EDWIN BRYANT recorded in his diary in August 1846 after reaching Donner Springs:
... "Men and mules on their first arrival, as we learned, had madly rushed into the stream and drank together of its muddy waters, -made muddy by their own disturbance of its shallow channel and sluggish current."
"Delay of gratification frequently gives a temporary relief to the cravings of hunger. The same remark is applicable to thirst. Some hours previously I had felt the pangs of thirst with an acuteness almost amounting to an agony. Now, when I had reached the spot where I could gratify my desires in this respect, they were greatly diminished. My first care was to unsaddle my mule and lead it to the stream, and my next to take a survey of the position of our encampment. I then procured a cup of muddy water, and drank it off with a good relish. ... The moon shone brilliantly, and [Richard T.] Jacob, Buchanan, [James] McClary, and myself, concluded we would trace the small stream of water until we could find the fountain spring. After considerable search among the reeds, willow, and luxuriant grass, we discovered a spring. Buchanan was so eager to obtain a draught of cold, pure water, that in dipping his cup for this purpose, the yielding weeds under him gave way, and he sank into the basin, from which he was drawn out after a good "ducking," by one of those present. The next morning this basin was sounded to the depth of thirty-five feet, and no bottom found, We named this spring "Buchanan's well."
HEINRICH LIENHARD wrote in his diary upon reaching the springs:
"The spring [Donner Spring] was fine one about 4 or 6 feet across, and from 4 to 5 feet deep, the water fresh and good, and entirely free from any saIine or mineral taint. The Kollog [Kellogg] brothers had a fine, large, black hound which they had brought aIong with them to this point, and which probably was extremely thirsty by the time it arrived here; it had jumped into the spring, immersing itself and drinking, but when it came out upon the grass again, it had suddenly fallen down, and shortly afterward it died."
HOWARD STANSBURY, Captain for the Corps of Topographical Engineers in the United States Army was sent to Utah on a scientific expedition to survey the Great Salt Lake and the surrounding area. During this survey in 1849 he travelled around the north end of the lake and west across the Newfoundland Island, past the northern tip of crater island, and on to some springs three miles north of Donner Springs. Thence to Donner Springs where they then began their journey eastward along the Hastings cutoff to Salt Lake City. From Stansbury's An Expedition to the Valley of Great Salt Lake of Utah, pp. 112-114. STANSBURY:
"Friday, November 2, ... Following the western edge of the mud-plain at the foot of the range for three miles, [to Donner Springs] we came to the southern point of the mountain, where there had been an encampment of emigrants, who had taken this route from salt Lake City in 1848. There were here several large springs of excellent water, and the encampment had apparently been quite a large one. The usual destruction of property had taken place. Clothes, books, cases of medicine, wagon wheels, tools, &c., lay strewn about, abandoned by their owners, who had laboriously brought them two thousand miles only to throw them away." Stansbury then mentions Fremont and Hastings and the Donner party.
When finished at the springs, drive back to the gate and gravel road. Turn right for a short distance and turn left on a road heading toward Pilot Peak. Go about 150 feet, park then look to your right and you will see rocks which we believe are some Cherokee graves.
CAPTAIN TAYLOR'S letter: "we traveled day and night till we got through the desert." In the margin, Brown wrote: 'A great many Dead horses, Cattle & dogs which died for want of water. These springs are called Relief Springs." Here three more of the company breathed their last." The deceased were noted by BROWN.