Learn about the Donner Party at Sutter’s Fort

By From page B14 | November 15, 2013

As part of an ongoing focus to provide high-energy, interactive and educational activities, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is proud to present a special “Hands on History: The Donners and Other Emigrant Wagon Parties” event on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Early in California’s history, wagon travel across the Sierra Nevada was a dangerous proposition and more than 80 emigrants became trapped in the Sierra snows during the winter of 1846-47. Today the group is known as the Donner Party, but they were actually many different families and individuals.

Sutter’s Fort was their destination and became their only hope of survival. Rescue parties of volunteers were assembled at the fort, mules and packs were gathered and a variety of food supplies were packed for the rescue. Few people are aware that a second relief party carried 100 pounds of cocoa and 400 pounds of sugar among other more staple items.

The Sutter’s Fort Collection is the largest repository of original source Donner Party material in existence that includes photographs and documents that support tales of horror, heroism, greed, bravery, romance, murder, sacrifice, survival, avarice and the importance of family.

During this very special “Hands on History” event, fort visitors will have the unique opportunity to view replicas of rarely seen original documents and hear the mysterious and haunting stories that have fallen through the cracks.

Visitors will also be able to pack a wagon, write in their journals with a quill pen, make a corn husk or rag doll and create their own pioneer souvenir item to take home.

Sutter’s Fort, 2701 L St. in midtown Sacramento, is open daily, 10 5 p.m. The cost is $7 for adults 18 and older, $5 for youth 6-17 and free for children 5 and under.

For more information about this event or the park in general call 916-445-4422 or visit


Sutter's Fort

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