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You Think Winters In Buffalo Are Tough?

Interstate 80 in California thru the Donner Pass (Getty Images)

I’m sure you know the story of the Donner party. They were traveling from Springfield, Illinois headed to California when they got stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by the snow and cold. Only half of the 89 people made it to California the following spring. They survived by eating the people who died.

Their troubles began on this date in 1846 – the beginning of August when they took a new and supposedly shorter route laid out by a shady trail guide. He was leading an earlier wagon train along the new route and left word for the Donner party that he would mark the trail for them.

When they got to where he said there was an easy pass thru the Wasatch Mountains, instead they found a note on a stick that it wasn’t as easy as he thought and told them to wait for him. So they waited and waited.

One week turned into two and finally after 18 days word came from the guide to follow another route, but this route was even worse than the one he told them not to use.

They had to cut their way thru trees and over and around boulders. It cost them valuable time and put them way behind schedule.

By the time they got to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in late October, heavy snowfall blocked the mountain passes and they were trapped.

They had hoped to get to California by September, but those wasted days in August cost them not only time, but for half of them, their lives.


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