Following The Donner Party

(image via Wikipedia) Map of the route taken by the Donner Party, showing Hastings Cutoff—which added 150 miles (240 km) to their travels—shown in Orange.

Virginia’s Path

All We Left Behind: Virginia Reed and the Donner Party chronicles Virginia’s harrowing journey over a 12-month period in 1846-1847, beginning with her departure from her hometown of Springfield, Illinois and ending with her arrival at Sutter’s Fort in California.

I decided to duplicate Virginia’s trek 163 years later, by rental car instead of by ox-drawn wagon. Following the Donner Party along the Oregon and California trails, as well as the Hastings Cutoff, helped me understand the parallel emotional journey that transformed Virginia from an obedient daughter into an independent young woman–determined to make her own decisions, whatever the consequences.

To follow along and get a glimpse of the journey yourself, visit to read and experience the events that inspired the book.

Nancy A. HermanFollowing the Donner Party

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