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Old Sacramento

THE HISTORY

The area where the city of Sacramento stands, for at least 10,000 years, had accommodated numerous tribes of Native Population before the first visit of John Sutter, the renowned founder of the city. Among the major tribes were Maidu and Nisenan, which held the lands under his dominance and built small dwellings from willow pieces. The heavenly life they lead amid the picturesque landscapes finished abruptly when the first white colonists started arriving in masses to the newly-found land.

Stutter stepped on the shore there in August in 1839, day 13. In a year, he set up the famous Sutter’s Fort, an enormous mudbrick construction with its impressively high and thick walls surrounding it.

Stutter was a representative of Mexico and named his newly discovered and established colony New Helvetia. The name seems to have a Swiss origin. New Helvetia became the post of political power and a center of justice in the area. With the increasing numbers of new pioneers who started to inhabit the lands, the settlement expanded and developed in many aspects. The natives inhabiting the lands were under a severe threat. Along with the production for sale, the traders and other colonists brought diseases deadly for the locals due to the lack of immunity and susceptibility to any viral infections. The disastrous death tolls entailed by the newcomers’ arrival started the times of Virgin-Soil Epidemics in the area.

Samuel Brannan opened the first shop in the colony. It sat near the Sacramento River, a perfect location for a store to have, near the waterfront. That was the time when one more settlement appeared, Sacramento.

Soon after the arrival, Stutter became a famous owner of 10 acres of gardens and numerous thousands of cattle heads. The fort turned into a regular stop-over for travelers and immigrants, whose numbers were rapidly growing due to the beginning of the Gold Rush times. James Marshal, an architect, hired by Sutter, built another crucial construction in the area. It was a sawmill, which brought the expansion of Stutter’s estate on a principally new level. The next year, the architect found the first gold pieces there, which lead to the gold-mining frenzy for many years that followed, known as Gold Rush of California. Sacramento developed considerably and became the host for traders and gold miners.

First arriving to assist his father in control over his holdings, John Sutter, together with Samuel Brannon, established the CIty of Sacramento, which entailed father and son’s alienation. Soon after, John traveled back to Mexico, but the new city developed and expanded to become the first incorporated town in the State of California, which took place in 1849.

The people in Sutter’s employ betrayed him and decided to seek gold supplies on their own. Squatters and criminals destroyed all the plantations and killed all the cattle.

Captured in the fever of Gold Rush, John Sutter filed numerous claims he failed to win to the US after they took control of former Mexico’s territories. New Helvetia, however promising a land at the beginning, was empty and destroyed by criminal elements. That was the eve of Sutter’s bankruptcy. Until the last days of his life, Sutter was trying to receive any compensation from the state authorities, but failed to get those, died on his way to Washington in 1880, regretful and disappointed.

The first catastrophic flood started in Sacramento in 1850. In two-years time, the high tides destroyed the city almost entirely. The area inhabitants then decided to build the city further away from the waterfront, higher above the river, but to no avail. Sacramento fought bravely with numerous floods and then became the capital of California in 1854. After another devastating flood in 1862, the citizens rose the city’s level of streets by hauling enormous amounts of dirt in their preventive measures taking.

With the decrease of the Rush, commerce and agricultural industries started to flourish in Sacramento. The technological modernization in the 20th century moved the city’s commercial area further eastward, which led Old Sacramento to become a slum district.

The middle of the last century saw redevelopment efforts and renovation in the area, which comprises around 28 acres of land today and keeps intact the historical constructions in its western part. Becoming a National Landmark, Sacramento became a mecca for countless tourists seeking the Gold Rush spirit and fantastic nature in the area. There is also a State Historical Park, enticing its visitors by unique displays of its collections.

Nowadays, nearly 5 million tourists come annually to Sacramento, official statistic shows. They do shopping in a Public Market, stroll down the shady alleys in hot summers, breathe cultural life in several excellent museums, enjoy the waterfront view, and try delicious treats in the numerous eateries and top-class restaurants.

GOLD RUSH DAYS

When you first come to the land of rivers and forests and enjoy the view of the city, you can virtually travel back in time to those days when crowds of gold-miners hastily sought gold here, the indigenous people were still numerous, and the story of Sacramento as we know it today was just about to begin.

The Sacramento river served as the main route for traders and suppliers. Numerous terrible floods and fires tried to sweep the city of the Earth’s surface, but it stood its ground boldly. To save the city, its inhabitants and authorities had to take considerable urgent measures, which they did to the utmost extent.

Due to its heroic and struggle-driven history, the city has developed a unique spirit of adventures and ambition, the heritage of the first settlers in the area, who faced dramatic challenges and bravely devoted their lives to the city’s development and progress.

