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Woman Walks 2000 Mile Donner Route
I received an email recently from the nephew of a woman who walked the Donner route in 1978. The woman was Barbara Maat, who last week also emailed me and kindly sent me a copy of her book. Her email to me:
I finally got to your website. It is simply amazing. Having renewed an old interest in archaeology here in Colorado, I appreciate the hunt for facts in a historical context. I've also learned of the fallibility of human memory and even of documents, so I salute the efforts of your committee. Congratulations.
Yes, hard to believe, but Barbara walked 2000 miles to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. Her book can be found on Amazon:
Below are some of the comments we've received from supporters during our fight to preserve this road between 2005 and 2012:
July 6, 2010:
Thanks Rick! Did the hike and loved every minute of it. Parked at Sugar Bowl, hiked down to Old Highway Drive and then back to the summit. Saw a couple of old cars that looked like they had flown off the old highway and crashed right where they were. So much history in one place, I am glad you are watching out for it. Plan on taking my son on the same hike when he gets a little bigger.
Love the site by the way,
very informative. God bless you guys for trying to keep trails open and
history alive for the rest of us who only visit the area.
All the best,
San Rafael, CA
November 19, 2009:
I have lived in Truckee for the last 25 years and have always been curious about the area of the old Emigrant trail. Finally, yesterday with a friend that had been part way, we climbed the trail to where it crosses the creek and has the missing bridge, then we crossed over to old 40. What an incredible experience!
I am keenly interested in progress on
this battle, and would like to be contacted when meetings take place, or
with any help I might provide to reopen this historic treasure to the
public. Thanks for your very informative site.
June 18, 2009:
Thanks for the great information on this access issue. It is nice to see
someone that is willing to stand up for the publics rights, I appreciate
While not completely surprised of the behavior of county supervisors, I am surprised at the behavior mentioned of some of the non-profits. What were they thinking?!?!
I notice that the organization occasionally does a hike of the route. If you plan another one, let me know as I would like to join you.
May 8, 2009:
Glad to hear that you've been successful thus far in keeping the old highway open.
April 20, 2009:
I did not know that an organization like this exists, and I am relieved to know that other active citizens care about the Donner Trail.
New York City
March 3, 2009:
I greatly respect and appreciate the work you've done. Amazing effort,
truly amazing, given what you are up against. Would love to come help
with trail work / hikes / etc.
December 12, 2008:
Your organization and members are doing Great Work in resisting this
wrong and sneaky deal. Best of Luck to you and your cause to preserve
this historic trail and all that it represents. Keep Up The Great
Victor & Kim
December 1, 2008:
It was a blessing to find your site. I had looked in many hiking books yet they did not reveal this road that you fight so hard to protect. It is sad to hear that this guy is so anti-people. Most hikers and history buffs are so cautious and respectful of the land they would not give any reason for him to try to prevent passage. Thanks so much for your work.
August 7, 2007
Thanks, Rick, for working to keep the old wagon road open!
Dutch Flat, CA
Sadly, Russell died in an auto accident on I-80 near Davis one year to the day after this email, August 7, 2008.
July 23, 2007:
At one of our DLPOA board meetings (I think it was in 9/05 or May or June/06), Leigh Fitzpatrick, (of Truckee Trails) spoke & urged the board to get behind the trail alternative. While Fitzpatrick was still there, I strenuously objected, saying that I did not think an historical, public trail should be abandoned to suit (a surrounding landowner) and the Truckee Trails people...
SF Bay Area
March 29, 2007:
It warmed my heart to read that Rick and his friends are successfully challenging the bully and his cohort, Ted Owens, to open this trail for all of us. I'm glad that your group wasn't intimidated by these selfish individuals, who've taken the 'law' into their own hands. Just when I've lost respect for what's happening in government, along comes a grassroots hero! You can count on me for a donation.
With humble gratitude,
Donner Lake, CA
March 19, 2007:
I am SO proud of you all standing up to these people. It sounds like the old south to me. So many will benefit from your efforts. I don't understand why this man bought this property with such an attitude.
If I can do anything to help the cause, I'd make the trip up there. Good Luck and keep it up.
March 9, 2007:
Add me to your list of interested parties. My family used that trail before (the adjacent landowner) got involved. I would support legal action to restore the public right to the trail.
October 3, 2006:
Thank you so much for your work in preserving this beautiful trail. Nevada County's historical heritage and natural beauty have long been under siege and I'm heartened that you're standing up to the developers -- and winning!
New Light on the Donner Party
September 22, 2006:
Thanks to the efforts of the Historic Donner Trail Committee a portion of the California Trail from Donner Lake to the Summit won't be abandoned as a public road. This section of the Trail became the main route with the construction of the Dutch Flat and Donner Lake Wagon Road in 1862, and later the Lincoln Highway. It decayed after the construction of US Highway 40 and became a "Jeep" trail until a landowner blocked it. A group of citizens has been fighting to preserve the old trail, and has stopped an attempt by Nevada County to abandon the road.
Dan Rosen, author of www.donnerpartydiary.com
Below are comments from supporters who sent comments with their signed petitions in late 2005 and early 2006 (over 230 petitions received out of 500 we sent out to Donner Lake property owners--Thanks to everyone who sent a petition back then).
"Thanks for your efforts."
Michael and Susan
" ...hiked the trail many times with family. Last time we encountered (the adjacent landowner). All of us were over 55."
"Let me know when to go to the (Nevada) County Supervisors meetings and rattle a few cages."
"If it would be useful, I can provide an encounter with (the adjacent landowner) on the Historic Trail in 1988. He was abusive and threatening to me and my wife."
"I have been going to Donner Lake since 'before birth' and hiked this trail and creek since the 1950s. What this bully is doing is criminal!!!"
"Keep up the good work."
"This historic trail is important to remind us of our pioneer ancestors and their epic struggle crossing the Sierras."
"Dear Committee: We have had property at Donner for over 30 years and hiked on the trail with our children. We appreciate your efforts to regain our legal access."
"If the trail is abandoned, the houses are coming. History must be the winner, not one individual wanting to change it."
Frank Mullen, senior reporter
"Thank you for educating me on this issue. I look forward to hearing from you as this group of activists is formed and activities are planned."
"Enough of our history has been destroyed. The past must be preserved as accurately as possible."
Reno Fearful Crossing
Included in the 230 petition signers were 2 directors and 4 advisors to the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
Here is the petition that we asked supporters to sign: