The Overland Emigrant Trail is the trail followed by the Donner Party when they arrived in California in the winter of 1846-1847 and by many of the arriving gold miners in 1848-1849. In California, the trail mostly followed what is now Interstate 80. In the Donner Lake area, it followed what is now Donner Pass Road. In the Yuba-Sutter area, the trail passed through Johnson's Ranch in Wheatland before continuing to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento.

Several members of the Donner Party settled in the Yuba-Sutter area and went on to become locally significant historical figures here. These include Mary Murphy Covillaud (for whom Marysville was named) and three of her siblings, Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster, Harriet Frances Murphy Pike Nye, and William Green Murphy.