On April 14, 1846, George Donner and his brother Jacob packed their families into covered wagons and left Springfield, Illinois en route to a new life in California. George would later take the lead of the so-called “Donner Party,” a group of westbound emigrants who became trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during one of the most brutal winters on record. The pioneers were forced to spend five months hunkered down in makeshift tents and cabins with almost no food or supplies. By the time they were finally rescued in early 1847, nearly half of them had perished. Many of the rest—including the children—were forced to cannibalize the bodies of the dead to survive. Explore 10 key facts about one of the most gruesome episodes from the era of Westward expansion.