Cate Culver – The Untold History of Sonora Pass

Cate Culver 

The Untold History of Sonora Pass and Its People:


Cate’s new book

Sonora Pass, located north of the famous Tioga Pass that leads to Yosemite, is not well known. Extremely steep, and carved into granite like much of the Sierra, the pass is a hidden jewel.  Who were the people who built the roads, established resorts, grazed cattle, constructed dams, made movies, and built cabins on Sonora Pass? A community unto itself, Sonora Pass has a rich history, and Cate Culver has unearthed and recorded the stories and information that would have been lost to time.

In 1944 Cate Culver’s family purchased a cabin near Eagle Creek east of Dardanelle. From her earliest childhood, Cate spent summers at breakfast tables and around campfires, listening to the stories and learning the history of Sonora Pass. Getting out old black-and-white photographs often started the conversation. Cate realized that the history and the photographs needed to be recorded and saved. She began several years of research, including interviews with family members and friends of the original Sonora Pass pioneers. Over ninety of the old-timers were interviewed in person and many are brought to life in this remarkable history of the men and women who pioneered Sonora Pass.


In memory of my parents Edson and Ruth Wells Caldwell and my sister Constance Lucile Fry who were all history enthusiasts.


Cate as a little girl at the family cabin, still standing—both of them!

Cate Culver’s multi-media painting on wood called “Phoenix Rising” based on the Butte Fire in 2015. The implements below the fire are from a friend’s burned home and pulled from the rubble, affixed to the piece. This piece is in a business in San Andreas that was dedicated to helping people during and after the fire– Little Owl Security at