Jon Torsteinson-Rue

Jon Torsteinson-Rue

Jon Torsteinson-Rue was born in Norway in 1827. At the age of ten the family emigrated to the United States and settled in Iowa.

When Torsteinson-Rue heard about the Californian Gold Rush, he drove a herd of cattle to California. He settled in Placerville and mined in Kelsey Diggens,Coon Hollow and Georgetown. With the money he made he purchased a small ranch at Putah Creek in the Sacramento Valley.

In 1855 Torsteinson-Rue read an article about the difficulties of carrying post across the Sierra Nevada mountains. He remembered as a young child people in Norway people using skies to travel across the snow. After making his own 10 foot long, 25 pound oak skies, Torsteinson-Rue volunteered his services as a mailman.

Torsteinson-Rue made his first mail run in January, 1856. For the next 20 winters, regardless of weather, he took mail between Placerville, California, and Mormon Station, Utah, four times a month. The round trip took five days. His treks over snowdrifts up to 50 feet high and through blizzards in over 80 mile per hour winds, to deliver mail to those living in isolation became legendary.

As well as the weather, Torsteinson-Rue had to cope with grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves. He carried no gun as this would have restricted the amount of mail he carried.

Jon Torsteinson-Rue who changed his name to John Thompson, carried mail between California and Utah until his death from appendicitis on 15th May, 1876.