Donner Party Tragedy III

Lead: Buried under tons of snow in the Winter of 1847 the Donner Party, a group crossing the mountains to California, waited in their cabins for rescue or death.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: Following bad advice the wagon train lost three vital weeks in their race with time. At the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range they were caught by the winter in early November and became snowbound. A few escaped on December 16th and after a month of great suffering brought word to the settlements in the Sacramento Valley. Two weeks later a rescue party led by Aquilla Glover began its trip into the mountains to find the Donner Party and bring them out. It took them two weeks of hard travel to get through to the stranded emigrants near the summit of Truckee Pass near what is now Lake Tahoe. In the meantime, death continued to stalk the camp by the Lake. The children were especially susceptible to the cold and with each death depression gripped the shrinking number. 

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Donner Party Tragedy II

Lead: Following the wrong trail in the summer of 1846, the Donner Party, 89 strong, got far behind in their race with time. This proved disastrous.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Donner Party following bad advice got bogged in the Wahsatch Mountains of Utah and lost three vital weeks in their race with time. They needed to be over the Sierra Nevada and into California before the snow caught them but the delay put them at Truckee Pass near what is now Lake Tahoe at the end of October. At the base of the Pass was Truckee Lake, just short of 6,000 feet above sea level. The pass another 1200 feet above the lake was reached by a grueling climb. Snow was already on the ground when the main body of emigrants reached the lake on November 1st. After a day of rest they discarded all unnecessary gear and began the climb. The oxen were thin and weak. Many of the children had to walk in snow up to their waists. Just as they were preparing to make the final effort a blinding storm made the assault impossible. During the night a foot of new snow had fallen. The drifts around them were ten feet deep. They turned back. All day long they struggled back down the slippery slope. It was November 4, 1846. The trap was shut tight.

 

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Donner Party Tragedy I

Lead: Of the suffering experienced by Americans making their way west across the mountains to California, none is more tragic than that of the Donner Party.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the summer of 1846 the lure of good land and moderate climate was drawing many Americans from their homes in the East and Midwest to risk the privation and hard travel necessary to cross the deserts and mountains to a new home on the Pacific Coast. Some went north along the much travelled trail to Oregon. Other parties went due west over the Continental Divide, skirted the Great Salt Lake, crossed the Nevada desert basin and braving the passes of the Sierra Nevada range made their way into the fertile Sacramento River valley. The key to this trip was time. If a group negotiated the wilderness and was ready to address the Sierra crossing by mid-September then they would probably make the hard journey without difficulty, but if by late October the climb over the mountains was delayed, if snow blocked the way ahead, if the wagons were light of provision and the oxen were lean and tired then the story might be a tragic one. Such was fate of the 89 members of the Donner Party. Forty-two never made it to California.

 

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John Wesley Powell and the Grand Canyon – Part II

Lead: On May 29, 1869 a small party, nine men in four rowboats led by a man with one arm, set out on what was called an impossible task – passage of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

                Content: By the time thirty-five year old college professor and Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell and his crew embarked on their historic journey, Powell had a well-established reputation as a scientist and surveyor of the Rocky Mountain region. He had led one of the four major survey teams the federal government hired to chart the interior west. During an early expedition Powell set his goal –  map the uncharted river system from the Green River in Wyoming to the end of the Colorado, something no man had done. 

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John Wesley Powell and the Grand Canyon – Part I

                Lead: In 1869 college professor John Wesley Powell set out on a journey never completed by a white man – the treacherous passage through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. 

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

                Content: Powell was born in 1834 in Mount Morris, New York, to a family of English immigrants, farmers and Methodist missionaries. Avid abolitionists, the family often took unpopular stands in towns where they lived on what was then known as the western frontier – Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Kansas. John Lewis Powell was a bright and curious boy, mostly self-educated who had a keen interest in natural history, and through reading, collecting specimens, and field experiences, learned the basics of geology, archeology and biology. At age seventeen, young Powell began a teaching career while attending classes at several colleges in the mid-west. In 1859 Powell became the Secretary of the Illinois Natural History Society and the following year the superintendent of schools in Hennepin, Illinois. He led various river and mountain expeditions to gather scientific data.

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Leadership: The Pyrrhic Leadership of Sitting Bull

Lead: For a brilliant moment on that afternoon late June 1876, it seemed that he was right. Custer was dead and all his men with him, but like King Pyrrhus against the Romans before him, Sitting Bull found his victory of too great a cost.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: Sitting Bull once said to General Miles, “….God Almighty made me an Indian, but he didn’t make me an agency Indian, and I don’t intend to be one,”

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