Have you ever wondered how the westward-emigrating pioneers of the 1840s and 50s managed to get their covered wagons over the cliffs and precipices they encountered as they passed through mountain ranges? They emptied their wagons and lowered them, one by one, with ropes. Still hard to visualize, isn’t it—perhaps because our brains are too attuned to the freeway-everywhere-automotive-comfort-world we live in. Next time you travel Interstate 80, look down into the forested chasms around Donner Lake. How did they get over those formidable heights and drops? Sheer fortitude—their ropes and wheel blocks and winches were just tools.