Expedition Findings Rationale

Introduction

Our primary goal is to discover the best of our abilities, the trail of the Forlorn Hope (the Snowshoe Party) from the east edge of Truckee Lake to the Johnson’s Ranchero approximately 90 miles west and then reprise the entire journey as an expedition team of four, commemorating the 174th anniversary of the Forlorn Hope, December 16th, 2020.

Research the Forlorn Hope presents several obstacles of note:

    • No forensic evidence
    • Class 5 Approximate Trail[1] (trail is obliterated or unverifiable that its location is known only approximately)
    • Minimal primary sources (diaries, journals, survivor accounts)
    • Historical revisionism –

1. Unconscious (clouded memory, distressed state, unfamiliar territory [lost]) and 

2. Conscious (protecting one’s reputation, uncomfortable topics [i.e. cannibalism] which resulted in murky recounting of the journey by survivors)

    • Sensationalism, historical fiction with expanded liberties taken on the ‘imaginative reconstruction’ of historical events and personages for reasons of self-aggrandizement, article or book sales, ego, etc.
    • Challenging accessibility to postulated route(s) due to rugged wilderness, disruptions (roads, pipelines, railroads, mining, forestry, dams and reservoirs, buildings, fires, etc.) and inability to traverse private lands

We have relied foremost upon extensive in-the-field surveying and first-hand observation, putting ourselves in the place of the pioneer, as Olive Newell[2] stated, “the emigrant experience.” We have taken into consideration not just the landscape, but the mitigating conditions that would alter one’s path; 

    • being on foot (opposed to with wagon or horse), 
    • impact of snow on covering trails and altering and flattening terrain, 
    • weather, daylight, moonlight, 
    • terrain (steepness, density of forest, rocks, boulders, proximity to water and game (to hunt), 
    • vegetation growth, 
    • vistas (for unobstructed broad views, covering (slippery, mud, snow), 
    • physical, mental and emotional debilitation which undoubtedly mitigated one’s ability to think and act logically at times.

We complement our field work with rigorous research utilizing primary sources and credible secondary sources based upon persistent attention to details and unadorned facts, thoroughly researched printed histories, digital sites and a preponderance of related resources and links. A full bibliography accompanies this document in Appendix A.

We’ve applied trail discovery methodology and research tools similar to that of Don Wiggins, noted trail researcher and member of the Oregon California Trail Association (OCTA) since1989. Wiggins’ research process is described as, “…gathering as many emigrant diary accounts as possible that described in any way the trail segments being investigated. …Then he would identify similarities and discrepancies among the various descriptions, arranging them – really, as clues – in some kind of sequential order that would reveal the course, direction, and location of the trail segment under investigation. Taking these eyewitness clues into the field showed Wiggins where to look for trail remains, topographic features, and route directions.”[3]

We also adhere to the research principles found in the OCTA Mapping Emigrant Trails Manual (MET Manual) including: “the closer in time the evidence is in relation to the trail under investigation, the more reliable that evidence becomes.” Thus, the prioritization of emigrant diaries and eyewitness accounts of trail location, over all other types of later trail evidence.[4]

 

With all of the above said, there is one major difference between trail research for wagon trains and those on foot: the hiker will follow the path of least resistance and exertion while maintaining a proper bearing towards the destination. And when lost, this premise becomes precedence. Therefore, although we have tried to utilize many of the methodologies and techniques offered in the MET Manual, we remained steadfast to applying common sense and the path of least resistance when encountering vague or conflicting facts.

A key takeaway of our seven-year project is that understanding the land must be equal to appreciating the word. We therefore, endeavored to spend as much time as possible in the field, treading upon the ground, seeing the landmarks, experiencing the conditions and observing the views of the Forlorn Hope. Nature never misleads, the landscape remains true and it remains in the eye of the beholder to imagine the beauty – and horror – that the Forlorn Hope must have experienced. 

These are our research tenets:

1. Always presume you’re wrong.

2. Accept nothing as the whole truth or fact.

3. Be thorough, detailed, then thorough again.

4. Behaviors and routes of those on foot differ greatly from those with wheels or hoofs.

5. Snow is a game changer: no trail to follow, flattens landscape features.

6. Understanding the land must be equal to appreciating the word.

7. Remain steadfast to applying common sense and the path of least resistance when encountering vague or conflicting facts, especially if the party(s) in question were lost.

