The Horrifying History of the Donner Party

Greed, hubris, and plain bad luck led to one of the most gruesome events in American history.

Photo by Nathan Anderson via Unsplash

Tempted by tales of a “land of milk and honey,” where the sun always shone and where no sickness could exist, some 500 wagons full of would-be settlers headed west from Independence, Missouri, on May 12, 1846. Wagon trains usually left at a precise time of year — late enough in the spring for there…