Points of Historic Interest in Washoe County
In 1844 the Townsend-Stephens-Murphy Party became the first wagon train to reach California over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Their rugged route through the Truckee River Canyon was hazardous to the pioneers and their animals, so in 1845 mountain man Caleb Greenwood blazed an alternate trail north of the river. It runs from what is now Verdi, Nevada, past Dog Valley and on to Donner Lake.
This trail was later used by the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846 and by Gold Rush pioneers after 1848 and is marked on either side of Dog Valley Road, west of this marker. In the terrible winter of 1846-47, the Donner Party was entrapped by a series of snowstorms at what is now Donner Lake and at a campsite at Alder Creek. Of the 81 men, women, and children at the high camps only 46 reached their destination in the California settlements. Some survivors resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.
Von Schmidt Monument Historic Park has four interpretive markers in addition to the Truckee/Donner Trail marker: Overview, California/Nevada Boundary Marker, Henness Pass Road and the Town of Crystal Peak.