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Donner Pass

Around California-Old Highway 40, Donner Pass 7,056 feet, Nevada County, California. Photo by Robert Campbell. Reportedly there are wagon wheel grooves on the granite below the bridge. "The pass gets its name from the ill-fated Donner Party who overwintered there in 1846" ( "To reach Califonia from the east, pioneers had to get their wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1844 the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party follwed the Truckee River into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and became the first overland settlers to use the pass." The Donner Party found the route "blocked by now and was forced to spend the winter on the east side of the mountains. Of the 81 settlers, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorting to cannibalism to survive" (

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