New Donner Park museum on right path |

New Donner Park museum on right path

Plans for a new museum at Donner Memorial State Park continue to move forward.

Construction of the High Sierra Crossing Museum, which will replace the existing museum in the state park, could begin as soon as May 15 next year. An archeological survey of the proposed site, near the present museum and parking area, was conducted last October to determine if any artifacts of cultural significance might alter the museum’s plans.

“Our consultants who are working on the (archeological) report at this point say the design doesn’t have to change; it’s a benign site,” said project manager Robin Ettinger of California State Parks. “But we have to wait for the final report.”

Ettinger said the report should be completed by the first of June and the final plan completed by November or December, after which the project would go to bid for construction.

Jeff Brooke, an associate archeologist with California State Parks, said in a previous interview that the archeological survey looked for both prehistoric artifacts, such as items from Washoe settlements, as well as historic artifacts that could have come from old cabins, settlers or even old ranger stations.

Some initial findings included stone tools such as arrowheads made from basalt, he said.

Shortly after the survey was completed, Brooke said other artifacts dating from the early 1900s were also found.

Ettinger said current plans call for a roughly 9,000-square-foot building, and an additional traffic lane at the park entrance.

“We will add some lanes to make the entrance a little easier; sometimes it would

back up with people going into the campground, so this will give direct access to the museum,” Ettinger said.

He added that initial design sketches and information should be available some time this summer for public review.

District Landscape Architect Don Michaely said the design and location went through multiple iterations.

“We’ve gone through a lot of wrangling for the best design,” Michaely said. “But I think we’ve come to something everybody likes.”

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