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Donner Summit Historical Society Historical Markers

 
Cal Lodge Marker image, Touch for more information
By Barry Swackhamer, August 30, 2014
Cal Lodge Marker
California (Nevada County), Norden — 16c — Cal Lodge
History Today people travel swiftly along I-80 to their destinations in the Sierra, many times not even staying overnight. When they do stay overnight it is most likely in hotels or rental houses. It was not always that way. Before I-80 . . . — Map (db m81970) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 19 — Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush
History Love - Excitement - Pathos - Humor. It’s all in “The Gold Rush” which was filmed at Sugar Bowl (and Truckee). “The Gold Rush,” written, produced, directed, and starring Charlie Chaplin was one of . . . — Map (db m81934) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 16 — Clair Tappaan LodgeHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Clair Tappaan Lodge was hand-built by a hearty group of Sierra Club volunteers in 1934 as a retreat for hikers, skiers and mountain climbers. This rustic building, consisting of post and beam construction, was designed by Walter . . . — Map (db m129660) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 25 — Donner Pass Airway Station & Beacon
History The first wagon trains, the first transcontinental railroad, and the first transcontinental highway crossed Donner Summit. So did the first transcontinental airway. When airplanes were new, pilots flew by the "seat of their pants" . . . — Map (db m130536) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 27 — Donner Summit Overlook
History “I don’t believe I have adequate words to describe the real beauty of Donner Pass. As we stood looking down I had a floating sensation… I lost all fear as I looked at one of the most beautiful blue lakes (Donner Lake) I have . . . — Map (db m81894) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 15 — Hutchinson LodgeHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Lincoln and James Hutchinson, for whom Hutchinson Lodge is named, were born in the late 1860's in San Francisco of pioneer parents. Both were educated at University of California Berkeley and Harvard. James was a charter member of the . . . — Map (db m129658) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — Mt. JudahHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
"If only the Sierra might be pierced." Atlantic Monthly December, 1867 History "Crazy Judah." Theodore Judah had some strange ideas. He wanted to build a railroad across the continent. People knew it could not be done. The . . . — Map (db m105198) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 14 — Norden StationHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History “new addition… modern design… large new ski hut… semi-rustic design… oiled pine walls … ideally suited to skiers’ requirements… central heating… Norden awaits the opening of the winter sports season.” So advertised . . . — Map (db m81875) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 31 — PetroglyphsHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History The Washoe Tribe lived on the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada mountains for more than 6,000 years. They didn’t actually call themselves the Washoe Tribe, though. They called themselves the Waashiw (Wa-she-shu) tribe, meaning . . . — Map (db m81899) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 28 — Rainbow Bridge
History The bridge “eliminated for all time the terrors of the Donner grade from the state highway system of California.” Automobile travel could be a harrying affair in the old days and Donner Summit was a difficult route. . . . — Map (db m81898) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 18 — Sugar Bowl
History When Bill Klien, who would transform skiing himself, invited Hannes Schroll to Donner Summit from Yosemite in 1937, the ski industry was about to change. Hannes was a dare-devil champion skier whose yodels as he tore down mountains . . . — Map (db m81933) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 26 — Sugar Bowl AcademyHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History The current building at the head of Donner Pass on Old 40 was built for the Division of Highways in 1931 to serve as a dormitory for highway workers. That was the first winter the road was plowed and on-call workers needed . . . — Map (db m81881) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — Summit HotelHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History The coming of the railroad made it easy for well-heeled tourists to visit Donner Summit and with the building of a large hotel, they came. Whole families came to enjoy the summit and stay for weeks at a time. The first Summit . . . — Map (db m81880) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 17 — Summit Valley
History Summit Valley has been the scene of human activity for thousands of years because it is a natural crossing of the Sierra. Native Americans traveled the valley moving from winter to summer residences. They left grinding rocks and . . . — Map (db m81971) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 21 — The Lodge at Sugar Bowl
