Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

April 29, 2011
Old Sac offers two new walking tours
Architectural Image 2.jpg

Starting this weekend the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation will begin offering two new tours of the river-front area that reflect the intriguing early history of the city.

Gold Rush Legacy Tours are lead by docents in period dress who describe life in the 1850s using original and reconstructed buildings as a historic backdrop. Old Sacramento Architectural Tours help guests understand the evolution of the city through examination of its early architecture.

These "Above Ground" tours are offered in addition to the popular underground Sacramento program that resumed this month.

What: Walking Tours in Old Sacramento
Sacramento City: California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour and From Canvas to Brick: Old Sacramento Architectural Tour
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Saturdays & Sundays -- May thru August, 2011
In May (one tour per day):
Saturdays at 11 a.m. -- California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour
Sundays at 11 a.m. -- Old Sacramento Architectural Tour
In June, July & August:
Weekends at 11 a.m. -- California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour
Weekends at 12:30 p.m. -- Old Sacramento Architectural Tour
Cost: $7 for adults; $5 for youths
For More information: 916-808-7059 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Historic Old Sacramento Foundation.

April 28, 2011
Lincoln Highway California Cruises begin Saturday

This Saturday, April 30, the California Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association will host the first of four guided caravan cruises along the California route of the nation's first transcontinental highway. Each one-day cruise travels a different leg of the Lincoln Highway and features historic points of interest along the way:

Cruise 1 · 1913-27 Central Valley Route · From Sacramento to San Francisco, via San Joaquin Valley and the Altamont Pass (roughly paralleling I-580, I-205, and Route 99)

Cruise 2 · Sierra Nevada Southern Route · From Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, via Echo Summit and the Pioneer Trail (the US 50 corridor)

Cruise 3 · Sierra Nevada Northern Route · From Sacramento to Verdi, Nevada, via the Donner Pass and Dog Valley (paralleling I-80)

Cruise 4 · 1928 Central Valley Route · From Sacramento to San Francisco, via Sacramento Valley and across the Carquinez Strait (paralleling I-80)

Tours depart promptly at 9 a.m. from the Holiday Inn off I-80 at the Madison Avenue exit (5321 Date Ave, Sacramento, CA 95841). Participants can travel in cars, trucks, SUVs or motorcycles, and are provided with driving directions and walkie-talkies.  The cruises stop at points of interest and break for lunch.

Registration is required. For more information and to register, visit

April 27, 2011
Little-known native people are focus of lecture

Kawaiisu.JPGDr. Alan P. Garfinkel, a UC Davis graduate, is an archaeologist who studies the prehistoric record of native people who lived in the far Southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountains, western Mojave Desert, and southwestern Great Basin. He will be speaking in Sacramento about his new book, Handbook of the Kawaiisu, a comprehensive sourcebook on this little-known group whose descendents still live in the Tehachapi region. The lecture will describe their remarkable culture which has survived for centuries.

What: Native Peoples Lecture & Book Signing with Dr. Alan P. Garfinkel
Where: State Indian Museum -- 2618 K Street, Sacramento
When: April 30, 2011, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission: $3 for adults; $2 for youths ages 6 to 17 and free for children five and under
Due to space limitations, advance reservations are recommended by calling 916-324-0971
For more information: 916-324-0971 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Kawaiisu coiled woven basket. Central California. c. 1870. Courtesy of Brant Mackley.

April 26, 2011
Remaking California: a panel discussion

RCALcover_web.jpgThat California's government is seriously broken is apparent to observers on all points of the political spectrum. A much lauded new compilation Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good presents the analysis of leading writers and scholars who "probe the roots of this crisis, trace its effects on people's lives and the environment, and propose reforms to remedy problems and restore the state's democratic promise."

The book's editor and three contributors will be on hand for an upcoming panel discussion organized by the Center for Sacramento History and the Sacramento History Foundation. The event features Dr. Jeffrey Lustig, CSUS professor of government; Dan Walters, Bee political columnist; Lenny Goldberg, California Tax Reform Association Executive Director; and Osha Meserve, Sacramento attorney specializing in environmental concerns.

