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Donner Party: American Experience Previous Broadcasts

Episode #503

KQED 9: Mon, Feb 1, 2010 -- 10:00 PM

Of all the 19th-century pioneer stories, none exerts so powerful a hold on the American imagination as the tale of the Donner Party in the high Sierra Nevadas in the winter of 1846. That June, along with thousands of others, George and Jacob Donner and James Frazier Reed led their families west out of Springfield, Illinois, and headed for the "Promised Land" in California, 2000 miles away. Theirs was a prosperous caravan that would swell to more than 87 men, women and children. They packed huge wagons (one was two stories high), took food, hired servants and even sewed money between the covers of a quilt. When family leaders made the fateful decision to take an untried short cut to beat the coming winter, only half of them would come out alive. What began as a trek to the Western paradise became a terrifying tale of misery, death, madness and cannibalism. But there was also extraordinary bravery, as survivors made their way to California, after enduring the worst winter ever recorded in the high Sierras. Through family journals, newspaper accounts and interviews with historians and descendants of the party, the film recreates the Donner Party's now legendary journey.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED Life: Wed, Feb 3, 2010 -- 3:00 AM
  • KQED Life: Tue, Feb 2, 2010 -- 9:00 PM
  • KQED 9: Tue, Feb 2, 2010 -- 4:00 AM
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    • early Thurs 12/08: planned KQED DT9s Over the Air outages

      (DT9.1 through 9.3) KQED will be performing maintenance at Sutro Tower in the overnight hours early Thursday 12/08. We are expecting a few power interruptions to take place and KQED will need to be off air for these. The outages are expected to be brief.

    • Wed 11/30: planned momentary outages of DT54 over the air signal

      (this is a continuation of the work originally announced for 11/28, which was not completed on Tuesday.) At some point during the morning of Wednesday Nov. 30th, the KQEH transmitter will switch from its main antenna to the auxillary one, to allow for the safety of workers doing maintenance for another TV station on the […]

    • Tues 11/29: DT54 Over the Air Signal restored

      Repairs have been completed on today’s transmitter issue, and the signals for DT54.1 through 54.5 have been restored.

To view previous issues and how they were resolved, go to our TV Technical Issues page.

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