Check in with the Western SkiSports Museum at Donner Summit:
They have an exhibit on Snowshoe Thompson and probably have some of his skis or replicas thereof.
Skiers of the era used hardwood skis for their durability. They stood up to water much better than lighter, softer woods so would be much less likely to dry out and break. If you were Thompson, you'd know that breaking a ski in the deep Sierra snow 20 miles from the nearest shelter could be a serious issue, if not a death sentence. If you couldn't get hickory, you'd use ash or oak or straight-grain maple.
My own skis have a core of laminated oak and ash. They're a lot more lively and stable than foam-core and plywood-core skis.
Snowshoe Thompson's Skis
I'm trying to hunt down info on Thompson's skis. I would like to make a pair and try to do his route through the Sierra's in Winter.
*What were the bindings like?
*Did he put skins on the bottom, and if so, what animal?
*What type of wood and length were the skis? I've heard oak and that they were 10ft long. I would be surprised at the choice of oak. Why not a lighter wood?