There were many inns or stations along the original Kit Carson emigrant trail over which the early pioneers who braved the treacherous trip overland into California traveled. As it was with other early roads, the inns and trading posts were located at very close intervals along this road, which, after significant modification, a portion of which would become a part of Highway 88.
Places with names like the Hope Valley Hotel, Hoboken Hotel, Shipley and Dupont’s at Tragedy Springs and Leak Springs Trading Post disappeared when this immigration route, much of which had been pioneered by a large group of Mormons heading eastward towards Salt Lake City, was soon replaced by the easier Johnson’s Cut-Off route along the American River Canyon to Placerville.
When the mines in the Comstock area of Nevada came into production, this road, which had become the boundary between El Dorado County and the newly formed Amador County, was improved as a route to Nevada from Amador County. It would be along this road, in a high mountain meadow, that a dairyman named Zack Kirkwood would summer his herd.
In 1861, the citizens of Amador county unsuccessfully attempted to issue bonds to improve a connecting road from a point about 25 miles east of Jackson to the immigrant trail. In May of the next year they were more successful and obtained the backing of the voters.
Eight citizens of Amador county were given the franchise to build the road and collect tolls along it. Bonds were issued at 12 percent interest to finance the road which was to be 16 feet wide with no grade of more than 18 percent. By August of that year the road reached Silver Lake. Just a couple of months later it connected with the immigrant road on a ridge just east of Tragedy Springs (Iron Mountain Road / Mormon Immigrant Trail intersection with Highway 88).
Freight wagons used what soon became known as the Amador-Nevada Road, Amador Wagon Road or Alpine Highway to haul Amador County produce and lumber to the Comstock mines, although most traffic going that way continued to pass through Placerville and up the American River Canyon.