Donner - Reed Tragedy by Ted Davidson

   
 

Canyon of the South Fork of the Humboldt River (September 26, 1846)
The party neared the western end of the 300 foot deep canyon of the South Fork which cuts through the barren mountains.



 

 

 


At the western end of the canyon, looking NW at the Humboldt River bottom, with the Independence Mountains beyond.




The End of Hastings Cutoff (September 26, 1846)

The East Fork of the Humboldt River joins its namesake. The disastrous Hasting's Cutoff finally ended as the party rejoined the California-Oregon Trail. The main trail followed the meandering river to the southwest. [Picture taken eight miles SW of Elko, Nevada]





Humboldt Sink (October 14, 1846)

Behind Reed, the party struggled along the trail [parallel and between Interstate 80 and the vast sink] heading to the large marsh on the near side of the flat, barren, mile-long natural dike which formed the southwestern end of the sink. (center of photo, below the gap near the end of the Humboldt Range).

   

Truckee Lake (October 14, 1846)
Reed and his teamster first saw the lake from its eastern end. Further west is the snow-free crest of the Sierra Nevada where it dips for the pass (center horizon).


Note: Jim Reed and his teamster crossed the Sierra before snow flew. However, from this point west, the trail was covered by snow by the time the other members of the party left Truckee Meadows with the wagons.

 

Trail to [Donner] Pass (October 14, 1846)
Far ahead of the party which was nearing the dike at the Humboldt Sink, Reed and his teamster (near starvation and pulling Reed's half-dead horse) moved along the north shore of Truckee Lake [now called Donner Lake] and followed the far-from-straight trail from the west end of the lake to the pass [now called Donner Pass]. Truckee Lake is a half mile east, beyond the left edge of photo. Large slightly-tilting forested bowl (center); craggy peak (center top) [now called Donner Peak]; the pass (arrow right). The first of those with the wagons did not see Truckee Lake or the pass until November 1st or after; at that time a foot or more of snow had fallen at the lake, with much more at the pass.

 

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