A Walking Tour of Truckee, California
by Doug Gelbert
published by Cruden Bay Books at Smashwords
Copyright 2012 by Cruden Bay Books
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.
It is hard to imagine a town getting off to a less rousing start than Coburn Station. The bad vibes started 17 years before there was even a settlement here, in 1846, when 87 pioneers who had set out in wagon trains from Missouri became trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Donner Party took shelter in three cabins that had been constructed two years earlier up by Truckee Lake. With food running out and winter promising little relief fifteen men and women tried to cross the mountains on handmade snowshoes but became disoriented in the sea of white. Seven members survived to be rescued and finally a third relief attempt brought 48 of the original travelers to California. The tragedy of the Donner Party would have been a tragic footnote among the hundreds of thousands of overland emigrants to Oregon and California but almost immediately stories of cannibalism by the survivors began to leak out. With the fire of sensationalism lit the saga of the unlucky Donner Party would be recounted over and over with varying degrees of luridness in magazines, books and popular culture for decades. Around Truckee landmarks abound with the Donner name - a state park, the mountain pass the settlers never made it through, the main road in town and on and on. Truckee Lake is now Donner Lake.