Explore Placer County’s colorful history on the Heritage Trail | SierraSun.com

Explore Placer County’s colorful history on the Heritage Trail

Special to the Sun
Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.comThe bindings of early snow skis, called longboards, were typically made of leather and nailed to the ski.
ALL |

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; Artifacts in the museums, which stretch from historic Roseville and Rocklin through Penryn, Auburn, Foresthill, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Boreal Mountain Resort, Donner Summit and North Lake Tahoe, tell stories of hardship, courage and triumph.

Home to a thriving Native American culture, Placer County also played a major role in the California Gold Rush, the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad through the Sierra and later, planting orchards which provided high quality fruit to the East Coast. Today it also boasts a thriving outdoor recreation and tourism industry, built on the accomplishments of the past.

and#8220;Heritage Trail is an adventure that celebrates this regionand#8217;s remarkable past and its role today,and#8221; said Placer County Museum Administrator Melanie Barton, who is chairing the event. and#8220;It is an outstanding opportunity to bring local history to life for your family.and#8221;

For example, visitors to the Western SkiSport Museum at Boreal Mountain Resort can see the wooden skis dating from 1853, when gold miners on 14-foot and#8220;longboardsand#8221; raced at 80 miles per hour down perilous slopes for sport, alongside photos and memorabilia from the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley. The museum also houses the mailbag and skis of and#8220;Snowshoeand#8221; Thompson, who provided the only winter mail delivery service through the Sierra beginning in the 1850s.

The Donner Summit Historical Society Museum, located in Soda Springs, features the unique history of Donner Summit. There is information about Native Americans, who crossed Donner Pass thousands of years ago, leaving behind petroglyphs and grinding rocks. Exhibits focus on and#8220;first eventsand#8221; across Donner Summit, such as the first wagon train to California, the first Transcontinental Railroad, Transcontinental highway, Transcontinental telephone line and Transcontinental air route.

The Watson Cabin is the oldest building constructed on-site in Tahoe City, in 1909, and is set up as a typical Tahoe pioneer family dwelling of that era, with many artifacts from the Watson family. The cabin was built by Robert Montgomery Watson as a wedding present for his son. Docent tours are available on site.

The Gatekeeperand#8217;s Museum, also in Tahoe City, is a reconstruction of the original cabin used by the gatekeeper who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River. The original cabin was destroyed by an arson fire in the 1980s. This museum showcases Tahoe history, including Washoe inhabitants, the logging era and establishment of tourism in the Tahoe Basin. Also, the Steinbach Indian Basket collection displayed includes more than 800 vintage and contemporary Native American baskets, jewelry, pottery and dolls.

The Truckee Railroad Regulators are planning a demonstration and#8220;gun fightand#8221; on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 6, also at the Gatekeeperand#8217;s Museum.

Each of the 18 museums has something special to offer visitors. Complete Trail Guides are available now online at theheritagetrailblogspot.com and at all participating museums.

Admission is free in all locations although donations are accepted and appreciated. Some are county or city museums, others are managed by nonprofit organizations. Some museums may have special activities, such as fruit crate building, for which a donation is requested.

Sponsors of the event include Capital Public Radio, SureWest, Native Sons of the Golden West Auburn Parlor #59, and the County of Placer.

Additional information is available at http://www.placer.ca.gov/museums and theheritagetrail.blogspot.com, with links to museum web sites and Trail Guide. Call 530-889-6500 weekdays.

and#8212; Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.com