Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Nevada County
The Donner Camp Interpretive Trail is a flat, one-third mile loop with six signs containing excerpts from the letters and diaries of Donner Party members.
Nearly half of the Donner Party died in these mountains. The rest survived the ordeal with bitter memories of cold, hunger and death.
Source: Adapted from Tahoe National Forest website
The Fight to Stay Alive
By December 20th, the outlook was grim. Jacob Donner and three of the teamsters had died. The cold and the dampness were constant. As snow piled higher, dry fire wood was harder to find.
Tall tree stumps were once numerous throughout this area. They were cut by the Donner Party during their winter-long mission of gathering firewood. Stump heights, up to 12 feet, give an indication of the snow depth that winter.
Food was scarce. Hunting opportunities were rare. When the meat from the oxen and horses was gone, the starving emigrants resorted to boiling hides, eating the resultant gluey mass. Crushed bones were boiled into broth."
Did the poor starving emigrants eventually resort to cannibalism here at Alder Creek? Many say they did. Others disagree. What would you do if it was the only way to keep you or your loved ones alive?
"I don't know what I would have done sometimes without the comforting prayers of those two women..:" John Baptiste Trudeau
A statement made about Tamzene and Elizabeth Donner, made to Eliza Donner Houghton many years later.