In summary, through the task of trail discovery, we have become enamored with the souls of the Forlorn Hope; their history, characteristics, behaviors and motivations. Thus, our research expanded well beyond the deep body of work pertaining to the Donner Party to include genealogy, anthropology, archeology, psychology, entomology and culture. This is reflected in the bibliography attached. 

It has been a rewarding and humbling journey for us. 

The beauty:

Upon summiting Donner Pass on day 2 of their journey, Mary Ann Graves commented in an interview years later, 

Well do I remember a remark one of the company made here, that we were about as near heaven as we could get.

And just 6 days later…

The horror: 

On Wednesday, December 23rd, the 8th day of the journey, the party had been without food for three days. It became so desperate that it was proposed they draw lots to see who would be murdered to save the other. This exchange was captured in Stewarts, Ordeal by Hunger,

The pause lengthened, and then Patrick Dolan voiced it—they should draw lots to see who should die to furnish food for the others. Eddy seconded. But Foster objected, and of all motions such a one most surely must require unanimity. And even if they drew lots, how would they accomplish the deed? Was a man to butcher a man like an ox, or cut his throat as if he were a sheep? They had not come to that.”

Field Reasearch

We commenced field research[5] in 2013, after reading Daniel James Brown’s The Indifferent Stars Above[6] published in 2009. The intrigue of mutually combining our sport of ultra-endurance trail running with our passion for American history was irresistible. We quickly began seeking additional novels about the Donner Party, with particular interest in the Forlorn Hope.

When schedules allowed, we would venture into the field to see in person the trails which captivated us from our reading. Soon we realized our passion was becoming a bit of an obsession – and a project was hatched: discover the Forlorn Hope trail, and then completing the entire journey ourselves in the winter, to honor and commemorate this distinctive feat of survival and endurance. We will depart from the Donner encampment on the east end of Donner Lake on December 16th, the 174th anniversary of the Snowshoe Party (Forlorn Hope). 

Photo: Bob Crowley

After years of consuming most of the well-known and respected historical fictional novels and first-person accounts on the topic, we turned to creating a spreadsheet with trail clues in the form of terrain, notable landmarks, places of interest, etc.. This enabled us to compare and contrast various accounts of the Forlorn Hope’s daily movements across the 33-day journey. It became apparent immediately that these resources did not agree on several critical factors including mileage, weather, timing of locations, purported route, key events and terrain. In fact, several years into our project we found we had identified no less than six different theses regarding where the Forlorn Hope went after becoming disoriented and eventually lost. 

We took to thoroughly researching and then headed to the field to investigate the feasibility of each thesis. Over and over we found solace in “seeing is believing” – or not. The majority of the options fell apart once extracted from the page (or satellite imagery or topographic maps) and witnessed first-hand by attempting to retrace the purported route. 

In some cases, the postulated route was easily debunked by simply seeing the impracticable likelihood anyone – in tremendous fitness or distress – would dare venture following these courses. It made absolutely no sense. We became more and more confident in and reliant upon our own experience and common sense: when on foot, one will take the path of least resistance and/or easiest route while maintaining the bearing to the destination. And when lost, this premise becomes precedence.

We narrowed each conflicting set of possible route segments down to two final most likely candidates. Then we’d return to the research digging for additional clues that might sustain either path. Then back to the field for another look, sometimes in different conditions (i.e. snow) since the landscape transforms itself when blanketing with deep snow. Some otherwise obstacles such as rivers and streams become easily passable while other challenges emerge on steep slopes and the speed one can propel oneself. In addition, navigation significantly changes as the white snow flattens the terrain’s contours and blinds the eyes. 

Photo: Bob Crowley

Weather is a major factor since in the case of the Forlorn Hope, dead reckoning was used to navigate having no map or compass. And after the troupe’s co-leader, Charles Stanton resigned, and eventually perished only six days into the journey leaving the group without a knowledgeable navigator, the best the Forlorn Hope could do was try to “head west-northwest” by using the sun and any recognizable landmarks – neither of which were available for many days at a time thanks to a 100-year snow blizzard.

