Donner Party Diary   by Daniel M. Rosen

Introduction

Read about the Donner Party in their own words, and the words of those who came to rescue them.

The Donner Party is the most well-known tragedy of the westward migration. Almost ninety wagon train emigrants were unable to cross the Sierra Nevada before winter, and almost one-half starved to death. Perhaps because they were ordinary people -- farmers, merchants, parents, children -- their story captures the imagination.

The monthly logs on this site contain the words of the participants from their diaries, letters and first-hand accounts, supplemented with information from later historians. The logs describe the locations of their trail and camps in detail so you can follow in the Donner Party’s wagon tracks and footsteps. You can refer to the bibliography to learn more about the sources of the information on this website.

You can read what happened to the members of the Donner Party, those who survived and those who didn’t. You can read about the salvage operations, and the remains of the Alder Creek campsites and the Lake Cabins.

You can also read news related to the Donner Party, including expeditions that recreated and documented the journey of the Donner Party, and reports from other Donner Party buffs who visited historic sites and made new discoveries or re-discovered a bit of history. You can also follow links to other websites about the Donner Party.


Donner Relief Expedition

The Donner Relief Expedition left Johnson’s Ranch (east of Wheatland, CA) on February 14th, 2022 and arrived at the Donner Museum at the east end of Donner Lake on February 18th, 2022, exactly 175 years after the arrival of the First Relief at the Lake cabins. The Expedition members are all accomplished ultra runners who the year before journeyed from Donner Lake to Johnson’s Ranch as the Forlorn Hope Expedition. Their Donner Party Expedition Q&A, presented upon their arrival at the Donner Museum, is available for viewing on YouTube.

Photograph of Donner Relief Expedition

Donner Relief Expedition at Donner Memorial, photographed 2022


What happened to the Donner Party during this month?