In the winter of 1846, eighty or so members of the Donner Party, a group of men, women and children, became snowbound and trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They were among the first pioneers seeking a better life in California, their Manifest Destiny.
Hoping to find help, on December 16th seventeen of the emigrants – 10 men (4 were fathers), 5 women (3 were mothers) and 2 children – set out on snowshoes in a desperate attempt to cross the mountains and reach a settlement near Sacramento 100 miles away. After enduring punishing physical, mental and emotional hardship, only seven survived. The rest met a horrible fate. Together, this brave group became known as the Forlorn Hope.
The Forlorn Hope is a 33-day saga that has captivated historians and adventurers for nearly two centuries. However, little is known about their precise route or their physical, mental and emotional state throughout the ordeal.
To the best of our ability, our goal is to provide a historically accurate map of the Forlorn Hope journey and explore the multi-dimensional persona of each member; their history, character and motivations.
We will consider the human survival instinct and reflect upon the fateful 48 hours in which the Forlorn Hope crossed the thin veil of civility.