[Editor’s note: Bill Holmes is a member of the OCTA and Wheatland Historical Society and is very knowledgeable of Camp Far West and Johnson’s Ranch, where the Forlorn Hope survivors ended their fateful journey. Bill has a vision for preserving this iconic California historical site. We are grateful for Bill and the rest of the Wheatland team for providing our rare access to Johnson’s Ranch and for their unwavering support]

To the Forlorn Hope 2020 Expedition,

The families of those that perished and those that survived the original Forlorn Hope group of the Donner Party would, I am sure, be honored that all of you involved in this project have spent so much time and energy understanding their plight. You have diligently researched the subject for seven years, not only reading all the material available, but hiking into the areas where they went to match up the descriptions given by the survivors with the physical world. That shows persistence and tenacity, qualities that anyone trying to cover 90 miles on snow in some of the roughest country in the world would need to survive.

It’s one thing to read material and talk to those involved in a tragic incident, but it quite another to go out and touch the earth where it happened. To feel the steepness of the terrain, the cold of being out in the snow without shelter or food. This is the only way to validate witness statements and gain a true understanding of the situation.

All of you involved in this History Trail Trekking (HTT) adventure have my deepest respect and admiration.

Good luck and I will see you at the Johnson Ranch, where all those survivors of the Donner Party ended up in 1847.

Bill Holmes