The historical society logo which is on each page of this site is Rainbow Bridge on old Highway 40 on Donner Summit. The real name is the Donner Summit Bridge and it was completed in 1926. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it was, at the time, built in a compound horizontal curve of 360 ft. with a 110 ft. open spandal arch. It was also the first bridge built with Federal Forest Highway Funds. The cost; $40,000.

The Logo was drawn by Nancy Oudegeest


They Came for the Same Reasons We Do

"The air has a fresh crispness about it that gives a new life to the visitor whether he has come from the fertile plains or the foggy city. And no wonder, for though this be called Summit Valley, there are seven thousand feet between you and sea level. Seven thousand feet nearer heaven and so much nearer purity. It is a relief to….look up to the stars, nowhere brighter than here, with only the dark pines closing in the distance… The air redolent with the perfume of fresh grass and wild flowers; and aromatic with pine needles. It is a physical pleasure to breathe, a 'delight to exist'… It is small wonder that a millionaire [Mark Hopkins]… should confess to be happier and healthier here than in the handsomest house on California Street. Nob Hill, to the sierras indeed."

California Spirit of the Times magazine June 13, 1885 pg 3-4

Donner Summit - the most important historical square mile in California and maybe the entire Western U.S. Native American visited by humans for thousands of years (see our petroglyph page). It is the site of the first transcontinental highway (the Lincoln Highway) the first transcontinental railroad, and the first transcontinental air route. It has been a hive of activities including many different industries: agriculture, sawmills, forestry, mink farming, ice harvesting (See the Ice in Ice Lake), dairy cattle, railroading, highway maintenance, tourism, and the ski industry. The rescued members of the Donner Party crossed Donner Summit right at the Summit. For a quick introduction to Donner Summit in PDF form with lots of pictures click here.

The Donner Summit Historical Society was formed "to offer lectures, seminars, and field trips that will help the community learn the history of Donner Summit and the surrounding area, and to collect and display artifacts... and to carry on other educational and charitable activities associated with this purpose" (Articles of Incorporation, December, 2007). The Historical Society is a 501(c)3 entity.

We hope you who are looking at this website will participate in our efforts or at least enjoy what we have to offer. If you have items you would like to lend for copying, or to donate, please let us know by contacting us.
Lots of brochures on our brochures page to download and print or take with you on your electronic devices
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February '15 The Snowsheds of Donner Summit Pt I; Snowsheds, 1880; Getting to Donner Summit in the Old Days Could Be Tough Work; Snow Makes Crossing Donner Summit Difficult; Snow Shoveling Bee; From the Archives of the DSHS; Book Review - A Reliable Car and a Woman Who Knows It; Then and Now; It's Ski Season and Time for Skis - 1912
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Norm Sayler, President
P.O. 1 Norden, CA 95724
contact us: email or our contact page