Welcome to the Snowshoe Thompson website

Snowshoe Thompson: “Legendary Mailman of the Sierra”
Snowshoe Thompson: “Legendary Mailman of the Sierra”



Friends of Snowshoe Thompson
The magnificent statue of John “Snowshoe” Thompson, which stands in the grounds of the Mormon Station State Park in Genoa, Nevada, was dedicated on June 23, 2001. This statue was made possible with funds raised by the Snowshoe Thompson Committee of the Greater Genoa Business Association. On October 6, 2003, a new nonprofit organization was formed called “Friends of Snowshoe Thompson”.

The purpose of this organization is “To promote and foster the memory of John “Snowshoe” Thompson through events and activities, and to maintain the statue and planter in the Mormon Station State Park.

The mission is “To honor the memory of Snowshoe Thompson in many ways, including promotion of international cooperation between Norwegian and American communities; promotion of connections between American Lutheran Churches and Scandinavian Lutheran Churches; encourage education in the schools about Norwegians in America; hold events supporting these ideals.”

FOST Committee 2022

Lynne Bowersock, Treasurer. billandlynneNV@aol.com.

Sue Knight, Secretary. wildrosie88@gmail.com

Darlene Tiffany. tedtiffany@charter.net

Dianne Johnson. snowedinlaketahoe@icloud.com

Brandon Wilding. historian1827@outlook.com

Tim Williams. tim.williams@digitalwest.com

Sasha Sutton. alexandrasutton@gmail.com

Mary Boykin. takai@gbis.com

Membership dues are $20. To become member send $20 and contact information to:

Sue Knight
Friends of Snowshoe Thompson,
P.O. Box 605
NV 89411
or e-mail wildrosie88@gmail.com 

You may also use our contact form on the contact page.


The magnificent statue of John “Snowshoe” Thompson, which stands in the grounds of the Mormon Station State Park in Genoa, Nevada, was dedicated on June 23, 2001. This statue was made possible with funds raised by the Snowshoe Thompson Committee of the Greater Genoa Business Association. On October 6, 2003, a new nonprofit organization was formed called “Friends of Snowshoe Thompson”.

The purpose of this organization is “To promote and foster the memory of John “Snowshoe” Thompson through events and activities, and to maintain the statue and planter in the Mormon Station State Park.

The mission is “To honor the memory of Snowshoe Thompson in many ways, including promotion of international cooperation between Norwegian and American communities; promotion of connections between American Lutheran Churches and Scandinavian Lutheran Churches; encourage education in the schools about Norwegians in America; hold events supporting these ideals.”

New Books of interest:

“John A “Snowshoe” Thompson – Pioneer Mail Carrier of the Sierra by Frank Tortorich

“50 Years of Flight” – Ski Jumping in California 1900-1950 by Ingrid Wicken

Many thanks to Jill Beede – this must be one of the definitive versions of Snowshoe Thompson’s life and times – see it here!


  1. Snow-Shoe Thompson by Johnny Horton – this is the song all the postman! I’m a postman, but here in Germany. I like the melody and I like the text of this song !!
    Many greetings from Germany

  2. Just found out from my big brother Ken, up in Canada, that John “Snowshoe” Thompson is in our Family Tree :-)! Please add me to your membership list :-)! Thanks :-)!

    1. hello J Payne: … that John “Snowshoe” Thompson is in our Family Tree.

      Has he published the family tree anywhere?

      Dave Wilborn

        1. I would love to see copy of Snowshoe Thompson family tree. My family is related to him via my mother/grandmother’s side of family who all emigrated from Tinn, Telemark, Norway.

          1. Me, too! My mother’s mother’s mother was Clara Belinda Thompson, daughter of Kristen Vaalund, or Chris Thompson. Snowshoe was his great uncle…I’ll look up your family and get back to you.

        2. hello: yes i am interested in the thompson family tree. my grandfather was a different john thompson who lived and worked (as a miner in virginia city) not far from where snowshoe lived. i know very little of this side of my family and am interested in any history of the times and area. thanks, dave wilborn.

        3. Jennifer, I would be very interested in having a copy of the family tree. Our information is somewhat fragmented. I hear from many people who have connections to the Snowshoe family. Let me know. Thanks.

