The Donner party is rescued from the Sierra Nevada mountains after being trapped there for months in a sudden blizzard.
They tried a new route instead of the standard regular route through the mountains. The so-called short-cut was anything but. It added three weeks to their journey, depleting their supplies. Eventually a party of them tried to get through the snow for help. Some of them made it to an Indian village and word reached the nearby fort, who sent out a rescue party.
Of the 89 original members, only 45 survived. Historical lore is filled with stories of cannibalism among the survivors, but recent anthropological studies have shed some doubt on the validity of those stories.