What: Remaking California, Breaking Political Gridlock
When: Wednesday, May 4, 201: doors open at 6:30 p.m.; lecture at 7:00 p.m.
Place: Jean Runyon Little Theater, Memorial Auditorium, 1515 J Street, Sacramento
Cost: $5.00 suggested donation at the door
For more information: call (916) 808-7072

Press Release

April 25, 2011
UC Davis historian wins a Guggenheim award

UC Davis history professor Louis S. Warren has won a prestigious fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Warren, who is the W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, studies "the history of the American West, especially the changing connections between people and nature, Native American history and the history of California." He is author of Buffalo Bill's America and American Environmental History. Warren also co-edits Boom, a new journal concerned with the Golden State's culture, history and politics.

Warren intends to use the $40,000 research grant to complete his latest work: A Hole in the Dream: the Ghost Dance and the Making of Modern America, a book examining the struggle of Native Americans to preserve their religion and culture in the 1890s.

Incidentally, Prof. Warren was interviewed on the public radio program Studio 360 about the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody. Listen to the program here.

April 25, 2011
Colorful carousel animals grace the Placer County Museums

postcard5.jpgA Leap of Imagination, the newest exhibit at the Placer County Museums, boasts a zoo full of beautifully painted antique carousel animals. In addition to a herd of horses, there swans, bears, rabbits, tigers, camels and other critters. Check out the photos in the Museum's blog.

What: A Leap of Imagination
Where: Placer County Museum (Historic Courthouse), 101 Maple St., Auburn
When: Open everyday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm; closed Holidays
Cost: Free
For more information: (530) 889-6500
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The latest edition of The Placer, the Placer County Museums' newsletter, contains an interesting article describing travel along the Auburn-Sacramento Road in the 1850s. According to historian Ralph Gibson, it took ten hours for the average wagon to make the 45-mile trip. The road started out as a miners trail used to bring supplies to the upper foothills. It evolved into a dirt thoroughfare that became a muddy mess in the rainy season.

April 24, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Netta White Sparks

Netta Sparks.JPG Born: March 31, 1897
Died: Nov. 20, 1993

Known for: An active member of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Oak Park, Sparks was a driving force in the growth of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Background: Born in Longview, Texas, Sparks came to Sacramento in 1917. She worked as a maid in a brothel, an elevator operator at the Capitol, a silver polisher at Breuner's department store and a domestic helper in the homes of the wealthy. Deciding to do something about the shortage of housing for African American women here after World War I, Sparks and six other women formed the Negro Women's Civic Improvement Club and raised enough money to buy a house so women had a place to stay. In the 1920s, she was the NAACP chapter's first secretary. In the 1930s, she was the lead organizer for the group's youth council. In the 1940s, when the African American population of Sacramento grew rapidly as a result of the war, she was the chapter's president.

A highlight: The Netta Sparks Senior Activity Annex in Oak Park is named in her honor.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

April 22, 2011
New acquisition for State Library

The California State Library's California History Section recently received a donation from the great-granddaughter of San Francisco art dealer Matthew C. Ansbro. The majority of this collection consists of correspondence to Ansbro from Ukiah artist Grace Carpenter Hudson (1865-1937), who trained at the California School of Design of the San Francisco Art Association, and painted portraits of primarily younger members of Mendocino County's Pomo tribe. Her husband John Wilz Napier Hudson became an expert on the Pomo language, and collected baskets and other artifacts for the Field Museum of Chicago.

This collection also includes correspondence to Ansbro from renowned California illustrator and muralist Maynard Dixon. One of these letters contains a drawing of an Arizona Native American woman; also included is a Dixon pencil drawing of St. Francis. These illustrations add to the knowledge of his body of work.  

Seen below is a photo of Maynard Dixon painting his mural Pageant of Tradition on the wall of the Gillis Reading Room in the Library and Courts Building at 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento.

