In January of 1952, the worst blizzard seen in 50 years slammed the Tahoe area, closing the pass over Donner Summit (called Interstate 40, before the construction of Interstate 80) for 30 days straight. The storm brought 13 feet of snow to the region in a week, creating massive walls of snow and burying a luxury passenger train traveling from Chicago to San Francisco.
The group of 222 passengers aboard the train were marooned (using 1950’s words) atop Donner Summit for over 30 hours before a rescue team was able to locate them and a huge operation to save the passengers commenced. The passengers ended up on board the train for nearly 3 days before being fully rescued, with the cold temperatures creating nearly deadly conditions. Luckily, no serious injuries were reported from the incident.
Today, Donner Summit remains one of the most treacherous mountain passes around the world. We can only imagine dealing with it nearly 70 years ago. Watch the video above for the full news reel.