History William Wilson Wurster was the most “influential unknown architect in California.” He designed many houses and buildings such as Ghirardelli Square, Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz, as well as other U.C. and Stanford . . . — Map (db m81939) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 20 — The Magic Carpet
History The ritual of arriving in early morning by train and taking the 15 minute ride in tractor drawn sleighs was in place for more than ten years after Sugar Bowl opened in 1939. It was the only way to get to Sugar Bowl. It was a cold . . . — Map (db m81936) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 32 — The SnowshedsHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Theodore Judah, who plotted the Central Pacific’s route over the Sierra and for whom Mt. Judah was named, thought it was only the mountains that needed conquering as the Central Pacific headed east to meet up with the Union Pacific. He . . . — Map (db m81977) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 29 — Transcontinental RailroadHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History It was a race. The Union and Central Pacific Railroads were crossing the continent with steel rails each trying to build the most miles and so get the most money from the government. The rugged Sierra and its winter climate were . . . — Map (db m81883) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 16b — Tri Lodges
History Because there were three lodges built on Forest Service land in the early 1930’s, they have always been referred to as the Tri-Lodges. The first of the three lodges built was der Naturfreund in 1931 (right). This is a private lodge . . . — Map (db m81969) HM
California (Nevada County), Norden — 23 — Tunnel 6Hwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History 1866 - Right here Bam, bam, quarter turn; Bam, bam, quarter turn; Bam, bam, quarter turn; all day long, three shifts a day, day after day, week after week. Chinese workers pounded away at the solid granite. One worker held a star . . . — Map (db m81878) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Central Sierra Snow LabHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History California has some of the most productive farmland in the world and a population of 38 million people. California alone is on of the biggest economies in the world. Water is critical to that economy and Sierran snows are critical . . . — Map (db m105197) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — 7 — Donner Summit LodgeHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History At one time there were many lodges and inns along Highway 40. Today one can drive from the Bay Area to Donner Summit in a couple of hours but when Highway 40 was the only route it was two lanes and went through every downtown on the . . . — Map (db m129580) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon RoadHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
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 . . . — Map (db m129648) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — 12 — Emigrant Wagon RouteHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History After the emigrants had successfully negotiated Donner Pass, they rested in Summit Valley (Van Norden now). They grazed the stock, drank their fill of the pure water and rested. The trip had been exhausting and dangerous but now . . . — Map (db m129583) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Ice LakesHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Before 1850 you drank your root beer or sarsaparilla warm in California. Then ice began to be imported from Alaska. No one realized there was a closer supply in the Sierra. Ice Lakes got its name from the ice industry that arrived . . . — Map (db m129593) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Lake Van Norden DamHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History There has been a dam at the end of Summit Valley since the 1870's as you can see if you look closely at the top photograph here. To the left of the dam you can also see the buildings that used to be the "downtown" Soda Springs where . . . — Map (db m129582) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — 9 — Soda Springs HotelHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Before the coming of the hotels and ski areas, the only Summit industry was the railroad. There had been a few dairies, two ice houses, sheep and some lumbering, even a still on the hill, but the railroad was key to the Summit. . . . — Map (db m105196) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — 8 — Soda Springs StoreHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History There have been many Soda Springs stores over the years on both sides of the railroad tracks. The original Soda Springs Store serviced the many industries on the Summit: ice harvesting, diaries, lumber mills, sheep grazing, and of . . . — Map (db m105170) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Summit Valley Native American MortarsHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History For thousands of years Native Americans from what is now Nevada called Summit Valley their summer home. They came to hunt, fish, gather food, and trade with Native Americans from what is now California. We can see evidence of their . . . — Map (db m129595) HM