Maynard Dixon.bmp

April 22, 2011
The Central Valley Turns On: Two more weeks of psychedelic art at the California Museum

Country Joe and the Fish.jpgIn early November 2010, The California Museum introduced the exhibit The Central Valley Turns On: Psychedelic Art, 1965-1975. Since Sac History Happenings got its start nearly two months later, contributing bloggers missed the chance to inform readers about this music and arts-related display. Now is our opportunity.

In just over two weeks, on May 8, 2011, The Central Valley Turns On will come to a close and for the time being, this series of colorful, mind-bending rock-and-roll posters will leave the public eye. As the California Museum website states, "the exhibit features promotional posters and handbills that originated from the dance and concert venues of the Central Valley, many of which have not been publicly displayed since they were made in the 1960s and 1970s."

You still have time to experience The Central Valley Turns On and to see wild depictions of Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's sure to be a great trip back to the Central Valley's musical and cultural past.

The California Museum is located at 1020 O Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814. They are open Monday through Saturday, 10am-5pm, and Sundays, 12pm-5pm. Admission ranges from $8.50 to $6.00 per person; children under five are free.

IMAGE CREDIT: "Country Joe and the Dead", from the collection of Paul Getchell, Courtesy of the California Museum.

April 21, 2011
Old Sacramento development plan now online

oldsac.JPGLast night the Old Sacramento State Historic Park unveiled its long-term development plan. As The Bee's Cathy Locke reported today, this "Draft Preferred Alternative" emphasizes the Gold Rush Era when thousands of fortune-seekers descended on the city.

This ambitious proposal includes a two-tiered exhibit displaying buried buildings of the 1840s-50s below ground, as well as structures of the 1870s at street level. In addition it envisions an excursion train running 17 miles to Hood.

A copy of the Draft Preferred Alternative -- PowerPoint Presentation and Graphics -- has just been posted on the OSSHP website. The public may submit comments about the plan in writing by May 6. These may be mailed to California State Parks, Capital District, 111 I St., Sacramento, CA 95814, or emailed to Please use the online Comment Card form.

A draft general plan and environmental impact report will be prepared and released next spring for a 45-day comment period. The general plan and environmental report will then be submitted to the California Park and Recreation Commission for approval.

PHOTO CREDIT: The open space next to the California State Railroad Museum would be the site of the two-tiered historic street display. 2011 Sacramento Bee photo by Randy Pench.

April 21, 2011
Former WWII pilot's widow takes flight in a B-17

B-17.JPGTo honor the memory of her late husband, Iris Taggart, 84, has worked tirelessly to bring restored World War II warplanes to Sacramento for demonstrations at Mather Airport. Recently she took a ride on the "Liberty Belle," a B-17 bomber maintained by the Liberty Foundation. The Bee's Randy Pench captured the experience in a short video. Mrs. Taggart was profiled in a 2008 Bee article.

Thumbnail image for Taggart.JPGRobert "Tag" Taggart served as a B-17 co-pilot during the WWII. He flew 30 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe. Later Maj. Taggart flew C-47s during the 1948 Berlin Airlift. He remained in the Air Force until 1966 and passed away in 2005. Read more details about his life in the Bee obituary.

April 20, 2011
Sacramento's SP shops featured at next SCHS meeting

SactoB.gifThe Southern Pacific shops at Sacramento, the oldest and largest of the railroad, are the focus of this month's general membership meeting of the Sacramento County Historical Society.

Historian Bob Pecotich, author of Southern Pacific's Sacramento Shops: Incubator of Innovation, will lecture on the enormously productive facility which "built or rebuilt hundreds of steam and diesel locomotives, and thousands of freight and passenger cars, along with extensive work on passenger and official cars, in its history from 1868 to 1990."

Pecotich is also co-author of Southern Pacific Steam Pictorial, Vols. 1 & 2, which are heavily illustrated with photographs and statistics on dozens of vintage steam locomotives.

