Emigrant Trail Museum

12593 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, USA

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 tribe, 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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