Finally, we utilized our own decades of experience in ultra-distance mountain running to empathize with and understand the impact of physical, mental and emotional fatigue on one’s ability to make logical and cogent decisions on the trail. The Forlorn Hope had depleted their scant daily food rations by the sixth day and were exhausted by the arduous task of slogging through wet, unstable, heavy sticky snow 30 feet deep in places. Emotionally they were a wreck, many having left behind their spouse, children and/or relatives in a desperate attempt to save them. And now they were inexplicably lost in the rugged wilderness while Mother Nature whipped them with her mightiest wrath. 

To illustrate the application of field surveying to validate, or in some cases debunk secondary sources, below are a couple of examples of the latter.

Example #1 – Debunk

In Saving the Donner Party and Forlorn Hope[7] by Richard Kaufman, PhD (2014), in Chapter 9, on pg. 81 Kaufman states:

On December 30th they started down the canyon past the confluence of the East Fork of the American at Euchre Bar, and arriving at the huge cliffs of Giant Gap. Night comes early in the mountain canyons, and they had made only four miles with foot wraps over frost bitten feet, but the slushy ice indicated that they were descending to a lower altitude and warmer temperature. The following day on the 31st they traveled six more miles down the river trail. 

Parsing from the previous paragraph, there are several issues:

  1. On December 30th…”: Numerous primary sources indicate the remaining ten members of the Forlorn Hope did not reach the shore of the North Fork of the American River until January 1, 1847 (not December 30th)
  2. “…they started down the canyon…”: this infers there is a trail along the North Fork of the American River all the way to Giant Gap which is several miles downstream. There is no such trail. We have been up and down that portion of the North Fork of the American River on the east and west sides and can report a) there is only a trail between Humbug Bar and Euchre Bar which was constructed after the Forlorn Hope had passed for mining ,b) downstream from Euchre Bar there is nothing but sheer rock cliffs and rapids, no trail, c)no one could have tried to bushwhack as the terrain is too steep and treacherous, d) besides, numerous primary accounts indicate the party ascended the eastern slopes of the North Fork of the American River, reaching the canyon edge by day’s end; which is located along the Foresthill Divide at today’s Elliot Ranch Road.

“…past the confluence of the East Fork of the American at Euchre Bar…”: There is no “East Fork of the American River”. There is the East Fork of the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River which flows into the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River several miles north and east of Euchre Bar on the North Fork of the American River. Therefore, there is no such place where the EFNFNFAR meets the NFAR. To further compound the error, Kaufman mislabels the North Fork American River as “East Fork American River” in the map within the book on pg. 78 and shown below (which also shows an impossible location for Camp of Death):

    • “…arriving at the huge cliffs of Giant Gap.”: Giant Gap isn’t a cliff but an imposing ridge that emerges from the canyon floor and angles sharply east and up some 2,000’ above. The “Giant Gap” refers to the more prominent feature which is the gulch to the east of the ridge (called Giant Gap Gulch).
    • Night comes early in the mountain canyons…”: at this time of year (January 1st) the days are short everywhere; there’s nothing specific about being in the canyon because the sun is traversing so low in the southern sky, thus already setting by the time the west ridge of the canyon would block the light. On January 1, 1847 the sunset was 5:02pm, 8 minutes longer than the shortest daylight day of the year, December 20th
    • The following day on the 31st they traveled six more miles down the river trail.”: As stated earlier, the date is incorrect, there is no river trail and it is highly unlikely they would have traveled six miles in a day given their physical and mental condition at the time (which Kaufman points out by saying, “…with foot wraps over frost bitten feet…”).

It can be seen from above this is an example of multiple erroneous facts in a single paragraph. Without diligent field surveying in this area, it may have been assumed these facts were all indeed correct, which would have drastically changed the timeline, whereabouts and Forlorn Hope Trail. 