What: Sacramento's SP Railroad Shops
When: Tuesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Building, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento.
Cost: Free for SCHS members and the general public.
For more information: 916-443-6265 or

April 18, 2011
Sacramentans and the Great Quake of 1906

Fontaine.JPGOn this 105th anniversary of the massive earthquake that devastated San Francisco, it's appropriate to ponder the role Sacramento played in the tragedy.

Though there was no damage locally, the 5:12 a.m. tremors were widely felt in the capital. After news of the destruction hit town, Sacramentans responded quickly to the emergency by forming a relief committee, sending money, food and supplies, and taking care of the several thousand refugees who fled the Bay Area.

A 2006 Bee story recalled three Sacramento-based U.S. Geological Survey employees who left us detailed accounts of their experiences with the earthquake.

And speaking of the Bee, on the day of the quake the newspaper quickly dispatched a team of journalists to San Francisco and published their initial impressions in the afternoon edition:

San Francisco was practically wrecked by an earthquake at 5:10 this morning. The shock lasted three minutes. Thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed. The loss of life is reported to be great.

There is no water and fire rages all over the city. All wires with the exception of one are gone. The City Hall, costing $7,000,000, is in ruins. Modern buildings suffered less than brick and frame.

The terror and excitement are indescribable. Most of the people were asleep, and were suddenly aroused and rushed into the streets, undressed. Buildings swayed and crashed, burying occupants. ... People flocked to the telegraph offices to send messages to friends and were frantic because there were no wires. ...

The greatest damage to buildings was done south of Market Street, where there are mostly frame houses and tenement houses. Fire broke out in nearly every block of the district.

PHOTO CREDIT: USGS stenographer Adelena M. Fontaine in the Pacific Region Topographic Mapping office in Sacramento. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, she assisted refugees who arrived in Sacramento by train. Courtesy the George R. Davis family.

April 18, 2011
Earthquake Living History Program at State Capitol

Pardee.jpgOn Saturday, April 30, the California State Capitol Museum will host a living history program on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.  Museum volunteers and staff will don period costume and re-enact important moments that took place here in Sacramento in response to the devastation in San Francisco,

"Meet Governor George Pardee as he receives a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt offering $1 million for disaster relief. Attorney General Ulysses S. Webb, Secretary of State Charles Curry, and Treasurer Truman Reeves will be on hand to help the refugees, some of whom camped out on the Capitol grounds and at Sutter's Fort. Meet the women of Sacramento who assisted the San Francisco families to obtain meal tickets, clothing, and blankets."

This is a free program; tours run every 15 minutes from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information call 916-324-0333 or visit

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Portrait of California Governor George C. Pardee. George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

April 17, 2011
In History's Spotlight: David Broderick

david_broderick.jpgBorn: Feb. 4, 1820
Died: Sept. 16, 1859

Known for: A California state senator, lieutenant governor and U.S. senator, David Broderick was killed in a duel with David Terry, former chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The former town of Broderick (now part of West Sacramento) was named for him.

Background: Broderick started his political career in his native state of New York and came to California during the Gold Rush. He acquired wealth by privately minting gold coins. Broderick served in the state Senate from 1850--1851 and was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, beginning his service in 1857. An anti-slavery advocate, he clashed with Terry, who favored extending slavery into California. Broderick read some inflammatory remarks Terry made against him at a Democratic Party convention, then responded in kind. Terry and Broderick met at Lake Merced for a duel Sept. 13, 1859. Terry shot Broderick in the chest after Broderick's gun fired prematurely. Broderick died three days later.

A highlight: Broderick was elected president of the state Senate in 1851, thereby becoming California's second lieutenant governor.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings. 

