Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

September 9, 2013
So long, but see you at Sacbee's History Section

Today Sac History Happenings ceases operation as a branded blog.

I want to thank Amanda Graham of the Sacramento Public Library and Michael Dolgushkin of the California State Library for their postings these past 2-1/2 years. We hope that in a small way this blog has contributed to the very vibrant historical scene in Sacramento.

Amanda and I will continue to write up announcements of local history events and resources going forward. These will be published online in's History Section. There you'll find Bee staff-written stories of interest to this community, as well as links to the latest wire articles on the subject posted elsewhere on In addition, the page has AP's daily "Today in History" feature and links to essential local websites.

Those used to keeping abreast of the blog through an RSS feed will be able to monitor the History Section in the same way. Just aim your favorite RSS reader to this link.

Twitter fans can still follow us at Sacramento History (@Sac_History_Hap) which links to all the History Section content, plus interesting items around the Web.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Keep sending those press releases and announcements. I can be reached at

September 6, 2013
Sample local history and local beer at Untapped Sacramento

Annie Johnson.JPGWhere can you learn about the history of Sacramento's beer industry and sample some of the city's best local beers made today?

Head to the Center Sacramento History next Thursday for a special, behind-the-scenes peek at rare brewery artifacts in the Vault. In addition to the tour, visitors can taste brews from Ruhstaller, Track 7, Two Rivers Cider, New Helvetia and American River Brewing Company.

Proxy Moon will provide live music. And Sacramento's own Annie Johnson, American Homebrewers Association 2013 Homebrewer of the Year, will make a special appearance.

What: Untapped Sacramento History
Where: Center for Sacramento History, 551 Sequoia Pacific Boulevard, Sacramento
When: Sept. 12, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Cost: $25, includes 2 pints of your favorite brews. Additional pints may be purchased for $5 and includes a complimentary commemorative glass. Purchase advance tickets.
For more info: 916-247-1234 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Annie Johnson, national home brewer of the year, puts grains of wheat and barley in a grinder at Brew Ferment Distill in Oak Park. 2013 Sacramento Bee photograph by Lezlie Sterling

September 5, 2013
Home tour celebrates the Mansion Flats neighborhood

MAJ CHANTERELLE.JPGSince 1975 the Sacramento Old City Association has offered docent tours of historic buildings in the Midtown and Downtown areas. This year's event honors the Mansion Flats Neighborhood with an inside look at five homes ranging from the stately Old Governor's Mansion to the infamous Dorothy Puente rooming house (now a private residence).

Accompanying the Home Tour is a street fair featuring local building contractors and artisans, artists, crafters, and advocacy and history groups.

What: 38th Annual SOCA Home Tour and Street Fair
Where: northwest corner of 16th and H streets (parking lot of the Clarion Mansion Inn)
When: Sept. 15, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Fair is free. Tour tickets are $30 day of event; $25 advance purchase. Buy tickets online.
For more info: (916) 202-4815 or Sacramento Old City Association

PHOTO CREDIT: The Sterling Hotel at 1300 H St., one of the homes featured in this year's SOCA tour. 2009 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael Allen Jones

September 4, 2013
Celebrate California's birthday at the State Capitol

Thumbnail image for admission_ grand_celebration.jpgThis Monday marks the 163rd anniversary of the the admission of California into the United States. Celebrate this milestone at the State Capitol. Visitors will be treated with live cake and ice cream provided by California State Parks and the State Capitol Museum. And while your there, check out the Capitol Museum itself.

What: Admission Day Celebration
Where: California State Capitol (north steps)
When: Sept. 9, 11 to 2 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0333 or website

IMAGE CREDIT: Grand Admission Celebration, California Department of Parks and Recreation

September 3, 2013
Check out your treasures at Folsom's Antique Evaluation Day

FL EA MAGNIFYING.JPGWant to know more about an antique or collectible you own? Here's a chance to get advice from 13 knowledgeable appraisers with expertise in a variety of specialties: quilts, furniture, jewelry, paintings, coins, baskets, weapons and much more. It's all happening this Saturday in Folsom's historic district.