Example #2 – Confirm

In Ordeal by Hunger[8], George R. Stewart (1936, revised 1960), in Chapter XV, on pg. 149 Stewart states:

On that day, the last of the year, they were following down a great ridge. The side-slope, covered with snow, was steep and dangerous, and so working gradually along and crossing side-ravines, they probably without much climbing got to the top of the ridge. On either side a great canyon lay; there was no way but straight ahead southwestward along the narrow crest. Then suddenly they had a view. Instead of seeing only more mountains they looked ahead down a long reach of the gorge to distant ridges standing out darkly, not snow-covered, and then beyond the ridges through the clear, wintry air they saw—at last—a broad plain, stretching off green and flat. No mountain meadow that! It could be nothing but the long-sought valley of the Sacramento. 

Stewart makes a detailed, logical and ultimately convincing case as to why he believed the Forlorn Hope became lost at the west end of Six Mile Valley and began to follow the gently southeastern sloping terrain of the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River. Ultimately this leads them to Sawtooth Ridge beyond Burnett Canyon and it is there they catch their first glimpse of what they’d been hoping to see for 15 days: “the long-sought valley of the Sacramento.” 

We have spent significant man days across hundreds of miles the eastern and western portions of the North Fork of the American River canyon, Six Mile Valley, Burnett Canyon, North Fork of the North Fork American River, Sawtooth Ridge and Blue Canyon. What is key here is the “glimpse” the party had of the lush and green Sacramento Valley, giving them both hope and despair (because it was still so far away). Because of the numerous terrain obstacles and the snaking direction of the North Fork American River, there are very few places to actually catch a glimpse of this remarkable sight. And the most logical place is at a certain spot along Sawtooth Ridge – which would have been accessed via Burnett Canyon.

Stewart knew this because he himself visited the area several times to perform field surveying. 

View of Sacramento Valley from atop Sawtooth Ridge Photo: Bob Crowley


The photo above is that critical view captured during one of our field survey trips.

Maps

Although we accessed as many maps concerning the Donner Party and Overland Trail as possible, the Forlorn Hope would have followed a conventional – if at all – only 30 miles into their nearly 100-mile adventure. Near Carpenter Flats they became disoriented and made a fateful mistake, following the southeasterly slope contour of the Nork Fork of the North Fork of the American River drainage, directly away from the correct bearing across Emigrant Gap and down into Bear Valley.

And once lost, they never resumed on any conventional and previously documented path. Maps were modestly helpful to us in gaining an appreciation for the possible first 30 miles and logic and reasoning pertaining to why pioneer pathfinders may have chosen one route alternative over another. 

Map credit: Bob Crowley and Tim Twietmeyer

 

Again, we were tracing the steps of those on foot, rather than the wheels of those with wagons – or for that matter even with horses.

Notable maps we utilized included Charles Graydon’s Trail of the First Wagons Over the Sierra Nevada[9], 1986 and subsequent revised releases, with USGS topographic maps and photographs and diary accounts to verify the trail location.

T. H. Jefferson, Map of the Emigrant Road – Independence, Missouri to San Francisco, California, 1849[10]

 

A.L. Kroeber, 1925 – Handbook of the Indians of California[11], which provided detailed insight into the likely locations of the several Nisenan (Maidu) settlements located along the Bear River between Colfax and Wheatland, CA – which the Forlorn Hope would have stayed and been provided food and guides to complete their journey.

Dr. Earl Rhoads, Maps of Emigrant Trail, Verdi, Nevada to Summit Valley, Cal.[12] as marked and traced by P.M. Weddell of San Jose 1920-1952.

Daniel M. Rosen, Donner Party Diary[13]

John H. Skinner, Forest Supervisor, USDA, Forest Service, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort Master Plan[14], Tahoe National Forest, 1992

John and Richard Steed, The Donner Party Rescue Site[15], (Johnson’s Ranch) 1991, updated 1994

Russell Towle, North Fork of the American River blog, 2000-2008[16]

Trails West, Inc. Truckee Trail & Nevada City Road Driving Guide, From Humboldt Bar, Nevada to Johnson’s Ranch, California[17]

Peter M. Weddell, Donner Summit Historical Society, Map of Historical Emigrant Trail[18], The Pony Express Magazine, 1849

Primary Sources

The Forlorn Hope trail was a “one-and-done” experience. No one, to our knowledge, has ever tried to discover or retrace the trail they created. Why would they? The Forlorn Hope were dispiritedly lost and staggered and stumbled into some of the most disagreeable and unforgiving topography in Western America. 