        4. I wonder if you can help me! I was told by an aunt that he is a ancestor grandfather, that my heritage is Norwegian. My paternal grandfather is Thompson, Virley Thompson. Snowshoe might be a relative. As I’m reading about him I’m not feeling it, so my whole life before computers I believed it but now I question if I was told the truth. You have a family tree, could you please share it with me? so that I might know who I am. I’m almost 55 I am disturbed if I’ve been mislead. blessings! Plz email me with any info you might have on snowshow. ty

        5. I am a feature writer for our lcoal newspaper and a group from the area went to Norway recently and included in the group was a descendent of Snowshoe Thompson. They found his home and I am interested in how many others from our area of southwestern Wisconsin are related as it is predominantly of Norwegian ancestry.
          Thank you

        6. Hi,

          Does this mean we are related? I am pretty sure he is in our Family tree too! yes I would love a copy of of Snowshoe’s family tree!

  3. How is a person chosen for the Snowshoe Thompson Award?
    My brother, Richard (Dick) Waterbury was given this award upon his retirement form the U. S. Postal Service. We have given the statue to the Gridley Museum, as of today, and would like to have some more background on why my brother received this honor. Am ashamed I do not know.
    Thank you,
    Sally Barker

    1. Hi Sally: Apologies for the delayed response. How interesting! I really do not know about this award but I intend to research it. I am curious to know if it actually comes from the USPO! We have been pushing for a “Snowshoe” postage stamp for years. Stay in touch. Sue

  4. I lived above Genoa at 8,200 ft in the Sierras years ago and visited the Genoa Cemetary several times. I found an old wooden rotted toomstone with skis crossed on it and became interested in it as skiing wasn’t even thought of in this country during his lifetime. He made his own skis out of wood himsellf. In my research I found out that he carried the US mail in the Winter over the Sierras to Sacramento. Someone asked him what kept him from getting lost in a storm. His reply was just something in his head kept him going correctly. There was no trail to follow in a storm. He must have gone almost right over my property in those days. The reason it interested me so much is that I had a Mail contract from Omaha, NB to Oakland, CA, the approximate route of the Pony Express Trail and Snowshoe Thompson. I don’t know how he made it. In the winter months, the snow load was over 16 feet high average. I also heard that the U S Postal Service never paid him anything for his service. We owe him big time.

  5. I am supposedly related to snowshoe Thompson. My grandmother’s married name was Thompson and her husband was Oscar. I have been told my whole life that we are related. I am looking into it and will get back to you.

    1. Was your grandfather’s name Oscar Albert Thompson? Born June 18, 1918 in Scobey, MT?

      1. Richelle (Ricki) is my cousin. Yes, Oscar was our grandfather. I understand that Snowshoe was a great great uncle to Oscar. My name is Trevor Thompson in Lolo MT (great great great great nephew I think) and we have Thompson family from Oscar in Helena MT, Anchorage AK, DFW Texas, Billings MT, Gillette WY, and MSP MN.
        Would love to see your Snowshoe family tree – can you post it somehow?
        I also have a 2nd cousin, daughter to Cecil Thompson who recently passed in Wenatchee WA. My cousin, Karen Thompson Watson, created a Snowshoe binder for our family and included a family tree. Our family descent came from Guri Gaarden, sister to Snowshoe. Then son John Thompson, then son Henry Thompson (1886-1954). Of the children of Henry, Oscar was my grandfather and Cecil is Karen’s father. The the 7 children of Henry, I believe only Beryl Thompson (1923) is still living.

  6. Welcome to Snowshoe Thompson Memorial race this Sunday! We are living close to the place Snowshoe Thompson lived in Norway. Every Easter we have about 800 people going cross country over the mountain.

  7. I to am a relative of Snowshoe Thompson my Grandmother was a relative she had many books about him her maiden name was Olson

    1. Another Snowshoe Thompson descendant here! I was also given a book about him for Geneology Day in grade school, but no one in Dallas in the 50’s & 60’s even knew what snowshoes might be, and were thus unimpressed. I had a Grandma Olson also, and a Grandma Slattum, and Wogens in there somewhere. Two sides of my family from Slattum, Norway (Close to Oslo) and Stavanger. I will be checking out the link to the family tree.

  8. Hello to my far-flung cousins! I am also a descendent of the Thompson-Rue family through my mother’s mother, Esther Vinger, whose great grand-uncle was Jon Anon Torsteinsson Rue, or Snowshoe Thompson, his American name. The Thompson-Rue family published an extensively researched, 930-page family history that lists every family branch since 1759! I’m happy to look up other Norwegian family connections – like the Olsons, for example – if you can provide a detailed name, birthdate and/or place of birth.

    Also, Snowshoe’s birthday is coming up: he’ll be officially 186 on April 30th!

    1. Snowshoe Thompson is on our family tree also. We are related to him through my mother, Clara Walund Mock Moore. Her Father’s name was Christian Walund ( Vallund) and he was a brother to Cristian Thompson. Their mother was Kersti Torsenstein Rue. I am not sure if I have spelled that right. I believe their grandfather was Tor Thompson who was Snowshoe’s half-brother. The book you mentioned may be the same one my brother has. Is it possible to get hold of another one. We are also looking for the date of Snowshoe’s mother’s death and where she died.

