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Word Count: 564
Although The Donner Party of 1846-1847 is the most famous of the immigrant parties to cross the Sierra Nevada along the Truckee Route they were not the first Where the Stephens Party succeeded in crossing in a very severe winter in 1844-1845 the Donner Party became stranded and met only tragedy two years later The Stephens Party was led by experienced mountain men and included a physician among its members the Donner Party was composed of farmers and a high proportion of women elderly and children The Donner brothers Jacob and George along with James Reed all from Illinois organized the party They set out on their journey in April of 1846 and in a reasonable amount of time had reached South Pass a landmark on the trail west where they inadvertently made their first fatal error A trail guide or promoter named Lansford Hastings had produced a leaflet claiming he had found a shortcut to California The Donners decided to attempt to follow that cutoff through Utah into Nevada They lost much precious time and suffered through severe desert conditions The physical condition of both humans and animals began to deteriorate as did their emotional stability A stabbing occurred and as a result James Reed was banished from the party The party was badly demoralized before they ever reached the Sierra Due to the short cut the party took they arrived at the Sierra late out of provisions and faced with an early snow They did not have the strength to ascend through the snow to the summit and most of the party returned to winter over at what was known as Truckee Lake The Donner brothers and their family were in even worse condition They had many problems with the wagons and George Donner injured himself trying to make the repairs The family was forced to endure the winter in tents at Alder Creek Apparently none of the family or other members traveling
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