Therefore, there is a dearth of primary sources available. The Forlorn Hope consisted of seventeen members, two of which dropped out on the first day, and of the remaining fifteen only seven survived: five women and two men, all with family members back the Truckee (Donner) Lake encampment which provided extraordinary motivation to survive and reach help.

First-Person Sources

William H. Eddy

William H. Eddy, one of the two male survivors kept an abridged diary[19], but provides scant details and clues pertaining to distance, whereabouts and landscape. Patrick Breen maintained a terse daily journal[20] while trapped at the encampment at Truckee Lake, which was modestly helpful in providing weather conditions and a few details leading up to the Forlorn Hope’s departure on December 16th, 1846. It also gave us some context for the existing relationships amongst the Forlorn Hope members.

Survivor Mary Ann Graves[21] provided a modest series of interviews to periodicals, newspapers, published letters and reflections over the years following the Forlorn Hope incident.

Mary Murphy, Virginia Reed, William Murphy, William McCutchen, Franklin Graves, Jr. and several other Donner Party survivors who provided diaries, journals, interviews, letters, reflections or contributions to future books about the history of the Donner Party were also utilized to create a richer portrait of the characteristics of the Forlorn Hope members. 

Once-Removed Sources 

John Sinclair, Alcalde of Northern California, wrote a statement in February, 1847, based on “several conversations” with the Forlorn Hope survivors and “from a few notes handed me by W. H. Eddy”. Sinclair’s statement was first published in Edwin Bryant’s What I Saw in California (1848).[22]

J. Quinn Thornton utilized Eddy’s notes, supplemented by interviews and Breen’s diary, to write Oregon and California in 1848 (1849)[23].

C.F. McGlashan

C.F. McGlashan’s History of the Donner Party (1881)[24] provided solid insight into many of the Donner Party survivors, albeit ascertained with some quid pro quo to ensure history treated the interviewees kindly. It should be noted that McGlashan’s work was published 34 years after the incident, challenging the memory of the many survivors interviewed.

James Read

James Reed[25] included a synopsis of the journal of Wm. H. Eddy in notes he provided to J.H. Merryman for the article Of a Company of Emigrants in the Mountains of California printed in the Illinois Journal on December 9, 1847.

Secondary Sources

We provide a complete bibliography of all the sources we have referenced over the years in Appendix A. Our primary focus has been upon materials pertaining to the Forlorn Hope. This creates a much shorter list of prospective sources given the relative obscurity of the Forlorn Hope compared to the Donner Party; our research indicating a 10-fold number of Google search hits for “Donner Party” over “Forlorn Hope” (see footnote[26]and link below for complete listing). 

However, as our project progressed, we became increasingly intrigued with the intrepid members of the Forlorn Hope party. Our amazement and awe for what the survivors endured and achieved is beyond words. For context, we have collectively participated in over 500 endurance events over the decades, on nearly every continent on some of the most grueling courses; many self-declared “the most difficult race in the world”. But after witnessing first-hand the terrain, conditions and relating to the dreadful physical, mental and emotional trauma which each member endured, we believe the Forlorn Hope to be the greatest endurance trek in history.

We revel in their perseverance, endurance, toughness, passion and grit… focusing on the motivation, ruggedness and resilience of these ‘normal’ people who accomplished extraordinary feats and who embodied the core characteristics and tenets that became the backbone of America.

Our secondary research therefore, covers the landscape from traditional historical and academia, through scientific and medical findings, genealogy, anthropology, archeology, psychology, entomology and culture. This includes Native American Indians, specifically the Nisenan Maidu and Miwoks of which both Luis and Salvador were members.

Notable secondary sources included the aforementioned Daniel James Brown’s, The Indifferent Stars Above (see footnote 6). Daniel was kind enough to correspond with us early in our research to provide additional context and clues about his sources for the novel. 

