Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Donner Memorial State Park

 Pioneer Monument with 22 ft (6.7 m) of Snow Depth at the Top of the Shaft
We had a very interesting time visiting the Donner Memorial State Park while we were staying at the Ritz Tahoe. It’s only about a half hour up the road and definitely worth spending some time to see the actual area that the poor Donner party spent the horrible years 1846-1847. 

Emigrant Covered Wagon in Museum
It’s a brutal story and it’s estimated that about two hundred thousand visitors, mostly curious about the extremely unpleasant cannibalism facet of the Donner story, stop at the state park each year. What happened to those people is one of the most terrible stories of the Old West.

Face of this Rock formed the Fireplace of the Murphy Cabin
In April 1846, a group of Midwestern families left Independence, Missouri, bound for California. Their wagon train went pretty well over the Great Plains and through the Rockies, but was seriously delayed when a “shortcut” leading southwest up and through the Sierras where they were stopped by an early and brutal snowstorm. A breakdown in civilized behavior followed: the emigrants quarreled constantly; one man killed another; an old man was left on the trail to die.

Donner Creek

The severe snowstorm that prevented passage over the High Sierra forced the doomed Donner party to spend the winter near present-day Truckee. Forty-one of the 89 would-be settlers perished. When their provisions and oxen were consumed, the desperate emigrants were eventually forced to cannibalize their dead friends and relatives to try to stay alive.

There’s an interesting Emigrant Trail Museum and a short nature walk where you can see where some of the original cabins were stood. The Pioneer Monument is quite interesting too. The shaft of the moment shows the 22 foot depth of the snow. The Breen cabin originally stood near the monument.

Fun at Donner Lake
Donner Lake is a very beautiful place to just come and hangout. There’s boats to rent, trails to hike and beaches to swim from at the lovely lake.

Highly recommended!

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