In September 1846, and running weeks behind schedule, the Donner-Reed Party chose to bypass the California Trail several hundred miles to the north and attempt a new route across the Great Salt Lake Desert.  Miscalculations of time and distance resulted in the party running out of water only partially across the desert.  As the situation worsened, many members abandoned wagons, supplies and animals to make it across alive only to face even more difficulty weeks later in the Sierra Mountains.  Many of the party’s belonging were retrieved years ago and place in Grantsville’s Donner-Reed Museum.  Recently the California Trail Association installed markers through the county to mark the trail taken by the Donner-Reed Party and other that followed on the Hastings Trail.  The first marker is location in Lake Point and the rest proceed west through Stansbury Park, Burmester, Timpie, etc.  The adjacent map shows the route the Donner-Reed Party took.  Also included on this page are artifacts from the Donner-Reed Museum.

Map of Donner Crossing

Donner-Reed Party route across Tooele County. Access restricted on portions of Great Salt Lake Desert in vicinity of bombing and test range.

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