Typical Nisenan Maidu Settlement

 

Dan Rosen, also aforementioned (see footnote 11) has been a tremendous resource and supporter throughout our journey. Dan has given us his time, insight and encouragement to keep on keeping, even when we felt overwhelmed and discouraged. We extend our highest praise and gratitude to this gentleman and Donner scholar. 

Kristin Johnson and her wonderful The New Light on the Donner Party[27] website and subsequent Donner Blog[28] combined with her book, Unfortunate Emigrants[29] all were constant sources of thorough, factual, well organized and broad topics pertaining to the Donner Party and Forlorn Hope.  

George Stewart[30]has emerged as our most trusted secondary source. His attention to minute details and logical reasoning has earned our gratitude and respect. Although even Mr. Stewart had the rare mistake or inaccuracy, overall, he was solid as the granite atop Donner Pass. 

It should be noted that it is George Stewart’s and Dan Rosen’s slightly altered hypothesized route through the North Fork of the American River canyon we ultimately found most compelling, probable and believable. This portion of the trail is where the Forlorn Hope became lost and were thrust into the most perilous portion of their journey. It is also the most difficult, if nearly impossible portion of the trek to access due to the rugged wilderness and remoteness of the terrain.

George R. Stewart

Unreliable Sources

Historical revisionism has always existed. The Forlorn Hope is no exception. Re-interpreting a historical account, either through opinion or bias or for self-aggrandizement occurs endlessly. We witness this phenomenon every hour of the day in 2020. 

Part of our challenge was to “sort the wheat from chaff” and rely upon resources that exhibited thoroughness, substantiated facts and consistent and sustained logic. Several times we encountered seemingly reliable resources that depreciated in quality in the latter or less exciting chapters. Thus, several times we have elected to pick and choose facts from the most reliable sources for that particular section of the trail, blending that input into our own final determination and assessment.

The trail we have identified is indeed our own unique interpretation and best effort to trace the Forlorn Hope’s footsteps.  

Expected Deliverables

We will publish a fully digital map in .gpx and .kml formats, capable of being ingested by virtually any gps application and overlaid upon dozens of map layers. Indeed, we have utilized several layers for research and display including a 1900 historic topo and a wonderful map provided by Keith Pattison of a period 1890 overlay map.

This map will include waypoints for the location of each night’s campsite, key incidents and notable landmarks. 

We will also generate a separate map which will depict the route we will follow during our planned expedition starting on December 16th from eastern shores of Donner Lake. The route will be similar to the actual proposed Forlorn Hope trail, but because of modern day obstacles, we will have to deviate in places to reach Johnson’s Ranch.

As we move across the land, we will be carrying tribute cards with the photos and biographies of each Forlorn Hope member. In the evening we will take time to discuss and reflect on these extraordinary people.

Last, we will prepare an audio-visual presentation summarizing our project and expedition.

Day By Day Timeline

We have created an interactive 2D and 3D timeline containing key details for each day of the Forlorn Hope 33-day journey. This tool enables users to see data such as weather, hours of daylight, moon phases, etc., start and end location, location of each evening camp, mileage covered, important incidents and in-depth rationale from several primary and reliable secondary sources.

You can access the timeline here:

tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/1165155/The-Forlorn-Hope/

[1] The trail classification scheme was an integral part of OCTA’s Mapping Emigrant Trails Manual (MET Manual) that was introduced in a Preliminary Edition of 1991. The MET Manual also established research principles, methods, and guidelines for locating and verifying emigrant wagon trails. It would go through four more revised editions until a complete expansion in the current Fifth Edition of 2014.

[2] Newell, Olive, Tail of the Elephant: The Emigrant Experience on the Truckee Route of the California Trail, 1844-1852 (California Sesquicentennial Publication) 1st Edition, Nevada County Historical, 1997

[3] OCTA Overland Journal, Summer 2018, “in the Post-Weddell Era of California”, Buck, Donald E., p. 55

[4] OCTA Mapping Emigrant Trails Manual, 5th edition, June, 2014

[5] Author’s Note: Field Research is defined for purposes of this document as first-person observation, witness, trekking, recording (notes, photographs, video, drawings

[6] Brown, Daniel James, The Indifferent Stars Above, The Harrowing Tale of a Donner Party Bride, William Morrow, first Edition, April, 2009

[7] Kaufman, Richard F. PhD, Saving the Donner Party and Forlorn Hope, Archway Publishing, 2014.