  9. Seems like quite a few relatives of Snowshoe Thompson.. Me too. He was my Great Grandmother’s cousin. Jon Rue was his real name, changed to John A. Thompson (his stepfather, Thom Thomson) He was born Jon Tostensen on the Rue farm in Upper Tins, Prestifield, Norway, April 30, 1827 (Tinns, Telemark) My Great Grandmother’s name was Gro Rue.

    1. Was she Gro G. Rue, born in 1882 and died in 1959 at age 77? There’s another Gro Rue, but she was born in 1799….

    2. We are also related to Snowshoe, through his half brother Tor Thompson. Can you tell me when and where Gro died? Thank you.

  10. Oh, and wishing a happy belated birthday to Snowshoe Thompson, born April 30th.

  11. Thanks for all the interesting comments and links to Snowshoe’s family. Keep them coming. I frequently have people stopping at the tourism gazebo and statue in Genoa who tell me of their connections to Snowshoe. He had a lot of relatives!!! Now I need a little more background on his British wife, Agnes Singleton.

  12. I just completed an indepth study of Snowshoe Thompson.
    I have covered material not covered by anyone else.
    The book is about 285 pages long with an extensive bibliography and well footnoted.
    I am looking for a publisher. This is forengn territory for me.
    I have self published two historic guide books about the Emigrant Trail in the Sierra Nevada.
    This book is larger than I want to take on to self publish.
    Any ideas will be helpful.

  13. The city of Los Angeles has a plaque honoring Snowshoe Thompson embedded in a boulder in what must be the smallest park in the city. Why this exists in Los Angeles, I have no idea.

  14. Hi

    Our family is also supposed to be related to Snowshoe Thompson. My paternal grandmother was a Thompson.

    Carla Crow Kelly

    1. Hmm, I wonder if I am related to any of you? My grandmother grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Her maiden name was Gertrude Clarissa Thompson. Her mother was Anna Halverson Thompson and her father was Ole Thompson. Anna and Ole were immigrants from Norway. I was told that Snoeshoe was my grandmother’s great, great, Uncle. (Not exactly sure how many greats.)


  15. My husband and I attended the unveiling of the statue in Genoa. Relatives came also from Norway. It was an exciting time. I am part of the Canadian branch of the family.

    1. Ruth – I remember you! That was a fun time wasn’t it. We will be celebrating 15 years of the statue dedication in 2016 (June). Would be gret if you could return to Genoa.

  16. Hello. Thank you for running this site. I just recently learned that I am a distant cousin. Such a interesting story. My great great grandfather Torgrim Thompson was either half brother, step brother, or nephew of Snowshoe Thompson. I am trying to figure it out. I have been to Genoa several times. I love the area. Could you please add me to your member list? Sincerely, Cyndi

  17. I have searched your site and others without finding the answer to this question: In Johnny Horton’s song, he sings “they’re changing old Squaw Valley to Snow Shoe Thompson’s name.” I have never been able to see any reference to this happening. Can you please verify?

    1. This was never done! Don’t think he spent much time in Squaw Valley! He spent a lot of time in Carson Valley and lived in Diamond Valley – his route roughly followed Hwy 88. Think we should name that highway after him???

  18. I have just read a book about Snowshoe Thompson and am very impressed with him. I belong to Sons of Norway and plan to give a book report on him.

  19. I understand you (the organization) are planning a special event regarding Snowshoe Thompson in 2016. Can you tell me more about it, like what is the occassion, where will it be held, how many days etc.
    Thanks, Sharlene P. Nelson

  20. Yes, we are planning a event to celebrate 15 years since we erected the Snowshoe Thompson statue in Genoa. Not sure of the date yet – probably in June. it will either be a barbecue or dinner, including Norwegian dancers, fjord horses, etc. Stay posted!

    1. Hi Sue,

      Let us know the date of the 15-year anniversary – I’d love to see if I can attend.

  21. My grandfather emigrated from Ringebu, Norway, with his family, arriving in Fargo, Dakota territory, in May, 1881, His sister, who had come to America a few years earlier,had lost her husband in one of the many winter blizzards
    that North Dakota is blessed with.
    In 1886, grandfather homesteaded in the Chain Lakes area where Devils Lake is now located. I am sorry that I must add that I have never heard of Snowshoe Thompson but rest assured that I will question relatives back home to see if they have heard of him and I will forward this to the Norwegian Society of Texas. In all respects, he must have been of quite a Norwegian.

