Placerville in El Dorado County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
For twenty winters from 1858 to 1878 he was the lifeline between Utah Territory across the Sierras, and the new state of California. On skies he carried mail, medicine, supplies and information between Placerville, California and Genoa, Nevada, and mining camps of the Mother Lode and Washoe areas. He was a true pioneer of early California.... A legend in his own time.
Erected by Snowshoe Thompson Lodge No.78, Sons of Norway, Yuba City California in Memory of Olga M. Davidson.
Location. 38° 43.673′ N, 120° 48.197′ W. Marker is in Placerville, California, in El Dorado County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Sacramento Street, on the right when traveling east on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is to the left of the Placerville Pony Express marker. Marker is in this post office area: Placerville CA 95667, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Placerville Pony Express (here, next to this marker); Hangmans Tree (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Three Unfortunates Hanged The Forum Café / Union Hotel / United States Trio Hall / The Forum Café / The Blue Bell Café (about 400 feet away); Sgt. J. Scott Lindsay (about 400 feet away); Branch Saloon/Bingham's Jewelrey/Seligman Building/Ewing Building (about 400 feet away); Randolph Jewelers (about 600 feet away); "Stone House" (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Placerville.
Also see . . . John A. Snowshoe Thompson – Mail Carrier on Skies. (Submitted on October 20, 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.
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, 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.
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,635 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 20, 2008, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.