[8] Stewart, George R., Ordeal by Hunger, University of Nebraska Press, 1960, first published in 1936; 1960 edition contains a reconciliation of Stewart’s theories with the Miller-Reed diary and other materials not available in 1936. It also contains transcripts of Patrick Breen’s diary and Virginia Reed’s 1847 letter.

[9] Graydon, Charles K., Trail of the First Wagons Over the Sierra Nevada, The Patrice Press, 1986

[10] Jefferson, T.H., Map of the Emigrant Road – Independence, Missouri to San Francisco, California, 1849

[11] Kroeber, A.L., 1925 – Handbook of the Indians of California, Digital Commons @CSUMB, Government Documents and Publications, First Nations Era, digital publication, 2019

[12] Rhoads, Dr. Earl, Maps of Emigrant Trail, Verdi, Nevada to Summit Valley, Cal. as marked and traced by P.M. Weddell of San Jose 1920-1952, addendum to Tahoe National forest (N.F.) Sugar Bowl Ski Resort Master Plan

[13] Rosen, Daniel M., Donner Party Diary

[14] Skinner, John H., Forest Supervisor, USDA, Forest Service, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort Master Plan, Tahoe National Forest, 1992

[15] Steed, Jack and Richard, The Donner Party Rescue Site, published by the authors, 1991; the 1994 edition is updated with additional maps and information.

[16] Towle, Russell, North Fork of the American River blog, 2000-2008.

[17] Trails West, Inc. Truckee Trail & Nevada City Road Driving Guide, From Humboldt Bar, Nevada to Johnson’s Ranch, California, Markers T-1 thru T-70 and NC markers NC-1/T-51 to NC-11/HP-17

[18] Weddell, Peter M., Donner Summit Historical Society, Map of Historical Emigrant Trail, The Pony Express Magazine, 1849

[19] William Eddy’s “diary” were a set of scribbled notes which he shared along with oral recounting with John Sinclair soon after arriving at Johnson’s Ranch on January 17th, 1847.

[20] The diary of Patrick Breen was recorded between November 20, 1846 and March 1, 1847

[21] Mary Ann Graves (1826-1891), from the book Unfortunate Emigrants, Kristin Johnson, University Press of Colorado, Utah State University Press, 1996

[22] Bryant, Edwin, What I Saw in California, Kristin Johnson’s New Light On The Donner Party Site, 1985, originally published by D. Appleton & Company, 1848; includes Sinclair’s statement based on Eddy’s journal, and an early transcription of Breen’s Diary.

[23] Thornton, J. Quinn, Oregon and California in 1848, Harper Brothers, 1849

[24] McGlashan, C.F., History of the Donner Party, 1881, Stanford University Press, 1940. Available online at Project Gutenberg.

[25] Reed, James Frazier, The Journal of James Frazier Reed, July 31-October 4, 1846, Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 1/4, West From Fort Bridger (January, April, July, October, 1951), pp. 186-223, University of Illinois Press

[26] Donner Party Search Hits Comparison, measuring relevancy compared to other social popular topics.

[27] Johnson, Kristin, New Light on the Donner Party 1997-2006.

[28] Johnson, Kristin, Donner Blog 2006-2014.

[29] Johnson, Kristin, ed., Unfortunate Emigrants: Narratives of the Donner Party, Utah State University Press, 1996; includes 1871 articles by Reed and McCutchen, William Graves’ 1877, Virginia Reed’s Century Magazine, Eliza Farnham’s 1856 and Thornton’s chapters related to the Donners. Annotated with reference to Morgan, Stewart and other authorities. Avaliable online.

[30] Stewart, George R., Ordeal by Hunger, University of Nebraska Press, 1960, first published in 1936; 1960 edition contains a reconciliation of Stewart’s theories with the Miller-Reed diary and other materials not available in 1936. It also contains transcripts of Patrick Breen’s diary and Virginia Reed’s 1847 letter and Stewart, George R., The California Trail, University of Nebraska Press, 1962.