Sierra Speaker Series: The History of Highway 40

Submitted to the Sierra Sun

The Sierra State Parks Foundation presents the first of five presentations as a part of the Golden Spike Celebration – the 150th anniversary of the Donner Summit-Truckee Transcontinental Railroad.

Norm Saylor, board president of the Donner Summit Historical Society, will speak on the History of Old Highway 40 and the impact on this area. U.S. 40 is one of the most important and historic highways in the United States. Its route runs over the National Road, the United States’ first federally funded road and comprised the western half of the Lincoln Highway.

This talk will include old photos, discussion, and questions regarding history.

“Highway 40 served as one of the earliest routes for supplies and construction materials up to Donner Summit,” Saylor said. “The Transcontinental Railroad would not have existed without the help of the old highway.”

The program will occur on May 18 at the Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center located at 12593 Donner Pass Road in Truckee.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with the program beginning at 5:30 p.m. There is a suggested $5 donation to attend and the State Park parking fee is waived for the evening. Complimentary light snacks and wine is available for purchase.

Saylor has been a resident of Donner Summit for 55 years, 46 of which he was in charge of all operations at Donner Ski Ranch. He is an avid collector of books, memorabilia, and pictures of Donner Summit. He was instrumental in having old Highway 40 designated as a historical highway. Seating is limited.

For more information about the Sierra Speaker Series and other events sponsored by the Sierra State Parks Foundation, call 530-583-9911 or visit

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