Crossing Highway 49 in El Dorado County, Highway 50 is a special story. John C. Johnson blazed a trail from Dry Diggings over Echo Summit to Lake Valley at South Lake Tahoe in 1848. Johnson's Cutoff was the most direct and quickest way over the Sierra. Stagecoaches crossed in 1857. Improved in 1858, Hawley Grade was built by the County down Echo Summit to Luther Pass Road. Just in time too, because discovery of silver in Nevada's Comstock in 1859 led to a head-to-tailgate stream east into the valley. Cargo traffic eased after the Central Pacific Railroad (Union Pacific) crossed Donner Pass in 1867. But in the winter snow closed the road, except for Snowshoe Thompson who hiked and used homemade snow skates to carry the US Mail back and forth between Placerville and Genoa, Nevada. Pony Express rider galloped over the route in 1860-61. In 1860 private operators completed the road as a tollway. The State Bureau of Highways was created in 1895 and purchased the road making it the first state highway. Paving was done in 1923.