4 hours ago
THE DONNER PARTY - This was a group of American pioneers & settlers who migrated to California in a wagon train from the Midwest in 1846. Perhaps one of the most unfortunate group of settlers to ever make the journey, they encountered a steady flow of unfortunate and catastrophic mishaps along their way.
The journey took around 4-6 months on average, but the Donner party, left late (despite strong advice not to) and also trialled a new route, again, against all advice. The extremely rugged terrain meant that they lost a significant amount of cattle and wagons early into their journey, which meant food had to be rationed.
The party had reached the Sierra Nevada mountains by mid November but became trapped by heavy snowfall while high in the mountains. They also came across two friendly native Americans who offered to guide them in their journey.
The winter of 1846 turned out to be the heaviest snowfall on record (over 6-feet deep in some parts) and their food supplies had almost ran out completely. Some of the group tried to get help but many would die in the search. Most of the group would resort to cannibalism out of desperation and as one of the group would die of starvation or sickness, they would quickly be devoured by the others.
The two native Americans who were helping the party were also shot in the head and eaten by the group.
The father of a young girl offered to go in search of help, and left his daughter in the care of another family (a husband, wife & daughter), when the father returned two months later with a rescue party he was horrified to find that his daughter had been raped and eaten by the father in who’s care he left his daughter.
Of the 89 members of the party who set off, only 45 would survive. Forever stigmatised with what they had done.
The location of some of the most savage fighting, survivalism and cannibalism is now a Walt Disney owned ski resort.
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