April 14, 2011
Remembering KZAP 1968-1992: Former DJs to speak at Time Tested Books

On Sunday, April 17 at 7pm, Peter Keat of Time Tested Books and Tim Foster of Midtown Monthly will host another one of their successful Sacramento Living Library speaker's events. This time around, the discussion will include "well-known radio personalities Jeff Hughson, Bob Keller, Dennis Newhall, and Robert Williams for a loo2009-014KZAP Chesire Cat logo.jpgk back at the Valley's much beloved rock station, 98.5, KZAP."

According to Foster, the series' official host and sometimes-moderator, the KZAP-related event offers community members the opportunity to "get a look at the behind-the-scenes history of the region's best-loved rock station. For an entire generation, KZAP was the sound of Sacramento. "

KZAP certainly left its mark on the city, as did the station's infamous grinning cat.

Seats for Remembering KZAP 1968-1992 are sure to fill up quickly and guests should plan an early arrival. Doors open at 6:30pm and the discussion kicks off at 7pm. Time Tested Books is located at 1114 21st Street, Sacramento. The event is free and all are invited.

 IMAGE CREDIT: Center for Sacramento History, Jeffrey Hughson Collection, 2009/014/XX 

April 13, 2011
Sac History Happenings now on Twitter

Thumbnail image for twitter.jpgFollow us on Twitter! It's a convenient way to keep up with news and events in Sacramento's history community. You'll not only be alerted to new items in this blog, you'll also see headlines of recent history-related Bee stories.

Check it out at:

And while we're on the subject, The Bee History Section wants your family snapshots. Not recent ones, but vintage photos of your ancestors. The pictures don't have to be set in Sacramento or the region (though that would be nice). And they don't have to be professionally done. Just be evocative of a historic period (through old clothing, vehicles, buildings, etc.).

Take a look at Scott Craig's contributions to the Bee's History User Photo Gallery. His family has lived in the region for many decades and he's uploaded some interesting examples from his photo collection. You can add yours, too. Just fill out the form below the gallery, browse to the scanned (jpeg) photo in your computer and hit "Upload File". Thanks!

April 12, 2011
California State Library's "Food for Thought."

April's Food for Thought event at the California State Library will feature a screening of the 2008 indie film Bottle Shock, which tells the story of how, in 1976, Napa Valley wines scored  a shocking victory over France's best varietals in a blind tasting with eight Parisian judges. The "Judgment of Paris," as it came to be known, vaulted California vintners and their wines to international prominence. Special guest Darrell Corti, of the legendary and beloved Corti Brothers store at 59th and Folsom, will join in a discussion after the film.

Food for Thought will take place on Wednesday, April 20 from 5:00 to 8:30 PM in the California History Room, Room 200, at the California State Library, 900 N Street, Sacramento. The doors open at 5 PM and the program begins one hour later with time for discussion afterwards. Metered street parking is free after 6 PM; 8th and O light rail access is close by. Seating in this venue is limited, so attendees must RSVP to Rebecca Ann Fontaine at 916-653-9942 or

April 12, 2011
Civil War Sesquicentennial begins

civil war.JPGToday is the 150th anniversary of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the opening salvo of the U.S. Civil War. Although California saw little military action during the conflict, the state played a significant part in the war by supplying volunteers and gold in the service of the Union. It also provided future historians with a goodly share of political and military intrigue.

There may be few battlefields in California, but as described in the San Francisco Chronicle, there are at least five sites in the state of interest to Civil War buffs.

Locally, interested people can connect with the Sacramento Civil War Round Table, a forum established in 1961 to share and discuss knowledge about this important period in U.S. history. The group meets monthly, the second Wednesday of each month (public welcome). Tomorrow's meeting features a lecture by Sacramento City College instructor Sherri Patton, speaking on "Women in the South."

Next month, May 20-22, the Civil War Experience returns to Gibson Ranch Park, recently reopened after a five month closure due to budget cuts. Events include a day-long program for school children, battle reenactments, living history demonstrations, period music and dancing, lectures and speeches.

Down the road, Nov. 11-13, the Sacramento and Elk Grove Civil War Round Tables will host the West Coast Civil War Conference at the Sacramento Doubletree Hotel. Speakers will address "1861: The First Year."

