Excavation in Donner Memorial Park postponed | SierraSun.com

Excavation in Donner Memorial Park postponed

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

An archaeological investigation scheduled before construction of the High Sierra Crossings Museum in Donner Memorial State Park has been postponed.

The dig, originally planned for this month, has been delayed in order to complete required preliminary planning, according Hayden Sohm, superintendent for the Sierra district of California State Parks, and will likely resume in August.

Excavations of the sort are not meant to turn up treasures, Sohm said, but rather to ensure that there will not be adverse impacts to cultural resources when construction of the museum begins. Construction will start when archaeological investigations have ceased, Sohm said.

“A lot of people have interpreted the dig as a research effort related to the Donner Party,” Sohm said. “It’s not meant to be a classic archaeologic dig to find further evidence of the Donner Party, but who knows what will be turned up.”

Known Donner Party cabin sites are located outside of the construction area, but according to a release by California Department of Parks and Recreation, the intent of the excavations is to make sure that builders are avoiding adverse impacts to prehistoric or historic archaeological deposits.

Washoe Indians dating back 9,000 years also left their mark on Donner Lake, and it is not unimaginable that centuries-old artifacts from the tribe could be discovered.

In the event that such artifacts are recovered, new buildings could be designed to avoid impacts on the cultural resources.

The $6 million, 10,000-square-foot museum will feature state-of-the-art exhibits and displays that will recount the tribulations of the Donner Party and other aspects of local history.