20-mile commemorative museum coming to Donner Summit | SierraSun.com

20-mile commemorative museum coming to Donner Summit

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Greyson Howard/Sierra SunRainbow Bridge on Old Highway 40 Tuesday afternoon. The Donner Summit Historical Society wants to create a "20-mile-long museum" from Rainbow Bridge to Cisco Grove, highlighting the summit's history.
ALL |

SODA SPRINGS, Calif. and#8212; Most history museums don’t allow visitors to drive through them, but that’s the plan on Donner Summit.

It may not be a museum in a traditional sense, but the Donner Summit Historical Society wants to put interpretive signs along Old Highway 40 from Cisco Grove to Rainbow Bridge, creating a 20-mile-long museum highlighting the area’s history and natural resources.

and#8220;We’re looking for stories of particular areas, so when tourists pull over, they can see this is where the emigrant trail was, this is a special type of granite, here’s where the railroad went, or even nearby hiking trails,and#8221; said David Africa, director of the historical society.

The society is looking for ideas and sponsors for 20 to 24 signs along the historic route, he said.

Each sign, including stand, cement base and UV protector, costs $305, and can include a small thank you to its sponsor, Africa said.

The campaign kicked off with Maria and Bob Montano, owners of the Donner Summit Lodge in Soda Springs, installing a prototype sign in the lobby of their restaurant.

and#8220;There is already a lot of interest in the community up here,and#8221; Africa said.

He said the historical society is working with Caltrans and Nevada County on permission for the signs along the roadway, as well as one on Interstate 80 to let people know what’s along the stretch of historic road.

The society’s more conventional museum, at the corner of Old Highway 40 and Soda Springs Road, has been thriving too, Africa said.

The museum will soon display the original plaque from Rainbow Bridge, on loan from the Truckee Donner Historical Society.

Chelsea Walterscheid, president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society, said she is excited to see the efforts on Donner Summit.

and#8220;We’re both parts of the grand picture of the Sierra,and#8221; Walterscheid said. and#8220;We both represent different parts of our history.and#8221;

To learn more about the project, suggest an idea or become a sponsor, go to donnersummithistoricalsociety.org, or stop by the Donner Summit Lodge.