (approx. 2.1 miles away); Site of Echo Summit (approx. 3.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Meyers.
Also see . . .
1. Snowshoe Thompson: "Viking of the Sierra". (Submitted on July 12, 2006, by Karen Key of Sacramento, California.)
2. Pony Express National Historic Trail. (Submitted on October 14, 2006, by Karen Key of Sacramento, California.)
Additional commentary.
1. The Sacramento Union reports on Snowshoe Thompson
Long before wire services, 19th Century newspapers reported stories based on dispatches delivered by ship, horseback, and telegraph, to name just a few modes of delivery. Snowshoe Thompson was yet another source, delivering not only mail and supplies, but news as well, over the 90 mountainous miles between the Carson Valley in Nevada, and Placerville, in the Sierra foothills of California. The March 8th, 1856 edition of the Sacramento
John (Showshoe) Thompson Marker and other nearby markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Karen Key, June 18, 2006
2. John (Showshoe) Thompson Marker and other nearby markers
Union carried a story on the news from Carson Valley. Being short, the story is worth quoting verbatim in its entirety, as it illustrates the travails that Thompson faced, as well providing an early snapshot of the settlement of the Carson Valley. The trip on which this report is based would have been one of the earliest, being the first winter in his 20 year career as the skiing mailman. (NB for the modern reader: "ult." = last month, "inst." = this month)

Later from Carson Valley.
First Fall of Snow - Continued Cold Weather - Ravages of Wolves - Gold Discoveries on the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada - Rich Vallies - The Courts - Assessments - Census , &c., &c.

Mr. John A. Thompson, Expressman, arrived here yesterday afternoon, direct from Carson Valley. On his outward trip, Mr. T. consumed four and a half days, having left Placerville on 20th ult.

The weather in the valley continued uncommonly severe, and on the 27th February snow fell to the depth of six inches. No rain had fallen during the winter.

Wolves had come down from the mountains and killed a considerable quantity of livestock.

The gold hunting party had returned from their northern prospecting tour. They found Lawson near Noble's Pass - between "the pass" and Pyramid Lake - with eight men. He had gone thither with the intention of ranching, but having
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discovered gold, turned miner.

The party found gold on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada range for a distance of six miles in length, or as far as they prospected. The dirt paid from one to five cents to the bucket. They were only enabled to prospect in the small dry ravines, as the deeper ones were filled with snow. In their travels the party passed through some beautiful valleys for farming and grazing purposes, which also were well wooded and watered.

The Assessor had completed his assessment of property in the Valley, but had not submitted his report. A census of the inhabitants was also being taken, which would give probably an aggregate of about three hundred souls. The courts were fully organized, but had as yet transacted little business. The County Court was occupied in fixing the rate of taxation.

Mr. Thompson, on his return trip, left the Valley on the 3d inst., and was ten days and a half in reaching Placerville. The snow on the summits is still eight feet deep, but on the sides of the mountains was wasting away. Mr. Thompson leaves again for Carson Valley on the 15th inst. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted July 16, 2008.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 3, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 12, 2006, by Karen Key of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 3,753 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 12, 2006, by Karen Key of Sacramento, California. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 15, 2024