The Donner Partyby morgan pittman and morgan tungate
who was the Donner party? the Donner party was a group of american pioneers led by George Donner and James F. Reed
what happened to the Donner party? in the year of 1846 on the way to California the Donner party found their path blocked by snow they were forced to spend the winter on the east side of the mountains of the 81 infringements only 45 survived to reach California some restored to cannibalism to survive
when and where did this happen: this happened on October 28th 1846 at the summit of the sierra mountains near what is now the Donner lake named after the party
why: they were held back by many mishaps and were snowed into the sierra Nevada and had to spent the winter their resulting in unfortunate measures for survival
the tragic story of the Donner party: In mid April 1846, eight families gathered at Springfield, Il with a common goal – to find a better life beyond the Rockies. Numbering about thirty-two members that ranged in age from infants to the elderly, the expedition pointed their nine brand-new wagons west on a journey that would lead them into history. The trek had been organized by James Reed, a businessman who hoped to prosper in California. He also sought to find a temperate climate that would alleviate his wife's physical maladies. George Donner, a sixty-year-old farmer was chosen as the wagon train's captain and the expedition took his name.
They estimated it would take four months to accomplish their objective. As they traveled to the Mississippi River they joined other adventurers with the same goal until their caravan stretched for two miles while under way. Although tedious, their journey was uneventful until reaching the small trading post at Fort Bridger in modern-day Wyoming in mid-July. Here a fateful decision was made.
Before leaving Illinois, James Reed had heard of a newly discovered route through the Sierra Nevada Mountains that promised to cut as many as 300 miles off their journey.
It was at Fort Bridger that some eighty-seven members of the wagon train, including the Donner bothers and their families, decided to separate from the main body and travel this new route west. All of those who traveled the old route ended their journey safely. This was not the case with those who took the alternative path.
The culprit was snow. As the Donner Party approached the summit of the Sierra Mountains near what is now Donner Lake (known as Truckee Lake at the time) they found the pass clogged with new-fallen snow up to six feet deep. It was October 28, 1846 and the Sierra snows had started a month earlier than usual. They retreated to the lake twelve miles below where the hapless pioneers were trapped,
unable to move forward or back. Shortly before, the Donner family had suffered a broken axle on one of their wagons and fallen behind. Also trapped by the snow, they set up camp at Alder Creek six miles from the main group.
Each camp erected make-shift cabins and horded their limited supply of food. The snow continued to fall, reaching a depth of as much as twenty feet. Hunting and foraging were impossible and soon they slaughtered the oxen
that had brought them from the East. When this meat was consumed, they relied on the animals' tough hides. But it was not enough. Starvation began to take its toll. With no other remedy at hand, the survivors resorted to cannibalism.
In mid-December a group of fifteen donned makeshift snowshoes and trudged through blizzard conditions in an attempt to break through the pass and into California. Seven (five women and two men) survived to alert the community at Sutter's Fort of the Donner Party's plight.
A series of four rescue parties were launched with the first arriving at the Donner camp in late February. Between them, the rescuers were able to the lead forty-eight of the original eighty-seven members of the party to safety in California.