By now the ill-fated story of the Donner Party during the winter of 1846 – 1847 has been chronicled many times. But behind the story is the 20 year-long effort starting in 1898 by the Native Sons of the Golden West to construct this massive monument. The Pioneer Monument, sometimes known as Donner Monument, located at Donner Memorial State Historic Park in Truckee was the culmination of the Native Sons rise in the annuls of telling the story of California.
The Pioneer Monument in Truckee is an opportunity for the Native Sons to revisit its roots from the early 20th century Your donations would be greatly appreciated
This project was financed and constructed under the auspices of the Grand Parlor of the Native Sons and led by C. W. Chapman a Dentist from Hydraulic Parlor #56 in Nevada City. There was much discussion until the final plan was settled upon in a clay mockup by noted sculptor John McQuarrie. You can read the whole story in the booklet entitled, The Origin of a Statue by Doris Foley and the Nevada County Historical Society from 1982. This monument represents the pioneers who came to California and the trials and tribulations they all endured to reach the Golden State. It has stood the test of time for over 100 years, but now needs some help.
Around 2012 Native Sons Grand President David Allen of Auburn Parlor #59 encountered the Executive Director, Heidi Doyle, of the Sierra State Parks Foundation (SSPF) from Tahoe City, at Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento. The Sierra State Parks Foundation is a co-operating association under the umbrella of California State Parks and is charged with raising funds for the state parks in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Truckee. The Historical Preservation Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West (HPF) is charged with the education, preservation, recognition, and commemoration of California history. This was a match that was destined to be.
In 2017 the HPF entered into an agreement with the SSPF to each raise $450,000 to be matched by California State Parks to restore the monument, which also includes the pedestal and add an outdoor education pavilion. The state of California has already committed most of their share of the funding and the HPF and SSPF are continuing to gather funds.
This monument originally constructed by the Native Sons represents the largest of many projects that were constructed during that era of monument building in California. At that time, the Native Sons had already completed the Marshall Monument in Coloma and the Bear Flag Monument in Sonoma. The Native Sons were on their way of building a track record of saving some of California’s historic sites and were generally recognized as a leader in California history.
The Pioneer Monument in Truckee is an opportunity for the Native Sons to revisit its roots from the early 20th century and help to commemorate that era in our state and tell it’s story. Your donations would be greatly appreciated