PHOTO CREDIT: Confederate troops fire on Union soldiers during a Civil War reenactment at Gibson Ranch in 2004. Sacramento Bee photo by Brian Baer

April 11, 2011
Local writer pens biography of Elizabeth Bacon Custer

Custers.jpgA new biography of Elizabeth Bacon Custer, wife of Indian fighter George Armstrong Custer, will be released this week. None Wounded, None Missing, All Dead is co-written by Howard Kazanjian and Chris Enss, a Nevada City author of many histories and historical novels, mostly about women in the Old West.

In her new book Enss recounts the couple's early romance, adventurous life in the military, the death of the General at Little Big Horn and Libby's career afterwards as a writer, lecturer and tireless defender of her husband's reputation. She emerges as a master propagandist who successfully crafted the image of George Custer as a heroic figure.

Enss recently discussed Elizabeth Custer's legacy on the local KXJZ radio program Insight with Jeffrey Callison. You can hear a recording of that segment here.  Enss was also interviewed about her book by KNCO and Chronicle of the Old West.

PHOTO CREDIT: Maj. Gen. George and Elizabeth Custer. Photo courtesy of the Medford Historical Society.

April 10, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Stacy Draglia

Born: March 25, 1971 Known for: Auburn native Stacy Dragila won the first women's Olympic pole vaulting gold medal in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 and set the American record of 15 feet, 10 inches in 2004.

Draglia.JPGBackground: Stacy Mikaelson grew up on her father's farm in Auburn and attended Alta Vista Elementary, E.V. Cain Middle and Placer High schools. She met her husband, Brent Dragila, at Placer High. She was recruited by Yuba College and trained for the seven-event heptathlon before earning a scholarship to Idaho State University. In 1997, she became the first woman to win the world indoor pole vaulting championship and in 1999 became the first woman to win the outdoor title. At the 2000 Olympic Trials at California State University, Sacramento, Dragila qualified for the Olympic team by vaulting 15 feet, 21/4 inches. She placed fourth in the pole vault at the 2004 Athens Games. Her goal is to make the U.S. team for the world championships in Osaka, Japan, in August and qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

A highlight: Following the 2000 Olympics, Dragila's photo was featured on a Wheaties box. Pocatello, Idaho, has named a street after her, Dragila Way.

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

April 8, 2011
"Frozen Airman" author to speak at Military Museum

stekel.jpgOn Nov. 18, 1942 an Army AT-7 aircraft flying from Mather Field to Corning with a four-man crew went missing. Five years later a hiker found its wreckage in the mountains of Kings Canyon National Park. Although a dog tag was found at that time, it took another 58 years to recover any of the bodies.

The discovery of the first "Frozen Airman," Leo Mustonen, made big news in 2005. The remains of a second crewman, Ernest Munn, were recovered in 2007, found by Peter Stekel, a writer who was researching the crash. His findings were documented in a blog and later in a book, Final Flight.

Stekel will discuss the story of the airmen and their ill-fated training mission this Sunday at the California State Military Museum.

What: Meet the Author, Peter Stekel
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St., Sacramento
When: Aug. 10, 1 to 3 p.m.
Cost: The event is free with museum admission. Adults, $5; children (Age 6-17) & seniors (55+), $3; children (Age 0-5), veterans, military members (with ID) and museum members, free.
For more info: phone (916) 854-1904 or email the museum

PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Stekel with wreckage of the AT-7 aircraft that crashed on Mount Mendel in 1942. August 2007 photo by Michele Hinatsu.

April 7, 2011
Open Garden and Sale at the Historic City Cemetery

roses.JPGSpring has sprung in Sacramento. Time for the annual Open Garden and Sale at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. Festivities include tours of the cemetery and its various gardens, plus a flower sale and silent auction to benefit the facility.

