The scenes of horror and despair which transpired in the snowy Sierra in the winter of 1846-7, need no exaggeration, no embellishment. From all the works heretofore published, from over one thousand letters received from the survivors, from ample manuscript, and from personal interviews with the most important actors in the tragedy, the facts have been carefully compiled. Neither time, pains, nor expense have been spared in ferreting out the truth. New and fragmentary versions of the sad story have appeared almost every year since the unfortunate occurrence. To forever supplant these distorted and fabulous reports - which have usually been sensational new articles - the survivors have deemed it wise to contribute the truth. The truth is sufficiently terrible.
d, three thousand people dwelt on its shores; the surrounding forests resounded with the music of axes and saws, and the terrific blasts exploded in the lofty, o'ershadowing cliffs, filled the canyons with reverberating thunders, and hurled huge bowlders high in the air over the lake's quivering bosom.
In winter it is almost as popular a pleasure resort as during the summer. The jingling of sleighbells, and the shouts and laughter of skating parties, can be heard almost constantly. The lake forms the grandest skating park on the Pacific Coast.
Yet this same Donner Lake was the scene of one of the most thrilling, heart-rending tragedies ever recorded in California history. Interwoven with the very name of the lake are memories of a tale of destitution, loneliness, and despair, which borders on the incredible. It is a tale that has been repeated in many a miner's cabin, by many a hunter's campfire, and in many a frontiersman's home, and everywhere it has been listened to with bated breath.
I have read much about this tragic incident in the history of the westward expansion of hardy Americans in the 19th cent. This one is the most truthful and simpathetic account that I have come across. Many of the others sensationalise what is akready dramatic enough to suit most tastes; and many revile Keseberg as a twisted and horrible human being. If you want the truth about this harrowing incident in American history, read this one. Excellent.