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

Snowshoe Thom(p)son

(John Tostensen)

 

—A True Pioneer —

 
Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
1. Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker
Inscription. “…there ought to be a shaft raised to Snow-Shoe Thompson: Not of marble; Not carved and not planted in the valley, but a rough shaft of basalt or of granite, massive and tall, with top ending roughly as if broken short, to represent a life which was strong and true to the last. And this should be upreared on the summit of the mountains over which the strong man wandered so many years, as an emblem of that life which was worn out apparently without an object…” Attributed to: Dan Dequille, Territorial Enterprise, May 19, 1876.
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Dedicated this 10th day of July 1977, as a founded and endorsed Bicentennial Project

 
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
Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
2. Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker
markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. 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); Old Emigrant Road (approx. 2.7 miles away but has been reported missing); Summer Retreat (approx. 3.1 miles away); Caples Lake (approx. 3.7 miles away); Kirkwood's (approx. 4.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kirkwood.
 
Also see . . .
1. El Dorado County – Stories of El Dorado History: Snowshoe Thompson. (Submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.)
2. 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.)
 
Additional comments.
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
Snowshoe Thom(p)son Monument image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
3. Snowshoe Thom(p)son Monument
The top of the shaft "as if broken short"
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.) Folks in Placerville laughed when they first saw him and his long skis, but they soon came to admire and encourage him when they realized he might get the mail through. He started his twenty-year career delivering the mail over the mountains in 1856. He became a necessity and a fixed institution in the mountains, providing the only land communication between the Atlantic states and California.
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
Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, n/a
4. Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker
As originally constructed, the top of the "broken short shaft" was attached to the base of the monument. The monument has since been vandalized and the top stolen.
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, and was buried at Genoa. His only son Arthur, who died June 22, 1878 at 11 years 4 months old, was buried by his side.
*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. CommunicationsExplorationNotable EventsNotable PersonsNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
5. Snowshoe Thom(p)son Marker
E Vitus Clampus major donor plaque mounted under the marker
Major Donor Plaque Mounted on West Side of Monument image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
6. Major Donor Plaque Mounted on West Side of Monument
Major Donor Plaque Mounted on East Side of Monument image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, July 31, 2006
7. Major Donor Plaque Mounted on East Side of Monument
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 3, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,664 times since then and 36 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.
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