Excavation of the Donner-Reed Wagons (Book published February


Book Details

Author  Bruce Hawkins
Publisher  University of Utah Press
Publication Date   February 4, 1999
ISBN  0874806054
Pages  178

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In 1847, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party of emigrants to California chose an alternate route out of Salt Lake City and became bogged down in the mud and playa of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Losing at least four wagons, numerous oxen, and a lot of valuable time, the delay contributed to their late attempt to cross the Sierra Nevada and the famous efforts by party members to endure a winter in the mountains.

EXCAVATION OF THE DONNER-REED WAGONS presents the results of work undertaken in 1986 to salvage the remnants of the abandoned wagons in the face of rising water from the Great Salt Lake. The results were significantly different from expectations. Not only was a wide variety of artifacts recovered, but evidence of subsequent exploring parties, such as that led by Stansbury around the Great Salt Lake in 1849-50, was also identified.

This book provides historical background on overland emigration to California and the Hastings Cutoff, the Stansbury Expedition, previous work done at the wagon site, and a description of the 1986 operation. It is well illustrated with maps and site plans, and contains many drawings and photographs of such items as tools, weapon fragments, china, and the wagons themselves. Now back in print, this is a must-read for trail buffs and historical archaeologists alike.

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