The Historic Rose Garden originated in 1987 when a group of volunteers formed to restore the cemetery to its former beauty. Today the garden extends over three acres and displays over 500 heritage roses -- many "found" in abandoned sites, homesteads, cemeteries and roadsides in the region.

The old city cemetery also houses two other gardens: the Perennial Plant Club's Hamilton Square (combining modern roses with perennial plants) and the California Native Plant Society's Demonstration Garden.

What: 2011 Open Garden Day
Where: Historic Sacramento City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway
When: April 16, 2011
10 a.m. Rose Garden tour
11 a.m. Rose Garden tour
12 p.m. History tour of Cemetery
1 p.m. Rose Garden tour
Throughout event: cart tour of cemetery and gardens
Silent Auction opens at 9:30 a.m, closes at 12:30 p.m.
For more info:
phone (916) 443-2146 or email See also the 2011 Silent Auction Catalog.

Barbara Oliva, Rose Garden curator at the Sacramento Old City Cemetery, holding "General Washington" roses. 2005 photograph by Owen Brewer, Sacramento Bee.

April 6, 2011
Free history-infused fun in Woodland Saturday

Looking for something to do with the family for free on Saturday?

Head to Woodland, where 11 historical sites and museums are hosting the community's first annual Free Museum Day.

Participating venues include the Hedrick Ag History Museum, Hays Antique Truck Museum, Spring Lake School House, Historic Woodland Railroad Depot, Christian Church Museum, Woodland Museum of Biblical Archeology and Reiff's Gas Station and Woodland Fire Museum.

The historic Gibson House, which houses the Yolo County Historical Museum, also is part of the tour, as is the Woodland Opera House, which was established in 1885 and was the first opera house to serve the Sacramento valley, according to a news release from the Yolo County Visitors Bureau.

Maps and brochures will be available at each site.

Free Museum Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call the Woodland Historical Museum at (530) 666-1045.

-- Niesha Lofing

April 6, 2011
Registration opens for series on 1920s Sacramento

1920s logo.JPGThe Sacramento Room at the Central Library has opened registration for an upcoming program series, Capital Decades: 1920s.  Throughout the month of May, the library will host free programs that explore life in Sacramento during the Roaring 20s:

City Life (Tuesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m., Sacramento Room): Local historians and researchers James Scott, Tom Tolley, Mike Munson, and Shawn Peter will discuss 1920s life in the city, including Sacramento's architecture, transportation, popular culture, entertainment venues, the Prohibition Era, and local speakeasies.

Fashions and Styles (Tuesday, May 10, 6-8 p.m., Sacramento Room): The Sacramento Art Deco Society will present a fashion show featuring vintage styles of the 1920s.

Motion Pictures (Tuesday, May 17, 6-8 p.m., Sacramento Room): Participate in a screening and discussion of short films and movie clips that were shown in Sacramento's early motion picture palaces during the 1920s, led by film historian Matías Bombal.

Charleston! (Thursday, May 26, 7-10 p.m., Tsakopoulos Galleria): Midtown Stomp will provide free dance instruction from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., followed by Charleston dance music from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Attendees are encouraged to wear 1920s-era attire.  Single dancers are welcomed, too.

For more information and to register, visit the Capital Decades webpage or call (916) 264-2920.

April 5, 2011
Sacramento Modern Architecture, movie night at the Crocker

Modern Architecture enthusiasts won't want to miss the special screening of "Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman," which plays this Thursday night at the Crocker Art Museum. The film "celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, whose photographs brought modern architecture and progressive architects into the American mainstream."

Presented in collaboration with the Crocker, SacMod (the group that brought you last summer's incredibly successful Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour), and the American Institute of Architects Central Valley, the film has some local significance, as Shulman photographed at least one building in town-- The National Youth Admistration building designed by Richard Neutra.

