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James and Margaret Reed, members of the Donner Party
James and Margaret Reed,
members of the Donner Party

The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train. Delayed by a series of mishaps, they were snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountain range from November 1846 to February 1847. Some of the emigrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating the bodies of those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness. The journey west usually took between four and six months, but the Donner Party had been slowed by following a new route called the Hastings Cutoff across Utah's Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert. They lost many cattle and wagons in the rugged terrain, and divisions formed within the group. Their food supplies ran low after they became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall high in the mountains. In mid-December some of the group set out on foot and were able to obtain help. Of the 87 members of the party, 48 survived to reach California. Historians have described the episode as one of the most spectacular tragedies in California history. (Full article...)

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Aretha Franklin
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Joko Widodo in 2014
Joko Widodo

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May 23: Lag BaOmer (Judaism, 2019)

New York Public Library in 1908
New York Public Library in 1908

William Bradford (d. 1752) · Franz Xaver von Baader (d. 1841) · Ruth Fernández (b. 1919)

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Today's featured picture

Arena Glacier

Arena Glacier is a glacier located on Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost region of the Antarctic Peninsula. The glacier is 3 miles (5 km) long and flows northeast from Mount Taylor into Hope Bay, 2 miles (3 km) southwest of Sheppard Point. The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey mapped the area in 1948 and 1955. They also chose the name Arena Glacier, due to the flat ice floor in the upper half, which was surrounded by the steep slopes of the Twin Peaks, Mount Taylor and Blade Ridge, resembling an arena.

This photograph, taken in 2016, is a close-up view, approaching the glacial outlet. A Zodiac is shown in front of the glacier, providing a perspective of size.

See also: a view at a distance, showing the glacier flowing into Hope Bay

Photograph credit: Andrew Shiva

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