National Register of Historic Places in Nevada County

Donner Memorial State Park
28 February 2008
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #66000218
Donner Camp
South Shore Drive at Donner Pass Road
Donner Memorial State Park

The sites of the cabins where the Donner Party wintered are in three locations.

Included within the Donner Memorial State Park are the sites of the Murphy Cabin and the Breen-Keseberg Cabin. Across I-80 and about a half mile east is the site of the Reed-Graves Cabin. About five miles to the north in the Tahoe National Forest lies the Alder Creek site of George and Jacob Donner. There each family built a separate tipi using the wagon tilt and brush.

All that remains of the dreadful camp is a large rock against which the Murphys built their cabin and the quiet of the forest. A plaque marks the rock.

An heroic statue dedicated in 1918 and showing a pioneer family facing westward marks the site of the Breen-Keseberg Cabin. To the east is a modern building housing a museum.

Across the highway and a short distance to the east is a simple white wooden cross marking the site of the Reed-Graves cabin.

The Alder Creek Camp, five miles north, is impressively natural and lonely. On a fine summer's day it is a lovely camping place, untroubled by modern intrusions save for simple interpretive signs put up by the Forest Service. Fine tall trees reach for the sky. A lush meadow stretches away to the east and the violet-purple of the mountains, seen at a distance, seem hardly threatening. Cut into the face of the land, the ruts of the Emigrant Trail are still visible.

In winter, the snow can be as deep as a man on horseback is tall.

Excepted from the NRHP nomination.

Donner Camp is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark 134.

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