|Back on board our motor coach we head for Donner Memorial State Park for a visit to the museum to learn more about the heroic story of the Donner Party. Then follow the old highway over Donner Summit to imagine ourselves as pioneers crossing this formidable Sierra pass.
To reach California from the East, pioneer emigrants had to get their wagons over the Sierra. In 1844, the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party followed the Truckee River up into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and thus became the first overland emigrants to use the pass. The pass received its name, however, from another group of California-bound emigrants.
In early November 1846, the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the eastern side of the mountains. Of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.
Continue onward on our return trip to Sacramento.