The Story of Kingsbury Grade

In the 1860s, it was the jumping-off point for gold-seekers heading up Daggett Pass to the goldfields of California. But today it takes a little searching to find the spot.

Well, not that much searching. There’s a nice, big historical marker to tell you you’re in the right place. Just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find the sign on the west side of Foothill Road, between Mottsville and Muller Lanes.

Historic marker photo by Karen Dustman.

The Kingsbury trail originally began as a Washoe footpath, used for generations to reach the lake. After the Gold Rush hit, the merchants of Georgetown, California sent paid boosters here to convince emigrants that the “Georgetown Cutoff” over this pass (going through Georgetown, of course) would be faster and easier than following the Carson Canyon route. False advertising, as emigrants would painfully discover.

The early trail over the pass was more of a footpath than a road. But in August, 1860, Kingsbury and McDonald finished improving it into a 7-mile-long wagon road: “the best on the Pacific coast,” as some viewers glowingly reported. In some places, the new wagon road was a generous sixteen feet wide. But on a few sharp curves it narrowed to just 8 feet where it was difficult to keep “wheels on the timber.”

For more of the story, check out Karen’s book, “Forgotten Tales of Carson Valley” (available on Amazon or You can also “like” Clairitage Press on Facebook.


Learn about Carson Valley’s fascinating history. Find your copy at the Carson Valley Museum, Dangberg Home Ranch State Park, Mormon Station State Park, or at

















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