On this spot, which marks the summit of the Kit Carson Pass (8,600 feet elevation), stood what's known as the Kit Carson Tree on which the famous scout Kit Carson inscribed his name in 1844 when he guided the then Captain John C. Fremont, head of a government exploring expedition, over the Sierra Nevada.
On February 20, 1844, Fremont and Carson reached Kit Carson Pass where they looked out across the magnificent panorama of snowy ridges and towering peaks intercepted by deep canyons. They saw "a shining line of water directing its course towards another, a broader and larger sheet," which they believed to be the Sacramento River meeting the San Francisco Bay. After carving his name and the date in a tree, Carson and Fremont continued their journey, crossing the divide between West Carson Canyon and the American River, creating what would later be named Kit Carson Pass.
The original inscription was cut from the tree in 1888 and is now in Sutter's Fort, Sacramento. The marker is located at the parking area of the Kit Carson Monument above Red Lake. Also visit the Memorial to Pioneer Odd Fellows nearby.
During his expeditions in the Sierra Nevada, Frémont also became the first American to see Lake Tahoe. Carson later played a minor role in California's Bear Flag Revolt during the 1846–1848 Mexican-American War.
High in the Sierra Nevada along the eastern edge of California, Alpine County is sparsely populated. In 1844, John C. Fremont’s expedition, accompanied by Kit Carson, passed through the area and over today’s Carson Pass. The Overland Emigrant Trail passed through this county, and is marked today by yellow painted iron markers and plaques.