Presentation on Donner Party Survivor Hosted by California Trail Center

The Elko California Trail Center will host a dramatic Chautauqua presentation about Donner Party survivor Margaret Breen at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 9, 2010. Dr. Doris Dwyer, history professor at Elko’s Western Nevada Community College, will portray Margaret. The presentation is sponsored by Nevada Humanities, and admission is free.

Margaret, her husband and their seven children were all members of the ill-fated Donner Party. An Irish immigrant and devout Catholic, Margaret worked tenaciously to ensure the survival of her family during the winter of entrapment in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Due largely to her efforts, the Breens were one of only two families in the party to survive without the loss of life. Margaret spent the remainder of her life in San Juan Bautista, California, surrounded by her family near the Catholic mission that she loved.

The Elko California Trail Center completed its first summer of operations on September 5. Even though the grand opening is not scheduled until spring 2012, the Center opened this past summer so the public could see the new exhibits and get a preview of things to come. The season was a successful one. Kicking off the season over Memorial Day weekend was California Trail Days, which brought in nearly 1,000 people. Over the course of the summer more than 3,600 people from 45 different states and 11 foreign countries visited the Center.

By spring 2011, the Center will complete phase 2 of exhibit installation, doubling the number of permanent exhibits. New temporary exhibits will also be on display. Accessible hiking trails have been completed and interpretive panels will be installed along the paths. A new five-piece bronze sculpture will be installed on the plaza, and the retail area will be expanded.

The Center will not be open on a regular basis during the winter months, but it will be open to the public for History along the Humboldt presentations, special events, and prearranged tours for school and community groups. Center staff will publicize other events and programs throughout the fall and winter months, such as the popular family contra-dances, and History along the Humboldt presentations.

Operated by the Bureau of Land Management Elko District Office, the Elko California Trail Center is located just off Interstate 80, eight miles west of Elko at Hunter Exit 292. A meeting room is also available. For more information about these programs or for questions about the Elko California Trail Center, please contact Suzanne Miller at 775-738-1849.