Antique Evaluation Day is sponsored by the Folsom History Museum with support by Folsom Lake Bank, Folsom Rotary Annes and Andy, The Folsom Chamber of Commerce, The Rotary Club of Folsom, The Rotary Club of Folsom Lake, The Rotary Club of Historic Folsom and Karen's Bakery Café. Proceeds from the event go to support Museum programs.

What: 16th Annual Antique Evaluation Day
Where: Sutter Street, Folsom
When: Sept. 7
Cost: Evaluations -- $8 per item or $35 for five items. Parking is free.
For more info: 916-985-2707 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Lee Kavaljian evaluates a painting on cotton cloth with a magnifying glass at the Antique Evaluation Day held in front of the Folsom History Museum. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Florence Low

September 2, 2013
Cemetery tour explores the Capitol's stories and secrets

SACRAMENTO CAPITOL 1870.JPGThe movers, shakers, artisans and common folks who made the the state's Capitol Building a reality are the subject of the next Historic City Cemetery tour.

Come hear the stories, scandals and secrets behind the construction of Sacramento's signature structure. As usual, the tour will be led by some of the city's most knowledgeable history docents.

What: Capitol Connections
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: Sept. 7, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations always appreciated to benefit cemetery preservation
For more info: (916) 448-0811 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: California State Capitol, completed in 1870.

August 30, 2013
Preserving Your History at Central Library

Preservation.jpgPreservation will be the theme of this October's Sacramento Archives Crawl, and Sacramento Public Library is gearing up for the big event with a special lobby display entitled Preserving Your History. Visitors to Central Library during the month of September will be greeted by displays containing helpful tips, tools and examples of preserving historical materials.The exhibit will show the "before and after" of applying proper preservation techniques and cover a variety of formats, including photographic prints, slides, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks. Handouts on useful preservation resources will be available, and visitors can even stop by the Sacramento Room on the 2nd floor during open hours for expert advice from the archivist.

What: Preserving Your History exhibit
Where: Central Library, 828 I Street, downtown Sacramento
When: September 3-27, 2013, during Central Library open hours
Cost: Free
For more info: or (916) 264-2920

August 28, 2013
Underground Sacramento tours continue into the fall

UNDER OLD TOWN WALK.JPGTo those who've missed Old Sacramento's popular underground tours this summer: fear not. There are more opportunities to see these important historic sites in September and October.

The hour-long, docent-led excursions celebrate the 19th century street-raising effort that protected the old city from floods and produced the excavated foundations and enclosed pathways we have today.

This fall Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is also offering more "adults-only" evening tours of the underground city. Led by knowledgeable docents in period attire, these special 90-minute excursions explore "some of the dark secrets and racy tales lurking in Sacramento's past."

Guests should be ready to walk in spaces with uneven surfaces and low ceilings. The tours are popular, so advanced ticket purchases are recommended.

What: Old Sacramento Underground Tours - Fall Schedule!
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: September -- weekdays at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. & 2 p.m; weekends departing every half-hour 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. October -- weekday tour dates and times may vary; weekends departing every half-hour 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check website for updated tour times
Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for HOSF members; $10 for children
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

What: Underground "Adults Only" Evening Tours - Fall Schedule!
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: September -- Thursday & Friday evenings departing at 6 p.m. October - Thursday evenings departing at 6 p.m.
Cost: $20 (only guests 21 and older will be admitted)     
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Tour guide Janessa Gonsalves,walks beneath the the BF Hastings Building with some guests as they tour the original ground level of Old Sacramento. 2006. Sacramento Bee photograph by Andy Alfaro

August 27, 2013
Sacramento's postwar renaissance explored in new publication

Sac Renaissance.jpgProminent local historian and preservationist William Burg has penned a new history of the cultural and political renaissance that followed Sacramento's postwar redevelopment.