Gretchen Steinberg, a founding member of the SacMod group explains additional significance that the film has to our community, "I think the film highlights the importance of great design and underscores the need for further celebration, education and preservation of our excellent mid-20th century architecture. The architects that Shulman worked with believed they could change the world through better design. That spirit and excitement is alive and well here in Sacramento's design community; I would like to see it ecouraged and nurtured." Those who are interested in discovering more about Shulman's photographic work, Mid-Century architecture, and Modern designers should plan on seeing the one-night screening of "Visual Acoustics." For those interested in local Modern architecture, Steinberg's "Sacramento Mid-Century Modern" blog is certainly worth checking out.

"Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman" plays at the Crocker Art Museum on Thursday, April 7 ("Thursdays 'til 9") and has a run time of about 80 minutes. Director Eric Bricker will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. Admission is $6 for Crocker Members, $12 for Non-members.

April 4, 2011
The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad

narrow.JPGRunning on slimmer tracks, narrow gauge trains are smaller, cheaper to build and cheaper to operate. Historically they were used for specific industries, such as mining, logging and construction

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad began operating in 1876 to serve the mining areas of the county. Its 22.5-mile route started in Nevada City, ran through Grass Valley and ended in Colfax where people and freight could connect with the Central Pacific.

Kapper.jpgIf you want to know more about the railroad, come to a free lecture by Ron Kapper, historian of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum on April 9. He'll describe the history and importance of the NCNGRR, which hauled not only gold, but also mining machinery, lumber, petroleum products and passengers for 66 years.

What: The History and Significance of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad
Where: Bernhard Museum Winery, 291 Auburn Folsom Road, Auburn
When: April 9, 1-3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 530-889-6500 or Placer County Museums

PHOTO CREDIT: Engine No. 5, built in 1875. Originally called the "Tahoe," it was sold in 1899 to the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad. The locomotive retired to the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in 2003. Photo by Tim O'Brien

April 3, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Timothy Busfield

busfield.jpgBorn: June 12, 1957

Known for: Emmy-winning actor Timothy Busfield founded the Fantasy Theatre in Sacramento and with his older brother, Buck, the B Street Theatre. He has appeared in more than 40 films, including "Field of Dreams," and 20 television shows, including most recently "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." He has directed many plays and more than 50 TV episodes.

Background: A Lansing, Mich., native, Busfield attended East Tennessee State University. His early film roles included "Stripes" and "Revenge of the Nerds," along with television roles in "The Paper Chase" and "Trapper John, M.D." In 1986, he created Fantasy Theatre, a touring group that performs for 200,000 students annually in Northern California. In 1991, he and Buck opened the B Street Theatre, where he has appeared in and directed numerous contemporary works. The theater has premiered original or West Coast productions by Aaron Sorkin, Kenneth Lonergan and other noted playwrights.

A highlight: Timothy Busfield has been nominated four times for television's Emmy Award, winning in 1991 for his work in "thirtysomething."

In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.

April 1, 2011
Railtown resumes its popular train rides

WildflowerTrain.JPGThis weekend Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown (Tuolumne County) will resume its steam-powered train rides. These six-mile, 40-minute excursions through Gold Country depart on the hour, 11 to 3 p.m., every Saturday and Sunday through October.

On April 2 at 7 a.m. there will be a special Early Bird program at the Roundhouse where the public is invited to watch crews fire up a locomotive in preparation for the day's operation. This weekend there will also be roundhouse tours and demonstrations in the belt-driven machine shop.

Scheduled only for April 9 and 16 are two afternoon "Wildflower Train" rides which take passengers on a six-mile, one-hour ride through the scenic meadows and rolling hills filled with "meadow foam," "gold fields" and other flowers typically in bloom.

What: Weekend Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: Weekends beginning April 2 thru October 30, 2011
Cost: Free on April 2-3 for Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne residents only (with proof of residency)
General: $13 adults, $6 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more information: 209-984-4408 or visit

What: Wildflower Train Rides
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: Two Saturdays Only - April 9 & 16, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.
Cost: $21 adults, $10 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For More information: 209-984-4408 or visit

Press releases

PHOTO CREDIT: A special "Wildflower Train" ride in 2007. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum.

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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