  22. Please add me to your list. I was on a field trip with my daughter in Placerville CA and toured the museum. I learned about Snowshoe Thompson, saw his snow skies that he made, and appreciated his physical feats and accomplishments.

  23. Hello,

    I’m an artist that seeks to preserve history through my work. My most recent series is called The Jobs of Yesteryear, which depicts obsolete jobs and historic workers from the past in my long-limbed and surreal style.

    I came across Snowshoe Thompson and have created an awesome painting depicting him flying down a snowy hillside, with the Sierra Nevadas in the background. I’ll be sure to share it with you once it’s finished.

    I would love to see if I can contribute in some way to your event in 2016 with my artwork, so please add me to your list and let me know if there’s anyway I can help. I’m so intrigued by his story and am excited to get the chance to tell his story with my art.

    Tyler Voorhees

  24. Hi Sue…..new efforts are under way to have a Snowshoe Thompson stamp issued. Do you know of any short documentaries we could get so it could be shown to members of the US committee that decides who should be on stamps? Erik Pappa is spearheading the effort and I will give him your email address and I’m sure he would want your participation. Takk!

  25. Hi. I saw Shoeshoe Thompson’s story on the Western Channel this evening. It was a very interesting story that led me to research him on the Internet. I like his story quite a bit but am disappointed that he was never financially paid for his service. I am encouraged by his courage to stay with the job.

  26. Please add me to your membership list. Susan Thompson MacFarland. I was born and grew up in Reno and have a somewhat strong Scandinavian ancestry. Thank you. 🙂

  27. Just watched death valley days .Snowshoe Thompson s2e13.that led me here. I have live in Placerville since 1982 . Wow what a man!

  28. Hello, I am on a committee for the next Western Region Conference of ALHFAM (Assoc. for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums) We are still working out details, but we will be centered in Carson City from Sept. 26-30 2017 for the conference. Does anyone have contact information for Steve Hale who does living history presentations of Snowshoe Thompson? Thank you.

  29. It is with great sadness that we report the death of our dear friend, Bill Bowersock. Bill headed the FOST committee since its inception. He worked tirelessly to make the Genoa “Snowshoe” statue a reality. He has sealed the engraved planter bricks annually for 15 years.

    Thank you Bill – you are missed.

    Sue Knight, Secretary
    Friends of Snowshoe Thompson wildrose@pyramid.net :: 775-315-7777

  30. “Snow Shoe “Thompson” who was born John Tarsteinson Rui or Rue at Upper Tinn,Prestijeld, Norway came to America with his family “Rui-Rue” information can be found at the Norwegian-American Historical Association, Northfield,MN

  31. Snowshoe Thompson’s downhill travels are well documented. I’m interested in knowing how he went uphill over the Sierra Nevada. How did he climb and so quickly?

    1. To Dwight Mc Cain..
      The account I’m reading is that he was self-taught on techniques by trial and error.

      At one point he described a herringbone sort of maneuver.

      I’d think side stepping may have been a rough experience, if he tried that, as his edges would be pretty hard to set on icier conditions.

      That’s my best guess!

      Keep in mind, he was a very strong athlete/farmer/pioneer going in, and carried a great deal of physical strength naturally.

  32. Hello!
    Wow! This is so very interesting!

    I am reading a book now, as a first time introduction, to this amazing gentleman.

    I don’t know how it got missed in my history lessons!

    Anyways, I am also an avid XC and alpine skier. I just saw about the wonderful memorial race above, and I am very interested in it!

    Will you be doing it again next year as it is an annual event? If so, PLEASE let me know. I’d love to be there!

    Thank you for this site and the commemoration of a fantastic life so influential to skiing here in the west.

    Many blessings, and I hope to meet soon.

    Beth J

    1. Good to hear from you Beth. All Snowshoe activities for this year are cancelled due to the pandemic but we hope to have the annual Ski and Snowshoe event on March 6, 2021.

      Then on June 26, 2021, we are planning a big celebration in Mormon Station State Park to commemorate 20 years since the dedication of the Snowshoe Statue..

      Let’s hope that these events will take place.

      Stay tuned.

      1. Hello again, Sue!
        I am eagerly looking forward to the event in March! I plan on being there for it. I’m not sure if I can make the 20 year celebration, too, but will try. Thank you for all you and the others do to keep this extraordinary gentleman’s sacrifice to humanity remembered. Gives us all hope!! Blessings always, and see you soon!

  33. Hello Kim and Sue!
    Have you read the story by Evelyn Teal?
    I find it a bit lacking so far. Wondering if I should finish it. Thanks!!

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