In the early 1960s families, businesses and churches of the West End and Japantown were displaced when sections of the old downtown area--considered to be a slum--were bulldozed for commercial development. Those upended reestablished themselves in other neighborhoods that soon nurtured a resurgence in art, music and political activism.

With oral histories and previously unpublished photos, Burg explores the people and groups who characterized the time, such as the beatniks, Oak Park's Black Panthers, Southside Park's ethnic enclaves, Lavender Heights' gay activist George Raya and the Royal Chicano Air Force.

William Burg is author of four books and numerous articles, including Sacramento's K Street: Where our City was Born published last year.

Sacramento Renaissance: Art, Music and Activism in California's Capital City
By William Burg
The History Press
Paperback, 192 pages, 75+ images

August 26, 2013
Gold Rush Days showcase Old Sacramento

Gold Rush Days Fire Brigade.jpgGold Rush Days, Old Sacramento's premier historical fest, thunders into town Labor Day weekend for four days of vintage fun.

There will be music, skits, re-enactments, demonstrations, arts and crafts, including Old West plays and family-friendly melodramas, historical re-enactments, horse-drawn carriages, cowboys and ladies on horseback, wagon rides, gold panning, Artisan Alley, hands-on children's craft activities and watermelon eating contests. Local restaurants will make available old-fashioned food and beverages for purchase.

And special this year: baseball-related skits featuring players in period uniforms who'll invite visitors to help celebrate Sacramento's early infatuation with the sport.

What: Gold Rush Days 2013
Where: Old Sacramento
When: Aug 30 to Sept. 2. Friday from 9 to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 7 p.m.; Monday from 11 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-808-7777 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Fire Brigade to the rescue at Gold Rush Days. Courtesy Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau

August 21, 2013
New book examines 'unfree' labor in California's history

Freedoms Frontier.jpgAlthough California entered the union as a free state and its original constitution prohibited "slavery or involuntary servitude," in practice the treatment of certain workers was "unfree" to varying extent. Some African American, Native American, Latino, Chinese and child workers found themselves in various states of bound or semi-bound labor conditions.

The story of their struggles and the political and legal battle for freedom fro these diverse groups is told in a new book just issued by the University of North Carolina Press. In Freedom's Frontier, author Stacey L. Smith reconstructs this history through the period of the U.S. Civil War, Emancipation and Reconstruction.

Smith, an Assistant Professor at Oregon State, conducted her research using previously unexamined court and legislative documents.

Freedom's Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation, and Reconstruction
By Stacey L. Smith
University of North Carolina Press
hardcover, 344 pages

August 14, 2013
Next tour explores early tools and jobs at Sutter's Fort

SF HOH Tools and Wood.jpgIn building up a vibrant commercial hub at his fort in Sacramento, John Sutter attracted skilled people of various types: rappers, sawyers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, rope makers, wagon wrights, carpenters, coopers, weavers, bakers, distillers, cooks and clerks." These individuals brought new techniques, technology and jobs to the community. Their contributions will be celebrated in the next "Hands on History" program at historic Sutter's Fort

Visitors next Saturday will be treated to demonstrations of and hands on experience with early California tools. In addition they'll see weapon displays and gun and cannon firings.

What: Hands on History -- Tools, Talent and Technology; Jobs at Sutter's Fort
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Aug. 17. Fort hours 10 to 5 p.m. (open daily). Cannon firing demonstrations: 11, 1 and 3 p.m. Musket demonstrations periodically throughout the day.
Cost: $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children (5 and under).;
For more info: 916-445-4422 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Wood and tool demonstration at Sutter's Fort. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park.

