Statue of Snowshoe Mailman of the Sierra
If you're stuck in a relentless and miserable job, consider whether it's miserable enough to inspire future generations to erect a monument to you. John A. "Snowshoe" Thompson had such a job, and now he's immortalized as a statue in park -- and it's the only reason we slowed down in Genoa.
Born in Norway as Jon A. Torsteinson - Rue, "Snowshoe" Thompson spent 20 blizzard-filled winters -- from 1856 to 1876 -- delivering mail between Genoa, NV and Placerville, CA. That's a distance of 90 miles, over the rocky Sierras and a succession of peaks and gorges and passes.
To get a sense of how incredible (or miserable, depending on your outlook) was such a trek, from the base of statue head for US Hwy 50 and drive west to Placerville. Even in the nicest weather.
"Snowshoe" merrily made twice-a-month winter runs, carrying a 50- to 100-lb. mailbag. For the three day journey he used long skis and a single balancing pole to traverse snow banks that could be up to 50 feet deep. He ate crackers and dried beef and "drank melted snow from his hand," according to the plaque at the base of the statue (written by town historian B. J. Rightmire).
The bronze statue by sculptor Don Budy depicts Thompson balancing with his pole atop a plume of snow like a surfer, his skis jutting forward. His hat is firmly pulled down over his face, and his mailbag is secure.