The Donner Party
American Experience Season 5

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Episode Info

A mid-1800s wagon train headed for California made a judgment error when they decided to take a short-cut through the Sierra Nevadas. As they made their way through Donner Pass, a blizzard hit and the group of 87 settlers became trapped for five months by the snow. Desperate, some of the group turned to cannabalism to survive. Producer Burns used journals, archival photos, and modern photography of the sites to develop the emotional film.

The Donner Party Photos