Though one of the Sierra's most beautiful lakes, Donner Lake is still known primarily for a tragedy at the very beginning of California's American period.
The Donner Party crossed the prairies and mountains with a train of nine covered wagons in the summer of 1846. Through a chain of mishaps, bad decisions, and bad advice, they started late and fell steadily further behind the rest of that year's emigrant parties. They joined with other parties, then split apart, and ended up at Donner Lake, only five miles from the Sierra summit, in November after snow had begun to fall. Relief expeditions were sent in February and March. Of the 87 members of the party who had crossed the Wasatch Range together only 48 survived. Allegations of cannibalism have been debated ever since.
A new museum has been built at this historic location. The lake itself is ringed with vacation houses.Donner Memorial State Park
Donner Lake West EndMarinas and beaches at the west end of Donner Lake
near Truckee, CaliforniaDate photographed: June 19, 2012
Donner Party MemorialMemorial statue depicting the Donner Party and construction on the new High Sierra Crossing Museum
Donner Memorial State Park, near Truckee, CaliforniaDate photographed: June 19, 2012
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