Trail of Tragedy: The Excavation of the Donner Party Site

Trail of Tragedy: The Excavation of the Donner Party Site


100 thoughts on “Trail of Tragedy: The Excavation of the Donner Party Site

  1. You guys are about 130 years too late; C. F. McGlashan of Truckee already dug everything of interest up, including the rotted remains of the cabins, which he sold fragments of as souvenirs beginning in the late 1880s. 

  2. What puzzles me about the whole Donner party experience is that I have yet to hear about anyone actually fishing in the nearby lake! You don't need to be a rocket scientist to catch a damn fish! This isn't like the Andes mountains where there is absolutely nothing to eat! There was no lake or game nearby there, so cannibalism was a necessity in that case.

  3. roqnvaldr mac thomais :::      I know your post is a year old but here goes:
         First, they just missed getting over the mountain trail by ONE lousy day and the snow came early. I think they were about half way up when events and nature forced them to turn back down the mountain trail. As for hunting food and fishing, I'm pretty sure that digging through at least 5 feet of snow (there was 5 feet of snow at first, then it got much, much deeper with every storm, of course) then, try ice fishing when you are ALREADY tired and cold and hungry. Even with the right tools and clothes, and many tools were left in the stranded wagons which had to be abandoned as they were stuck up on the mountain trail in the snow). One of the Donner Party wrote about blizzard like conditions more than once when it snowed, and mentioned one "tornado like" snow storm. Which makes sense to say that they were stuck in an incredibly cold and windy place. It was mentioned in another video that the 1846/47 winter was the WORST in that particular area in RECORDED HISTORY. The snow eventually got to over 12-feet deep at their camp! As for where to put the blame, I blame that Lansford Hastings guy that lied to them all. What I mean is the route they attempted may have saved them 350 – 400 miles, but, would have cost them more time and work/energy than the normal route, even if the journey had managed to go well for them. Oxen are strong but slow, plus they were pulling heavy wagons, most of the way on very difficult terrain. As far as the Donner-Reed Party went, there was a mix of good and bad characters, just like most all life situations involve. Just a little info I wanted to share. Oh, and please don't judge someone by their skin color. Skin color and character are not always related, and I'm far from perfect myself.

  4. ???

    The video didn't mention the finding of old A1 Sauce* bottles at the dig sites.

    "Everything tastes better with A1".

    *A1 Sauce was invented in 1831, you know. Or you do now, at any rate.

  5. 18:36 It's a woodworking drill bit for boring large holes into wood, they were looking at the wrong end of it lol

  6. My dad knew some of these people whilst studying Anthropology at UNR, and this video is quite high quality for how long ago it was from.

  7. "50 years from now, archaeologists will have a whole lot better array of techniques to use to explore the past." Ten years from then, archaeologists had a whole lot better array. And another array in ten more.
    When will we learn…?

  8. That man at 2.35 is an idiot saying  " it`s part of American Mythology".
    That`s just plain dismissive of the hardships and efforts which resulted in the deaths of many people that out of desperation for survival resulted in cannibalism.

  9. When you are told to research the Donner party for your history homework and you teacher gives you this crapy video for 'help'.

  10. the first thing I think of are all the animals they used and made suffer…. no one thinks about the animals that had to die because of human ignorance. those humans were fools. r.I.p poor animals.

  11. People are totally misinterpreting what he meant by "American mythology." After the ordeal was over, many over exaggerated and salacious accounts were published. These accounts with false details have evolved over time and captured the public interest. That's why it is mythology, because it is heavily associated with falsehoods. Yes, cannibalism did occur but not to the extent as was initially reported

  12. OMG….had to stop at about 3:20 into the video….no real information…. just comments by people digging up a site…..

  13. One thing I'm confused about….. All of the documentaries I come across, state they returned to that site because it had an existing cabin. Yet they also say the snow was 20ft high…… So how did they see an existing cabin hidden under 20 ft of snow. It obviously wasn't on top of the snow.

  14. A wonderful story……really??
    I hardly think any part of the Donner party story was WONDERFUL" and those that think so are a BIG part of what is so wrong with much of society today!!

  15. Alot of Monday morning quarterback comments here about the Donners not being nice people. They were no more or less nice than people today but people are quick to rush to judgement after never having walked a step in their shoes. The rush to pronounce judgement here is like that ill fated choice to take Hastings Cut.

  16. half these people say they became cannibalism ,,HELLO ,,sick of being an English teacher ,i AIN'T doin no more

  17. I only made it 3:40 and then had to quit watching. Very poorly done, folks. It wasn't an adventure, it was a horrific tragedy.

