Alcove Springs - Atlas Obscura

Alcove Springs

Elm Creek, Kansas

One of the stops along the fateful journey of the Donner Party.  


The Donner Party had no idea what was in store when they stopped at the oasis of Alcove Springs. 

Near the Independence Crossing on the Oregon Trail, a spring-fed waterfall spitting off the “alcove” of a jutting rock formation was the last stop with shade and water before the long trail to California. A member of the Donner party even gave the spring its name, carving it into the top of the alcove in 1846, the very year of the infamous incident that occurred in the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Flooding on the Blue River left the party stuck near Maryville, Kansas for five days. They explored the area, discovering the falls. This delay contributed to the party getting stranded in the mountains.  Of the 81 in the party, only 45 survived.

The falls splash into the perfect swimming hole. It’s all part of a 300-acre park full of trails and history. The ruts of the wagons still remain. Near the springs, there is the grave of Sarah Keyes. She was the first member of the Donner party to die. She died of old age and consumption at 70 years old. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of the Donner Party and experience their last bit of paradise. 

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October 31, 2022

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