The Donner Party. The Mistakes And Mishaps

2316 words - 9 pages

Was the Donner Party a huge tragedy, or a fatal mistake just waiting to happen to anyone?When George Donner, and his brother Jake took the advice of a man they did not know, they felt confident in his word. He told them of a trail that was supposedly faster than the popular California Trail. They took his advice and set off. The party left with an abundant amount of food and supplies. The party looked no different from any other except for one wagon that stood out from the others. It was three stories tall and had an attic to store clothes and food. The party left from Little Sandy, Illinois, on July 20,1846. The group had Americans, Germans and a few other foreigners.The group was to start on the California Trail and then go to the left at the Little Sandy Creek. Everyone felt confident with the decision to go on the unnamed, unheard-of trail. The Donner brothers thought they would arrive at the Sierra mountain range by at least September, and at most late October. Most of the families brought only food, clothes, and important items. However the ones those brought extra items would soon find that they were punished severely by the rough trails and stricken with oxen. The going was smooth for a long time. The only problems were a few broken wheels, and axles. The oxen were showing great strength and power, and seemed to be pulling harder as the days went by. The food was staying fresh, and nobody was ever Hungry. Was this really the trail that Lanford Hastings promised to the Donners'? Everyone felt great and was happy to see that they were ahead of schedule.However, the party realized their great luck would not last them the whole trip. Already there were signs of harder traveling. Every day the dreaded Colorado Rockies seemed to be getting bigger. The group had yet to climb a real mountain, just little hills they were not educated in crossing mountains. They were not sure if their oxen were strong enough to pull the heavier wagons up the steep hillside. The first test of the oxen' ability to pull up a hill came in the foothills of the Rockies. The team was faced with a long climb followed by a steep decent which could easily tip a wagon. The oxen appeared to be pulling well up the hill, but the decent would be a completely different challenge. The only means of stopping the wagons on downhill was to lock the axles so they would not be able to spin. The first decent took a long time, because it was the first time they had done it. It went very smooth except for a couple of tipped wagons.The first hill was thought to be hard, but compared to the mountains that had yet to be faced; this hill was nothing. After the hill they camped at a place with grass and a spring.1 The oxen were refreshed with fresh grass, and the people enjoyed the scenery, and drank the cold refreshing water. However, they could not hide the problem of crossing the gigantic Rockies.The Donner party followed Hastings trail until it turned up into the Rockies. The group now felt...

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