California (Nevada County), Soda Springs — Summit Valley Sheep PensHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History "The sound of the bells when it was quiet (no trains), was magical to hear." The tinkle of bells on the lead sheep was once a common sound in Summit Valley late in the summer and fall. Lake Van Norden filled with water with . . . — Map (db m129645) HM
California (Nevada County), Truckee — 30 — China Wall
History Things to do right here "They were a great army laying siege to Nature in her strongest citadel." -- Beyond the Mississippi, 1869. They worked sunrise to sunset, six days a week, 52 weeks a year. Had it not been for the . . . — Map (db m129733) HM
California (Nevada County), Truckee — Donner Lake West End
History The Donner Lake area is not only an exciting place to live and adventure, but also has lots of interesting history. The story of the Donner Party crossing over this amazing and majestic mountain range (1847) has spread through the . . . — Map (db m129736) HM
California (Nevada County), Truckee — 22 — Donner Ski RanchHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History The first ski lift on Signal Hill (now Donner Ski Ranch) was built by Johnny Ellis in 1937. This forerunner of the "Ranch" included two rope tows powered by Model A automobiles sitting on blocks (the manila rope going around the . . . — Map (db m105199) HM
California (Nevada County), Truckee — Donner Summit Canyon History
Welcome to Donner Summit Canyon You are about to enjoy a wonderful experience with exquisite views, forests and trails. It is also the gateway to the most important square mile in California’s history! Donner Pass, located above the property, . . . — Map (db m81978) HM
California (Nevada County), Truckee — What Made Her Do It?First Woman to Swim Donner Lake
History Today each August hundreds of swimmers take to the 65º water of Donner Lake and swim its 2.7 mile long length. Each swimmer has lots of company. On August 19 (sic, 18), 1935 though, it was a different story. On that day 17 year . . . — Map (db m129739) HM
California (Placer County), Auburn — Wise Power Plant
History At one time canals laced the Sierra foothills and the mountains above. Many still exist as do the reservoirs the canals linked. Originally the canals were used to funnel water to hydraulic and pacer mining. The system was well in . . . — Map (db m129768) HM
California (Placer County), Cisco Grove — 2 — Meadow Lake
With prospects so cheering, located in a section of country abounding in timber and water, with a climate so healthy, who can foretell the future of Meadow Lake? Here the puff of the iron locomotive will soon be heard as it speeds onward to . . . — Map (db m129472) HM
California (Placer County), Cisco Grove — 1 — Red Mountain
History Fire! Fire at Cascade! Call Cisco Snowsheds solved one problem and opened up an industry of snow shovelers, maintenance workers, carpenters, line walkers and fire lookouts. 24 hours a day, high on Red Mountain, lookouts scanned . . . — Map (db m129442) HM
California (Placer County), Emigrant Gap — 5 — Big BendHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Stop and listen. Be very quiet. People have been traveling past this "Big Bend" in the Yuba River for thousands of years. It's a natural migration route and the Ranger station and museum are only the most recent arrivals. Maybe if . . . — Map (db m105166) HM
California (Placer County), Emigrant Gap — Emigrant Gap
The first wagon train ever brought across the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California was lead by Caleb Greenwood. He led the Steven-Town (sic, Townsend) - Murphy party and came through what is known as the Emigrant Trail. Approximately fifty wagons . . . — Map (db m129438) HM
California (Placer County), Emigrant Gap — 3 — Forest Gift Shop, Cisco GroveHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History Before the coming of I-80 all traffic crossing Donner Summit came right through here. Cisco Grove was an active little community oriented to highway travelers. If you look closely here you will see the ruins of foundations of the . . . — Map (db m105152) HM
California (Placer County), Emigrant Gap — 4 — Lincoln HighwayHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History "An uplifting of the soul is sure to follow this contact with Nature in her majesty, and Self becomes smaller and smaller as we realize the immensity of things in traversing this country." -- 1924 Complete Official Road Guide of . . . — Map (db m105154) HM
California (Placer County), Emigrant Gap — Nyack LodgeHwy 40 Scenic Bypass
History What you see as a multi-lane Interstate highway now had already been a well-traveled route when the freeway arrived. Wagon trains came over the rise to the east and dropped into the valley and then travelled along the Bear River. . . . — Map (db m129436) HM
California (Placer County), Soda Springs — 6 — Rainbow Lodge
History Rainbow Tavern, as it was known, was built in 1927 by Herstle Jones who also built Nyack Lodge. He was the brother of Oscar Jones who built the Soda Springs Hotel. Rainbow Lodge served as a way spot for summer travelers over the . . . — Map (db m95575) HM

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May. 28, 2020