Let us consider the names of several pioneers who paved the way for all the other settlers and contributed significantly to Sacramento’s city.

Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker are the railway building heroes in the area. People of the state commonly call these four persons, the ‘Big Four.’ They had a significant impact on the development of railroad building in the west. There are buildings in Old Sacramento, which house museums and galleries devoted to the heritage of the prominent residents who shaped life in the area and beyond. One of the structures has been a bank for more than 150 years. Among other notable buildings, there is a Supreme Court that has undergone reconstruction, and Pony Express.

By the way, the memorial set up in Old Sacramento to honor the memory of the riders for the Pony Express, who survived a nearly deadly journey from St. Louis to Sacramento.

The California State Railroad Museum, housed in Old Sacramento, displays one of the fullest collection of actual old trains, carriages, and other items belonging to the railroad. The number of exhibits is the biggest across North America. Once at the museum, tourists travel back in time to the days when coal-fueled locomotives plowed the lands around Sacramento, giving out black clouds of dusty smoke. You can take a tour with professional guides who readily share their knowledge of the state’s history and the city concerning the development of railway routes. The excursions cover the entire railroad construction period, from the first spikes and tracks to riding in modern cars. The tours will also appeal to those interested in the whole country’s history and agricultural industry development.

Of course, you will see a lot about the Gold Rush times in California once you are touring Sacramento. You will hear a fascinating story of the struggling first settlers, fighting tough for the precious gold in an overwhelming frenzy that has virtually become a region’s trademark.

Here are some suggestions to the first-timers in Sacramento who want to get the most off the stay:

  • As to any information you need to know about the state and its attractions, one can consult the official web page.
  • Old Town is all hustle and bustle in the afternoon, nearly all week round. At times, however, the place might appear to be almost uninhabited and empty, especially at night.
  • As to the parking lots in the area, they are abundant. However, when a major sports event is pending, free parking lots diminish accordingly. On such occasions, public transport is more preferable.
  • To reach the old town, one has to get to the eastern bank of the Sacramento. From there, there is a path passing by the main attractions like the Capitol or Crocker Art Museum. This is indeed a trail with a view.
  • Avoid splurging on the parking. You can leave your car in a parking lot for two hours only.

THINGS TO DO IN SACRAMENTO

VIRTUAL TOURS

Come to visit Sacramento History Museum to get acquainted with the fascinating story of the foundation, struggle, and development of the city, get to discover the patterns of lifestyle the first settlers in the area led, familiarize yourself with horrifying stories about the wild west, which were full of bloodshed and conflicts. Learn the heroic stories of gold miners and simple people fighting with natural disasters and epidemics.

Make yourself aware of the tremendous history of California’s capital, being virtually anywhere on Earth. Use technology to embark on a tour around the most famous places and most exceptional natural sights of the area.

TOUR UNDERGROUND IN SPANISH

This year, the tours around the underground of Old Sacramento are available nine months a year, from April to Date December.

On every second Sunday, the Spanish-speaking tourists can book a guided tour by The History Museum, starting at 3 p.m. in 101 Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

NIGHT UNDERGROUND TOURS

The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation presents Tours running from the start of April until the end of October.

Spring back in time to join the night customs of the past and share it with pioneers of Gold Rush.

Take a glimpse of the dark and shady side of the nightlife in Old Sacramento.

THE AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM

One of the focal points of your visit to Old Sacramento is visiting the State Automobile Museum. Enjoy looking at its exhibits, among which you will find retro cars and even old-time horse-drawn carriages. The tours are equally appealing to men, women, and children and will make your day in Sacramento, filling it with some samples of history and some items of outdated technology. Book an excursion on their web page.

RIVER CITY QUEEN

There is a beautiful opportunity to float the Sacramento River in a comfortable boat for the fans of boat trips and their families. Organize celebrations and various parties during a cruise along the river. RElish into the natural beauty of the area and astonish your guests. The menu options on the tours are diverse, as well as the pricing policy.

CALIFORNIA STATE RAILROAD MUSEUM

Take a ride on a historic train or throw some fresh coals into the firebox of an old locomotive, look into the windows of old fashioned first-class carriages and take hundreds of perfect shots in and around the museum. Surprise your kids and get them to learn the history of railroad building in California. Lookup for any information about the provided tours and options for various categories of visitors at their official website.

GOLD RUSH TOURS

The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation invites visitors on tours devoted to the Gold Fever in Sacramento. Feel the frenzy of the time and imagine yourself a gold miner and an adventurer, fight the calamities of the past centuries like giant fires and devastating floods, book a guided tour with a specialist in the history of the city to discover more insightful facts about California capital!

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