Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Fresh Look at the Donner Party

Listen to this and more in-depth storytelling by subscribing to The California Report Magazine podcast.

As we officially head into winter – and hopefully snowy weather in the Sierra Nevada – we bring you the tale of the Donner Party; the version you may not have heard before. You might be familiar with the ghoulish CliffsNotes version of this story: about a band of people traveling over the Sierra in covered wagons, trapped in the snow and forced to turn to cannibalism to survive. But behind the Donner Party legend, there’s another story: one about prejudice, injustice and murder. KQED reporter Carly Severn tells us what happened when those 81 people were stuck in the mountains back in 1846, and how this disaster came to represent everything California wanted to forget.

This story was first featured on KQED’s podcast Bay Curious as a two-part series.

Read Part One of the story here.

Read Part Two here.

Copyright 2020 KQED