Fifty years ago, "Jeepers Jamboree" was a name born in jest. It was suggested by a small group of Rotarians and friends who met at the home of Mark Smith to work on an idea to boost the depressed economy of the Georgetown Divide. Today, Jeepers Jamboree, Jeep Jamboree USA, and the Rubicon Trail, where it all began, are practically household names. Well, at least they are to the 3000 Jeepers who navigated this rugged and renowned trail in celebration of its Golden Anniversary this summer.
In the five decades since the first annual Jeep trek across the Sierra Nevadas from Georgetown, California, to Lake Tahoe via the old Rubicon Trail, this event--composed of a 22-mile-long, bone-jarring drive at speeds of 3-5 mph with a stopover in a site of wilderness beauty--has become a legend in the annals of Jeeping and 4x4 history throughout the world. In 1953, "Jeep Master" Mark Smith led 55 vehicles and 155 people up granite slabs, over boulders and logs, and down the torturous Big Sluice Box into the peaceful Rubicon Valley, to camp in the meadows, where native Americans and turn-of-the-century adventurers came to drink and soak in the healing water of the Rubicon's mineral springs.