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Emigrant Trail Museum

Emigrant Trail Museum
Every Californian knows the story of the Donner Party, the ill-fated emigrants who took what they thought was a shortcut while making their way westward from Illinois in 1846. Caught in a series of early-season snowstorms near Donner Pass, the wagon train was forced to make camp and find a way to survive the brutal winter. Several members died, and some of the survivors ate their deceased companions to keep from starving to death. This epic tragedy is remembered at the Emigrant Trail Museum, located near the shores of beautiful Donner Lake. Exhibits here detail the difficulties faced by emigrants heading west across the Sierra, the construction of the railroad by Chinese workers, and the daily life of the Washoe Indians, in addition to tales of individual members of the Donner Party. You can also visit the Murphy family’s cabin, where 16 Donner Party members waited out the arduous winter. 
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Emigrant Trail Museum
If you're anything like me, when you think "Donner Pass," you think, in short, "cannibals." This part of American history seems glossed over between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. But stepping onto this land, greeted by a giant statue commemorating the height of the snow during the winter of 1847 (approx. 20 feet high, believe it or not), you get that sense of the past and just how "too easy" things are now. Luckily, unlike the way of life, the nature here hasn't changed as much – it's still absolutely beautiful. After you walk around the trails where the Donner party set up camp, be sure to stop into the Emigrant Trail museum (on site) and watch the 20-minute documentary. It's quite old, but it does a nice job of answering all your questions and helping you wrap your mind around this harrowing yet exciting time in America's past.
Emigrant Trail Museum Lake Tahoe California United States

12593 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
+1 530-582-7892
Sun - Sat 10am - 5pm