Alpine County Points of Interest
The plaque reads:
A True Pioneer
"...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.
Dedicated this 10th day of July 1977, as a Founded and Endorsed Bicentennial Project, by the Nevada
members of the Ancient and Honorable Order of
E Clampus Vitus
Snowshoe Thompson (1827-1876) was the nickname for the Norwegian-American Jon Torsteinson-Rue who is considered the father of California skiing. At the age of ten, Thompson immigrated to the United States with his family.
Between 1856 and 1876, he delivered mail between Placerville in California and towns in in Nevada. He delivered the first silver ore to be mined from the Comstock Lode in Virginia City. Despite his twenty years of service, he was never paid for delivering the mail.
Thompson did not use the snowshoes that are native to North America. Instead he used ten-foot skis and a single sturdy pole generally held in both hands at once. He learned this version of cross-country skiing in his native Norway.
Thompson typically made the eastward trip in three days, and the return trip in two days. He carried no blanket and no gun. He claimed he was never lost, not even in blizzards.