Snowshoe Thompson Memorial Monument

  • John A. “Snowshoe” Thompson
  • (Jon A. Torsteinson–Rue)
  • Mailman of the Sierra
  • Born: April 30, 1827, Tinn, Telemark, Norway
  • Emigrated to America from Norway; May 30 1837
  • Carried the mail; January 1856 – May 1876
  • Twice a month during the winter for 20 years
  • Distance: 90 miles between Placerville, CA and Genoa, NV
  • Buried: Genoa cemetery, the grave site headstone carving depicts a pair of crossed skis.

Transversing the mighty sierra mountain ridges on a piar of homemade “long” skis and using his single pole for balance: “Snowshoe” braved 20 – 50 foot snow depths, snowdrifts and blizzards. The mail must reach its destination. “Snowshoe” carried a mail bag weighing 50 to 100 pounds strapped to his back. He carried crackers and dried beef for food, drank melted snow from his hand and rested only when necessary during the three day trek from Placerville to Genoa. The mail was Genoa’s only contact with the outside world during the long winter months.

“Snowshoe” Thompson – a true hero of the west

  • Sculptor: Don Budy
  • Text by: B J Rightmire: town of Genoa, historian
  • Monument dedicated in June 2001 in Mormon Station State Park in Genoa
Snowshoe Thompson Monument photo
Snowshoe Thompson Monument


  1. We are reading about Snowshoe Thompson in our 2nd grade reading groups. We enjoyed the information on your website. We are happy that Snowshoe Thompson delivered the mail. Thank you for creating this website.

    Sincerely, Mrs. Mion’s Reading Class

    1. Apologies for the late response. I am so pleased that second graders are learning about Snowshoe Thompson. Where are you located? Nina and I give “Snowshoe” presentations to our local elementary schools. It is a lot of fun to promote the heritage of this legendary man.

  2. I believe that the Snowshoes Thompson Memorial Monument
    at the top/left of this page was sculpted by the artist Angus Kent Lemar (head of the art department at USAOK in Chickasha, Oklahoma). It was commissioned by the Sons of Norway in Uba City, Calif., and dedicated as a 1976 Bicentennial Site. The Don Budy sculpture is depicted in the two pictures on the bottom of the page.

  3. Hi Bob: I will verify the sculptor of the first statue located at Boreal Ridge on Donner Summit. Yes, It was dedicated by the Yuba City Sons of Norway. Yes, Don Budy, a sculptor from Denver, Colorado, created our Genoa statue which we dedicated in June 2001. Thanks for your information. Sue

  4. We found a picture of a memorial brick “LLOYD WALUND FAMILY, GREAT GRAND NEPHEW “.. Our father was Lloyd Walund. We believe it is a brick from Snowshoe’s memorial. Can you confirm this. We would live to know since our father passed 10 years ago. Thank you so very much.

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