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The Snowshoe Mailman

Statue of Snowshoe Mailman of the Sierra

Field review by the editors.

Genoa, Nevada

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, Nevada, and Placerville, California. That's a distance of 90 miles, over the rocky Sierras and a succession of peaks, gorges, and passes.

To get a sense of how incredible (or miserable, depending on your outlook) was such a trek, drive west from the statue along US 50 to Placerville. It's not an easy trip, even in a motorized vehicle in the nicest weather.

"Snowshoe" stoically made the trek twice a month, in winter, carrying a 50- to 100-pound mail bag. 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.

Also see: Shrine of the Snowshoe Priest | Barefoot Mailman Statue

Statue of Snowshoe Mailman of the Sierra

Mormon Station State Historic Park

Main St., Genoa, NV
Mormon Station State Historic Park. Drive south on Hwy 206 from Carson City to Genoa. The statue is on the northeast corner of Hwy 206/Main St. and Route 278/Genoa Lane.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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