History of Truckee
Truckee got its name from a Paiute chief named Tru-ki-zo. He was the father of Chief Winnemucca and grandfather of Sarah Winnemucca. The first Europeans who came to cross the Sierra Nevada encountered his tribe. The friendly Chief rode toward them yelling “Tro-kay!”, which is Paiute for “Everything is all right”. The unaware travelers assumed he was yelling his name.
Truckee was originally inhabited by Native American Tribes Shoshone and Paiute. They were last visually seen in the Truckee area in the 1850s.
Truckee’s most famous historical event is that of the Donner Party. In 1846, a group of settlers from Illinois (originally known as the Donner-Reed Party), encountered an early winter and became snowbound. They chose several times to take shortcuts to save distance and tried to pass near the Truckee River (now Donner Pass) and were delayed in their journey. An immense and early blizzard brought the settlers to a stop at the edge of what is now Donner Lake about 90 miles east of their final destination near Sacramento. They attempted to cart the remaining wagons by rope over the summit but this proved impossible due to the freezing conditions and lack of any existent trail. The party returned without supply to the edge of Donner Lake. Some of the camp revisited Alder Creek campsite a few miles to the east. The brutal winter brought on starvation and rumors of cannibalism circulated. Of the original 87 settlers, 48 survived the ordeal against all odds. The Donner Memorial State Park is dedicated to the settlers and is located at the East End of Donner Lake.
- Population of Truckee was 16,180 as of a 2010 census.
- Truckee has a total area of 33.7 square miles, of which, 32.3 square miles of it is land and 1.3 square miles of it is water, mostly the Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe.
- Warmest month is July with an average temperature of 82.7°F and an average minimum temperature of 42.4 °F
- January is the coldest month with an average maximum temperature of 40.9 °F and an average minimum temperature of 16.3 °F
- The record maximum temperature of 104 °F (40 °C) was on July 6, 2007.
- The record minimum temperature of -28 °F (-30.6 °C) was on February 27, 1962.
- Truckee has an average of 204.4 inches (519.2 cm) of snow annually, which makes it the 5th snowiest city in the United States.
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Western stagecoach companies were big business in the latter half of the 19th century. In addition to passengers and freight, stages hauled gold and silver bullion as well as mining company payrolls.
Stage robbery was a constant danger and bandits employed many strategies to ambush a stagecoach. Thieves rarely met with much resistance from stage drivers, since they had passenger safety foremost in mind. The gang was usually after the Wells Fargo money box with its valuable contents. Passengers were seldom hurt, but they were certainly relieved of their cash, watches and jewelry.
Before the completion of the transcontinental railroad over Donner Pass in 1868, the only transportation through the Sierra was by stage. Rugged teamsters held rein over six wild-eyed horses as they tore along the precipitous mountain trails. The stagecoaches were driven by skilled and fearless men who pushed themselves and their spirited horses to the limit.
One of the most famous drivers was Charles Darkey Parkhurst, who had come west from New England in 1852 seeking his fortune in the Gold Rush. He spent 15 years running stages, sometimes partnering with Hank Monk, the celebrated driver from Carson City.
Over the years, Pankhurst’s reputation as an expert whip grew. From 20 feet away he could slice open the end of an envelope or cut a cigar out of a man’s mouth. Parkhurst smoked cigars, chewed wads of tobacco, drank with the best of them, and exuded supreme confidence behind the reins. His judgment was sound and pleasant manners won him many friends.
One afternoon as Charley drove down from Carson Pass the lead horses veered off the road and a wrenching jolt threw him from the rig. He hung on to the reins as the horses dragged him along on his stomach. Amazingly, Parkhurst managed to steer the frightened horses back onto the road and save all his grateful passengers.
NO PATIENCE FOR CROOKS
During the 1850s, bands of surly highwaymen stalked the roads. These outlaws would level their shotguns at stage drivers and shout, “Throw down the gold box!” Charley Parkhurst had no patience for the crooks despite their demands and threatening gestures.
The most notorious road agent was nicknamed “Sugarfoot.” When he and his gang accosted Charley’s stage, it was the last robbery the thief ever attempted. Charley cracked his whip defiantly, and when his horses bolted, he turned around and fired his revolver at the crooks. Sugarfoot was later found dead with a fatal bullet wound in his stomach.