Truckee History

Explore Truckee's History

Truckee is a place rich in history with a quaint downtown that hosts charming shops and superb restaurants set in authentic historic buildings. Recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Truckee proudly retains its historic roots. Named for a Paiute Indian chief who helped guide thousands of emigrants in their westward journey through 40-mile desert. Truckee is well known for its logging, ice manufacturing, the Emigrant Trail, as well as for the tragic expedition of the Donner Party. You can discover much more about their captivating story at Donner Memorial State Park museum and Pioneer Monument.

Museums + Historical Sites

Historical Sites, Museums

Historical Site - Petroglyphs
The summit has many petroglyphs left by Native Americans between 1500 to 4000 years ago. The most accessible site is below Donner Pass on Old Hwy 40. There are more than 200 elements near the marker.
Donner Summit
Soda Springs, CA
Early in the 20th century, Truckee was one of Hollywood?s favorite sites for making movies. Nearly 100 movies or sequences have been filmed in or near Truckee including Chaplin's Gold Rush in 1925.
Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
Veterans Hall
Historic site where C.F. McGlashan built a museum in the late 1800s, features The Rocking Stone, a sacred site of the early Washoe and Veterans Hall domed structure, now a parks and rec facility.
10214 High Street
Truckee, CA 96161
Built in 1924 by the U.S. Bureau of Roads with forest highway funds, Rainbow Bridge connected the Lake Tahoe and Donner Summit areas with Lincoln Highway, largely to facilitate logging and tourism.
Donner Summit
Soda Springs, CA
Historical Site - Pioneer Monument
Near the Visitor Center in Donner Memorial State Park, the Pioneer Monument is dedicated to the pioneers who crossed the Sierra on their way to the west in the 1800s.
12593 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
A 6-mile paved bike path (plowed in winter) along the Truckee River from Truckee River Regional Park to Glenshire neighborhood and accessing Riverview Sports Park with historical and art landmarks.
Truckee River Regional Park
Truckee, CA 96161
Tour Truckee's historic Old Jail in downtwon Truckee, used continuously from 1875 to May 1964. The museum also contains relics from other early important Truckee industries.
10142 Jibboom Street
Truckee, CA 96161
Historical Site - 20 Mile Museum, Old Highway 40
This 20-mile roadside ''museum'' brings history to life with dozens of interpretive signs along Old Highway 40, from Truckee to Auburn, with historical photos and information as well as activities.
21501 Donner Pass Rd
Soda Springs, CA 95724
Cottonwood Restaurant
Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar has it all; a vibrant heritage from its origin as a 1928-era ski lodge, a lively music scene, a full bar, and an adventurous fine dining menu.
10142 Rue Hilltop Rd.
Truckee, CA 96161
The Truckee Donner Railroad Museum is a timeline of life, individuals, industry, and railroading in and around Truckee with artifacts and exhibits, lectures, and documentary films.
10065 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
Experience Truckee's past when you stay at ''The Richardson House, a beautiful historic Victorian in Truckee/North Tahoe. Book direct with hosts Bob and Jeannine and avoid Airbnb or VRBO booking fees.
10154 High St.
Truckee, CA 96161
Olympic history museum at High Camp in Squaw Valley, showcasing the 1960 Winter Olympics held there as well as current Squaw Valley Olympian memorabilia.
1960 Squaw Valley Road
High Camp
Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Historical Site - Donner Camp Trail at Alder Creek
Interpretive 1/3 mile trail with plaque commemorating where part of the Donner Party camped near Alder Creek, trapped during the severe winter of 1846-47.
CA 89 & Alder Creek
Truckee, CA 96161
KidZone Museum
KidZone Museum serves Truckee and North Lake Tahoe. We are a non-profit dedicated to inspire learning through creative play and discovery.
11711 Donner Pass Rd.
Truckee, CA 96161
We operate a Donner Summit Historic Museum on the summit, as well as the 20 Mile Museum, which includes interpretive signs of historic sites along Old Highway 40 from Truckee to Auburn.
21501 Donner Pass Rd
Soda Springs, CA 95724
Sugar Bowl, opened in 1940, offers an extraordinary mountain resort experience with four great peaks, endless cross country trails, a world-class ski team and academy, and a magical snowbound village.
629 Sugar Bowl Rd
Norden, CA 95724
This museum was developed as an exhibition of Western North American ski history in 1969.The history of California skiing and legendary mailman, Snowshoe Thompson, who rescued miners are key exhibits.
19749 Boreal Ridge Road
Soda Springs, CA 95728
Serving as the library for the Truckee Donner Historical Society, the Joseph Research Cabin is one of two cabins preserved of what was originally the historic Gateway Motel built in the 1930s.
10115 Donner Trail Rd
Truckee, CA 96161
US 40 is one of the most important & historic highways in the U.S. Its route runs over the National Road, the U.S.'s first federally funded road and comprised the western half of the Lincoln Highway.
Donner Summit & Donner Pass Rd
Truckee, CA 96161
Truckee Donner Historical Society & Museum
Truckee-Donner Historical Society was founded to preserve the history of the Truckee - Donner area. We maintain the historic Joseph Research Cabin, the Old Jail Museum and other important sites.
PO Box 893
Truckee, CA 96160
Flying A Gas Station
The Flying A Gas Station in Truckee, originally built in 1936, is one of several Flying A stations built in the same architectural style around that time in California. The building was restored in 20
10091 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
Donner Summit is the site of the first transcontinental railroad, the first transcontinental highway (Lincoln), the first transcontinental air route, and the first transcontinental telephone line.
Donner Summit
Soda Springs, CA
New museum of Truckee's history of the Emigrant Experience, including the Donner Party, the Land of the Washoe, Chinese construction of the railroad and early motoring adventures over Donner Pass.
13021 Donner Pass Rd
Truckee, CA 96161
Throughout the '70s and '80s Donner Summit was a training ground for the world's best; they came to this relatively small but dense climbing area to push the limits of hard free ascents,.
Donner Summit
Soda Springs, CA
Historical Site - China Wall & Memorial Marker
The ''China Wall'' was one of two walls and four tunnels constructed by the Chinese railroad workers to make train travel possible to the west. A memorial recognizes their hard work and bravery.
Donner Summit
Soda Springs, CA 95278
The North Lake Tahoe Historical Society (NLTHS) was founded in 1969 by a group of concerned citizens who were passionate about preserving Tahoe’s history, and telling its exciting, rich history.
130 West Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA 96145
Historic Squaw Valley Chapel
PO Box 7437
Tahoe City, CA 96145

Historical Timeline

Truckee historical timeline

 

Truckee history  and timeline 1800s

Truckee history timeline, 1900's

Truckee history, timeline later 1900s

See more details at the Truckee Historical Society's website >

Roadside History Markers

Along Old Highway 40, also known as the Lincoln Highway,  you will find historical markers telling the story of this famous gateway to the west. Known as Donner Summit Scenic Old High 40 Bypass, the markers extend from Cisco Grove to Donner Lake. Learn More

Truckee Donner Historical Society

Truckee-Donner Historical Society was founded July 24, 1968 to preserve the history of the Truckee - Donner area. Besides maintaining the historic Joseph Research Cabin (the Gateway Cabin), the Society is also responsible for operating the Old Jail Museum which was built in 1875. The Society maintains the Community Memorial Garden including the Memorial Arch behind the Old Jail Museum, the Donner Cross, and Schaffer Cemetery.  Learn More