  18. 2:58 "It's too bad they had to start eating each other". rolls eyes Guy makes it sound like they were taking bites out of each other while they were still alive. 🙁

  19. What's so "mind boggling" to these people that they made it as far as they did? They brought wagons with all the comforts of home, tools, spare parts, food, and supplies.

  20. I'm so disappointed in this documentary. They didn't find anything definitively tied to the Donner party. I'm not sure why they even published this film. We learned nothing.

  21. Before you comment on this video you need to watch the documentary that was done by Ric Burns that appeared as an episode of American Experience in 1992 named "The Donner Party". You can find it here on YouTube. I watched it last weekend. Very sad. These people were trying to get to California by what they thought was a quicker route, but actually was about 150 miles longer than the regular route. The were told of the route by a guy named Hastings who had never actually even taken the route himself. These people were lucky to have even made it as far as they did. I believe only 46 of the 87 made it to California alive. It was the worst winter ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains up to that time with 9 blizzards.

  22. Some of these people are really sick.. Donner Diner , wtf. I find their choice of words of some to be apathetic, callas

  23. If Bridger told me to skip this video I woulda listened to him. Now that is a half hour I can never get back.

  24. I can't quit understand what they could even find! The snow was 10 to 20 feet deep and the documentary's say they could only bury the dead in the snow ! so unless someone wen't to the site at the first summer after the tragedy I don't think anything would be found ! and now we see these people digging in the ground just don't make any sense ? and I also agree how could anyone call this a wonderful story ? sick

  25. Did these so-called experts not read the account of the expedition as soon as the ground thawed where people went back to gather everything they could find.down to the nails. Nothing was left. Not even the charcoal.

  26. Simply ask UK teams to look and they will find. I know this an older video but this is the most random rough excavation I have ever seen. They dug up a foot with a spade then started looking?? the Donner party wasn't from 100BC anything left will be an inch no more down. and that was just for starters. Ask UK uni's to take a look they will find for you.

  27. Donners Diner? Kind of sick? Yes it is sick! Not even funny to me to come up with T-shirts….Just can't even understand People coming up with crap like this, People lost their lives on this treacherous trip…

  28. I found a number of Old Indians beads in our backyard in Chicago! Sometimes you don't have to venture far? My brother found an old arrow head in the middle of an empty lot, where that old BUSH stood just 5 houses down on Kedzie Avenue, just north of Waveland avenue, (on the East side of the street)!

    All sandstone about 3/8ths of an inch in diameter with holes drilled through them! Oh, how I would like to know what tribe lived there, just a few blocks west of the Chicago River? If I remember correctly, the find was about 8-10 inches below the surface? Of course, I assume there were other artifacts there, but I couldn't dig-up the whole backyard? People must've thought I was nuts, maybe digging a grave or something?

    I Know that the Potowotomie (spelling,) people lived in the general vicinity, and other tribes too! Oh, how I wish I could have "Brand's" powers and be able to go back in time and visit the area in the early 1700's or so? Just holding those little beads brought me back in time as far as my imagination could take me! Even the tiniest objects bring deep value to the mind!! I love digging to this day, but California and age limit my excursions!!

  29. Dude these people are tripping me out

    Show a little reverence, people. Not like those who went through this had the time of their lives on that journey. These people are acting like this wasn't a tragedy of torture and despair that dragged on for months on end…..

  30. They came soooo close…another 300 miles south and they could have eaten Mexican, 600 miles west and they could have had Chinese!

  31. Man I feel so bad for every single person in this video. It's like a gathering of every person who should never be in front of a camera (and doesn't want to) sharing one camera

    Except for the guy at 2:54. He was made for the camera.

  32. Such an incredible lack of respect for those who died – some people have no empathy whatsoever. I doubt any of the people there finding it 'fun' have even skipped breakfast once in their lives, let alone been driven to madness by lack of food.

  33. It's a graveyard. Who in the hell decided that it would be ok to dig for artifacts? I have visited this site in 2003…you can practically feel the presence of the dead there. The last thing I wanted to do was dig.

  34. Archaeology is expensive. Why waste money on exploring the travels and mishap of a large group of white invaders who were embarked on a journey to steal more land from the indigenous people? Are you people ill?

  35. Sometimes thing happen or occur in history that are better left alone as we know the party made some bad decisions and Mother Nature caused the Donner Party more problems than solutions!
    Just let them Rest In Peace!

  36. Undocumented American Caravans immigrating to Mexican California looking for a better life. Ironic twist is it not.

  37. exciting story? Tragic! Don't think you'd say that if you were THERE! And how could they have burried anyone in frozen winter turf?

  38. My moms boy friend is related omg that gives me goose bumps thinking about it leave a like if you see this and agree

  39. ' i wanna find a bone with a bite in it ' i cry for the future . our children have no competent leaders . humanity will get what it deserves .

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