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U.S. History Topics » States & Regions » West

Donner Party

provides a transcript, map, and essays for a TV program that tells the harrowing tale of what tragically became one of the most famous of wagon trains. The Donner party set out from Springfield, Illinois, for California in the spring of 1846. In July, following advice from a guide book, they split off from the main body of the wagon train to take an untried shortcut. Read excerpts from the diary of a Donner party survivor. (WGBH, National Endowment for the Humanities)

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Interesting Fact:

The promise of a fresh start in a wide open land. The opportunity to escape the oppression of overcrowded cities. The lure of undiscovered riches and the conceit of a Manifest Destiny. For legions of Americans in the mid-19th century, the call of the West could not be ignored. And so they came -- saints and sinners, dreamers and schemers -- to claim their place in the ever-expanding American landscape.
In May 1846 nine covered wagons made the slow journey to the mythical West. Among the travelers were those individuals who would come to comprise the Donner Party.

Donner party route

 This website also appears in:
U.S. History Topics »  States & Regions »  California
U.S. Time Periods »  1801-1861: Expansion » 

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