Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Truckee, California: Pioneer Monument
Back in the winter of 1846-47, the Donner Party was attempting to finish a crossing of the North American continent. The problem is that they made a lot of mistakes along the way, mostly in the form of delays.
Therefore, when winter's full fury arrived, the Party was in the Sierra Nevada mountains and not in, say, downtown San Francisco. The group built cabins and did the best they could, but it was a bad time to be in that part of the world. The snow piled up and piled up. When one member of the group died, the others had to practice cannibalism in order to survive -- which is what most people remember about the story.
Help arrived in February or so, as 48 of 87 made it to safety in California. The Donner Party probably would be surprised to see a state park named after it (particularly since state parks really didn't exist then). The monument is designed to be a tribute to all those who crossed the mountains in those pioneer times.
The area has a visitors' center, which has an old but useful film about the Donner Party. And it's a short walk on a trail to see where a couple of the cabins weren.