One nice thing about having company is that sometimes you go places you have never been before. Yesterday we went to the Museum at Donner Lake ~ and walked on down to the lake as well.
I know the story we all know of the Donner party: trying to get to California, caught in early, awful winter snows, several died, reports of cannibalism, all in all a horrible story. The museum is new and well done and very informative. It expanded the story of the Donner's attempt to cross the Sierra into the continuing story of transportation across the Sierra, including the saga of the Chinese workers who were so instrumental in building the transcontinental railroad. It is a very informative museum.
Some things I didn't know:
1) the people traveling with the Donners didn't take the short cut and made it to California just fine.
2) More women than men survived because a) women have more body fat and b) women traveled with families so were always with someone rather than going off on their own like single men ~ and they were determined to stay alive to make sure their children survived.
3) The Washoe who were very helpful to many of the settlers crossing the Sierra, heard rumors of cannibalism among the Donners and kept away when they might have helped.
4) For all the first hand reports of cannibalism (in diaries and reports from rescuers), none of our modern forensic techniques have ever found traces of it.
5) Not all rescuers were humanitarian. One mother paid $500 to have her children taken to safety. The men took the money and shortly abandoned the children to die in the snow.
6) A 12-year-old girl survived and wrote to her friend, "Don't ever take no short cuts!"
To finish with just a little macabre humor: Dean and his first wife ran a T-shirt shop in Tahoe in the 70s and 80s. Their best seller was one with the above picture on it and underneath it read:
"Who's for lunch?"