August 13, 2013
Authors to speak on Nisei WWII Veterans

Twice Heroes.jpgTwo authors will speak on the experiences and legacy of Japanese-American World War II veterans at the California State Military Museum on Saturday, August 17. Tom Graves will lead off the program at 1:00 p.m. with a discussion of Twice Heroes: America's Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea, a book which uses portraits and interviews to share the experiences of Japanese American veterans before, during and after the wars

Award-winning local author Kiyo Sato will follow at 2:00 p.m., presenting Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream, a recent printing of Dandelion through the Crack, which tells "the compelling story of starting a family in California, coping during the Depression, being swept off to concentration camps, and ultimately surviving and succeeding despite terrible odds and oppressive prejudice." Kiyo will discuss her wartime internment and later service in the U.S. Air Force.

Books will be available for sale at the program, and both authors will be on hand to sign copies and answer questions.

What: Author talk and signing on Nisei World War II veterans
When: August 17, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd Street
Cost: Free
For more info: or (916) 854-1900

August 12, 2013
Conference to explore Josiah Royce and California

royce.bmpThe life and work of philosopher, teacher and historian Josiah Royce (1855-1916) will be examined during a three-day conference held this weekend at the historic Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley.

Royce grew up in Grass Valley, studied and taught at UC Berkeley, later earned four doctorates and eventually spent the last 34 years of his life as a professor at Harvard University. Although he taught many different subjects, Royce is best known for his philosophic writings and historical studies of California and the West, including California: A Study of American Character: From the Conquest in 1846 to the Second Vigilance Committee in San Francisco.

The sponsoring organization, Josiah Royce Society, will host speakers and paper panels at the conference. In addition there will be tours of the Royce Avon property and a reading of the play "Beyond These Mountains" by Robin Wallace.

Participants may register online.

What: Royce, California and the World
Where: Holbrooke Hotel, 212 W. Main, Grass Valley
When: Aug. 16-18,
Cost: students $100, public and faculty $125. Friday buffet with John McDermott $26. Saturday banquet with Kevin Starr $30.
For more info: website

August 8, 2013
Historical river cruise offered during Gold Rush Days

Capitol_Hornblower_NoFence.JPGGold Rush Days, Old Sacramento's premier historical event, is coming Labor Day weekend..

This year, visitors to the four-day festival can enjoy a history-themed cruise on the Sacramento River. These one-hour tours aboard the Capitol Hornblower feature an informative narration, scenic views of the city and Gold Rush coloring sheets for the kids. Snacks and beverages provided by Fat City Catering will be available for purchase.

Seating is limited. You can reserve a spot online or by calling 888-467-6256.

What: Gold Rush Days River Cruises
Where: Capitol Hornblower -- leaves from Old Sacramento L St. Dock
When: Aug. 30, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.; Aug. 31, 12:00, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 1, 12:00, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.; Sept. 2, 1:30 and 3:00 p.m.
Cost: $19.96 per person
For more info: 888-467-6256 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Capitol Hornblower. Courtesy Hornblower Cruises & Events

August 7, 2013
Cemetery symbols and Victorian funeral practices

Symbolism History Tour.jpgThe next tour at Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery uncovers the hidden meaning behind the mysterious symbols that adorn the 19th century headstones. As before, knowledgeable docents in period attire will lead guests on a fascinating excursion into the past.

Cemetery parking is available across the street from the 10th St. Gate.

What: Symbolism and Victorian Funeral Customs
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: April 10, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: call 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Cemetery monument. Photograph by Anita Lincoln for the Historic City Cemetery

August 6, 2013
Heritage Trail showcases Placer County museums

Mother Lode Goldhound.jpgNineteen Placer County museums from Roseville to Tahoe City will strut their stuff during this weekend's 2013 Heritage Trail tour.

The museums are grouped in three "clusters," each close to Interstate 80: Five Valley Museums in South Placer; six Auburn Museums; and seven Mountain Museums in the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe.

Admission will be free at all museums and each will offer special activities that will appeal to visitors of all ages. Many will offer food and beverages.

See the Heritage Trail blog for the latest information on bus tours, raffles, food, souvenirs and activities.

