The 1800s saw thousands pick up roots and head west for a better life. Some sought fertile soil, hungered for gold, or craved a life free of persecution. In the fall of 1846 the renowned and ill-fated Donner-Reed Party was on its way to the fertile ground of California when it got bogged down while crossing Tooele County’s Great Salt Lake Desert.

To avoid perishing, and to save invaluable, thirst-craved oxen, the party began to toss personal belongings and leave wagons behind to lighten loads. Many of those items have been recovered and are on display inside Grantsville’s Donner-Reed Museum. The museum, built from an old pioneer schoolhouse, not only contains Donner-Reed artifacts, but also relics from local pioneers, Native Americans and others who called Tooele Valley home. Furthermore, relics from the Mormon Battalion that went to California and returned add to the mix with wagons, a cabin, old jail, and blacksmith shop from the early white settlers. Memorabilia from the life of former LDS apostle J. Reuben Clark, who grew up in Grantsville, is also housed there. For free guided tours, call (435) 884-3767 or Grantsville City Hall at (435) 884-3411. For additional information visit www.donner-reed-museum.org

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