Over a period of some fifteen years, a portion of the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road, in use as a foot trail, has been blocked, where it enters the property of one Frank Cadjew, between Donner Lake and Donner Pass. Recently I read in the Grass Valley Union that two of the Nevada County Supervisors favored abandoning the public easement on the old road, and relocating the "stock trail" (for that is how it was described). I wrote a letter to the Union, suggesting that the trail, in its historic alignment, be left open. Then, a man named Rick Martel, who is involved in the fight to keep this historic trail open, asked me to write a letter for the Sierra Sun.
Editor of the Sun:
With regard to Supervisor Owens' "'Whoa' on the stock trail," I am pleased that he values historical integrity. This "stock trail" is also the historic Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road, dating to 1864. Several of the first businesses at Donner Lake and Truckee were owned by Dutch Flat men, including my relatives, the Towle brothers, who sawed lumber for the CPRR snowsheds.
Almost all the historic public trails in this part of the Sierra saw plenty of sheep and cattle; but there was much recreational use as well, from the Gold Rush forward. Think of author Alonzo Delano and actress Lola Montez, visiting the local high country, in 1853. Think of painter Gilbert Munger, on the North Fork American below Old Soda Springs, in 1872.
A wonderful network of trails existed here, trails, and old wagon roads, before Tahoe National Forest came into existence, in 1905. Naturally, these old trails became Forest trails, and were patrolled and maintained by Forest rangers.
Unfortunately, unrestrained timber harvests have ruined many of these historic trails. Others have been gated closed, or blocked in some way, or blazoned with "no trespassing" signs. At the bottom line, we have done a terrible job of preserving the fine old trails bequeathed to us by our parents and grandparents. It is a terrible, terrible thing to lose public trails, to lose The Commons and our access to The Commons!
What about the Big Granite Trail? What about the Sugar Pine Point Trail? The Big Valley Trail, Mears Meadow Trail, Monumental Creek Trail, Big Bend-Devils Peak Trail, Long Valley Trail?
Ruined, ruined, ruined, ruined.
I do not know all the facts in this Donner Lake case, but I would beg Mr. Cadjew to remove his signs and barricades, and accept, please accept, that his property is encumbered with an historic public trail, the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road.