What: The Heritage Trail: Placer County Museums Tour
Where: You can start at any of the 18 participating museums.
When: Aug. 10 & 11, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free admission at all museums. Bus tours, $10.
For more info: Heritage Trail Blog, Facebook page and Trail Guide Brochure. Call (530) 889-6500 to reserve a seat on the bus tours.

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: At the Gold Country Museum in Auburn a member of the Mother Lode Goldhounds shows a young visitor how to pan for gold. Photograph by Anita Yoder. Courtesy Heritage Trail.

August 5, 2013
Historian to speak on early Yolo, Solano County farmers

after gold.JPGSome of the many prospectors who failed to strike it rich during California's Gold Rush settled along Putah Creek in Yolo and Solano Counties to try their luck at farming and ranching. Their struggle to overcome drought, flooding and other challenges will be described in a talk this Thursday by historian David Vaught.

Vaught is professor of history at Texas A&M University and author of Cultivating California: Growers, Specialty Crops, and Labor, 1875-1920 and After The Gold Rush: Tarnished Dreams in the Sacramento Valley. He earned his doctorate from UC Davis in 1997.

The event is co-sponsored by the Putah Creek Council, Winters Friends of the Library, Yolo County Historical Society, Friends of the Yolo County Archives and Winters Visitors Center.

What: Settling Putah Creek after the Gold Rush
Where: Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St., Winters
When: Aug. 8, 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: free, but donations welcome at the door
For more info: (530) 795-2329 or website

Event flyer

August 1, 2013
Truckee celebrates its 150th anniversary

RP TRUCKEE OVERALL.JPGHistorians fix the establishment of Truckee with the 1863 opening of Gray's Toll Station, a two-story cabin used to collect fees for a nearby bridge. It was built by Joseph Henry Gray in the 1850s to house his family and to later sell provisions to passing freight haulers.

This year Truckee celebrates its 150th anniversary as a town (and its 20th year as an incorporated city) with a series of special events which continues this Sunday when the Truckee Donner Historical Society hosts an educational program featuring talks and demonstrations by guest experts. The program includes local author Mark McLaughlin, a demonstration by the Washoe Cultural Council, a talk on the Truckee ice industry by historian Tom Macaulay, a presentation on old Highway 40 by the Donner Summit Historical Society, plus participation by the Truckee Donner Railroad Society and North Lake Tahoe Historical Society. Bring the kids -- hot dogs will be provided.

Then on August10 the focus shifts to Sierra train history when visitors of all ages can learn about the arrival of the Central Pacific, local logging railroads and that passenger train that was snowbound at Donner Pass in 1952. In addition there will be model train rides courtesy of the Sacramento Valley Live Steamer Railroad Museum. The festivities are co-sponsored by the Truckee Donner Railroad Society, Truckee Donner Historical Society and Town of Truckee.

What: Truckee Donner Historical Society Celebration
Where: Joseph Research Society, 10115 Donner Trail Rd., Truckee
When: Aug. 4, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free, but donations welcome
For more info: 530-559-2378 or event flyer

What: Truckee Railroad History Day
Where: Truckee Regional Park, 10050 Brockway Road, Truckee
When: Aug. 10, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free, but donations welcome
For more info: 530-559-2378 or event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Old Truckee is crowded with cars as visitors enjoy the historic district. 2004 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

August 1, 2013
New book examines the unique radicalism of 1960s San Francisco

Radical Sixties_Front.jpgA new history of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s explores the influence that geography had on the development of the region's particular style of radical politics and culture. Author Anthony Ashbolt considers the wide range of singular events and trends -- rock music, hippies, utopian social experiments, student protest, drugs, etc. -- that gave rise to the Bay Area's unique radicalism.

Ashbolt is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Wollongong.

A Cultural History of the Radical Sixties in the San Francisco Bay Area
By Anthony Ashbolt
Pickering & Chatto Publishers
Hardcover, 255 pages

About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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