The Weather Channel has been known for years for providing up-to-the-minute information about weather from all over the world.

On Nov. 27, they switched gears and reported on one of the most infamous episodes in American history: The Donner Party.

Dead of Winter: The Donner Party utilized a combination of first person narration, CGI, reenactments, expert interviews, and archival materials.

In the spring of 1846, a party led by George Donner and James F. Reed set off from Independence, Mo. They attempted to get to California using a newly discovered route, one that had not been travelled by wagon before. A trip that usually took four to six months was heavily delayed by snow and bad conditions. Stuck in the Sierra Nevada for the winter, the remaining members of the party were forced to turn to eating human flesh to survive. When they survived the winter and made it to California, the resulting story became one of the most bizarre and horrifying tales in American history.


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This isn’t the first time the Donner party has been the subject of a documentary; in 1992, PBS aired “The Donner Party” as part of their American Experience program.

The documentary is produced by Think Factory Media, who has developed a wide variety of documentaries for the History Channel, including Hatfields and McCoys: White Lightning.

It’s not the first time the Weather Channel has done original documentaries; among their other productions are The Real Death Valley and America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation’s Wildfire Crisis.

Dead of Winter: The Donner Party will also be re-aired on Nov. 28 and 29.

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