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Sierra Speaker Series: “John Snowshoe Thompson” America West’s First and Greatest Endurance Athlete

April 20 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


The monthly Sierra Speaker Series connects folks to the rich cultural and natural history of the area. Join us at Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center to learn and engage! Doors open at 5 pm, and the presentation is to follow at 5:30 pm. Admission is a suggested $5 donation. Light refreshments will be available. Parking is free after 5 pm. No registration required.

On January 3rd, 1856, John “Snowshoe” Thompson departed Placerville, CA for Genoa, NV across the snowbound Sierra, carrying a 60-pound backpack of mail, crossing the treacherous terrain in just 3 days heading east, 2 days returning, which had prior deterred, in some cases killed, all predecessors. He had no compass or map, little food, a warm coat, and hat, and used homemade 12’ long wooden “snowshoes” (skis) and a single wooden pole to navigate by the stars and terrain…alone. He continued to deliver the mail for two decades. How did he do this? As lifelong ultra-endurance athletes, we will delve into the why and how of this remarkable human and why he remains one of the first, and greatest endurance athletes in American history.

History Expeditions is adventure with purpose. Our mission is to discover American West tales and trails which have been lost to time, and honor inspiring historic heroes. We deep dive research intriguing people and places in the books AND on the field, combining history with sports. In March 2024 we discovered and retraced the steps of John “Snowshoe” Thompson’s inaugural January 3rd, 1856 winter mail route across the Sierra, to honor the man and his accomplishments. Our Snowshow Thompson Expedition Team members are Bob Crowley, Jennifer Hemmen, Hal Hall, Elke Reimer, Tim Twietmeyer.


April 20
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


donner memorial state park
12593 Donner Pass Rd.
Truckee, CA 96161 United States
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12593 Donner Pass Rd.