Near Kirkwood in Alpine County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
—A True Pioneer —
Erected 1977 by The Nevada Members of the Ancient & Honorable Order of E CLampus Vitus.
Marker series. This marker is included in the E Clampus Vitus marker series.
Location. 38° 41.633′ N, 119° 59.25′ W. Marker is near Kirkwood, California, in Alpine County. Marker is on Carson Pass Scenic Byway (State Highway 88), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at the parking area of the Kit Carson Monument. Marker is in this post office area: Kirkwood CA 95646, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other Kit Carson (a few steps from this marker); Naming of Carson Pass (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Memorial to Pioneer Odd Fellows (about 600 feet away); First Summit (about 700 feet away); Summer Retreat (approx. 3.1 miles away); Caples Lake (approx. 3.7 miles away); Kirkwood's (approx. 4.6 miles away); Grover Hot Springs (approx. 7.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kirkwood.
Also see . . . Stories and Articles by Ron Watters: The Soaring Eagle of the Sierras. (Submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.)
1. Snowshoe Thompson
In 1851, a 24-year-old Norwegian man named John Thompson* headed for fortune in California. He prospected around Placerville at Coon Hollow and Kelsey's Diggings, then tried ranching in the Sacramento Valley. In 1856, he read about the mail delivery struggle over the Sierra Nevada mountains. He made snowshoes, but not like the flat, heavy ones used by Indians and trappers of the West and Canada. They resembled skis, but were heavier and clumsier. The first skis he made were 10 feet long and weighed 25 pounds. (Subsequent skis were recorded at 9 feet long, then seven.)
Thompson's first trip from Placerville to Carson Valley was made in January of 1856. It was a 90-mile trip in which he often glided over snow drifts 30 to 50 feet deep. The mail packs he carried were 60 to 80 pounds, and sometimes over 100 pounds. It took three days uphill to get to Carson Valley, and two days to return to Placerville, 45 miles a day through complete wilderness. He carried little food, used snow for water, dressed lightly, and carried no blanket, due to his mail load. When he had to sleep, or when the night prevented his traveling, he tried to find a stump of a dead pine to make camp. He set the stump on fire, collected spruce and fir boughs to sleep on, rested his head on the mail pouch and put his feet at the fire. There he slept, with 10 to 30 feet of snow beneath him.
In his travels he helped many a stranded traveler in the wilderness. He made his home in Diamond Valley on the eastern side of the Sierras. "Snowshoe" Thompson died at 49 years old on May 15, 1876,
*It is thought that his Norwegian name was Tostensen and the proper English translation Thomson, instead of Thompson
Source: Gold Rush Chronicles(http://comspark.com/chronicles/famous.shtml#Anchor-Mar-5578)
— Submitted November 1, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.
Categories. • Communications • Exploration • Notable Events • Notable Persons • Notable Places • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on July 26, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,742 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. 4. submitted on July 30, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. 5, 6, 7. submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.