What Was the Donner Party Famous For?


Quick Answer

The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers famous for engaging in cannibalism. Survivors of the team resorted to the savage acts by consuming the bodies of those who had succumbed to the harsh conditions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter of 1846-47.

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Full Answer

The party embarked on the 2,500-mile westward trip from Illinois to California on April 16, 1846. Led by brothers George and Jacob Donner, the nine-wagon group was seeking the fortunes of newly-found riches of California.

A perceived "short-cut" to the Golden State backfired, with a series of setbacks further prolonging the journey, resulting in a late entry through the mountains. The group encountered heavy snowfall and frozen conditions in late October and many group members perished. As few as half of the original 90-member group survived and reached the destination the following year.

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