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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