Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

May 31, 2011
Event honors native elders

elder.JPGUPDATE: This event has been cancelled due to expected unseasonably bad weather.

The California State Indian Museum will again honor the Elders who keep the native traditions, stories, languages, and culture alive for future generations. The event features California Native vendors, community service groups, Indian dancers and guest speakers. Food will be available for purchase for guests and other attendees.

What: 34th Annual Honored Elders Day
Where: California State Indian Museum, 2618 K Street, Sacramento
When: June 4, 10:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more information:
(916) 324-0971 or

Event poster
Photos from the 2010 Honored Elders Day

PHOTO CREDIT: Bertha Norton gives her great great grandson Joshua Ramirez a pinch and a kiss at the California State Indian Museum during the "Gathering of Honored Elders" in 2000. Sacramento Bee photo by Bryan Patrick

May 29, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Karen Kijewski


Known for: Karen Kijewski is the author of nine successful mystery novels, all with "Kat" in the title and mostly set in Sacramento, featuring Kat Colorado.

Background: Kijewski (pronounced kee-EF-skee) moved to Sacramento in 1982 and supported her children by tending bar at the Sloughhouse Inn and later at A.J. Bumps. Her customers were politicians, professional athletes, businessmen, truck drivers and traveling salesmen. For eight years, she wrote during the day and tended bar at night. The bars were where she learned the quick comebacks that are so integral to Kat Colorado's language. She finished four books, which were rejected by every publishing house she approached. Then Kijewski started writing mysteries after hearing of a contest for first-time private-eye novelists, with prizes of $10,000 and the assurance of publication. Her first Kat book, "Kat Walk," won. The award allowed her to cut back on one bartending shift. She started writing full time after finishing her third Kat book, "Kat's Cradle" in 1991.

A highlight: Kijewski told The Bee in 1997: "I won three awards with 'Kat Walk.' It put me on the map. So after eight years of incredibly hard work, I became an overnight success."

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.

May 27, 2011
Golden Gate Bridge is 74

GoldenGate.JPGToday is the 74th anniversary of the grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge linking San Francisco and Marin County. To celebrate Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, put together a neat online exhibit on the festivities of May 27, 1937.

It's got a brief historic video showing airplanes flying overhead, warships steaming by, the parade of cars, etc. There's also a slideshow of black-and-white photos documented the construction and celebration. Finally there's Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta, the official souvenir program that's filled with pictures, advertisements, schedules, and articles about the bridge's construction and the prominent movers and shakers who made it happen.

Worth a look.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Golden Gate Bridge is shown after catwalks spanned the north (top) and south towers at the end of 1935. Sacramento Bee file photo.

May 26, 2011
Railroad Museum to jazz it up during Festival

Thumbnail image for jazz1.jpgThe California State Railroad Museum will contribute to the musical fun at the 38th Sacramento Jazz Festival this Memorial Day holiday. Jazz performers are scheduled to play inside the museum and on excursion trains all weekend. There will also be music sets at nearby venues. Museum admission is free for those carrying Festival badges.

Thumbnail image for jazz2.jpgWhat: Jazz-Related Activities at the California State Railroad Museum
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Excursion trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot (on Front Street between J and K Streets).
When: Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30 - special activities inside the Museum
Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30 - excursion trains running
Time: Museum open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Excursion trains depart hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Saturday thru Monday)
Cost: Museum admission -- $9 adults, $4 youths ages 6-17, free for children ages 5 and under. Excursion train rides -- $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under ($15 for first class tickets aboard the El Dorado)
For more info: 916-445-6645 or

News Release

PHOTO CREDITS: Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 25, 2011
Gold Country trains running all Memorial weekend

RailtownDepot28.JPGThis Memorial Day the steam-powered locomotives of Railtown 1897 SHP will be running all weekend taking visitors on trips through California's scenic Gold Country. The six-mile, 40-minute excursions depart hourly starting at 10 a.m.

Come for the train ride; stay for a tour of the historic Roundhouse.

What: Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides Over Memorial Day Weekend
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: May 28, 29 & 30, 2011
Cost: General: $13 adults, $6 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For More: 209-984-3953 or visit

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Sierra Railway locomotive No. 28, a vintage 1920s engine, pulls the Railtown excursion train. Courtesy of the California State Railroad Museum

May 23, 2011
Public art in Sacramento's Alkali Flat and Washington neighborhoods

Chicano art is the featured topic of the next general membership meeting of the Sacramento County Historical Society.

In the 1950s a vibrant Mexican American community developed in the Alkali Flat and Washington neighborhoods. Public murals created in the 1960s and 70s document the urban change and the close connection between art and the greater civil rights movement. Art historian Ella Diaz will discuss the historical significance of particular artworks housed at the Washington Neighborhood Center and other sites in the area.

Dr. Diaz is a Visiting Lecturer in The School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her research focuses on Hispanic/Chicano identity and history as expressed in visual and literary art.

What: Dr. Ella Diaz: Public Art and Urban Change in the Alkali Flats & Washington Neighborhoods
Where: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Building, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento. Directions.
When: May 24, 7-9 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Information: 916-443- 6265 or email

PHOTO CREDIT: Artist Esteban Villa restores a a mural he and his students painted in the Washington Neighborhood Center in 1971. 1997 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose Luis Villegas.

May 23, 2011
San Francisco trip down memory lane in photos

BART.jpgOur history-minded colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle recently launched an appealing series of historic images selected from the newspaper's photo archives.

Let's Go to the Morgue! has appeared about weekly in the Chron's Baby Blog since February. Each gallery covers a fascinating aspect of Bay Area history. The latest posting illustrates The Birth of BART with photos from the 1960s and 70s of construction and early operation of the regional transit system.

Other galleries include:

* Four Decades of Nudists in the Bay Area (rated PG)
* Willie Mays and the Children of the Bay Area
* A hundred years of the Emporium in San Francisco
* The Japan Air Lines miracle water landing of 1968
* Looking back at Playland at the Beach
* Four decades of Bay Area baseball fans
* Skid Row in San Francisco through the years
* Six decades of roller derby in the Bay Area
* Remembering the 1973 oil crisis
* Historic snow photos

PHOTO CREDIT: A BART test train stops at the Lake Merritt Station en route to Hayward, 1973. Courtesy Bay Area Rapid Transit.

May 22, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Mike Bryte

MBRYTE.JPGBorn: June 25, 1828
Died: Feb. 3, 1887

Known for: Mike Bryte was a successful dairyman and area landowner. The community of Bryte (now part of West Sacramento) was named for his family.

Background: Born in Clearcreek Township, Ohio, Bryte came to California and became a gold miner and businessman. In 1853, Bryte bought a small dairy north of Washington (now also part of West Sacramento).

In 1854, he contracted with the California Steam Navigation Co. to supply its river steamers with milk at 40 cents per gallon. In 1872, Bryte moved his family to Sacramento County, where he served two terms as sheriff.

A highlight: Bryte's son George later sold his and his two sisters' interest in the Bryte family land. Originally called the Riverbank settlement, the conditions of the sale required that the area carry the name of Bryte and that a street must carry the names of the sellers. Anna and Carrie streets in northern West Sacramento are named after the two Bryte sisters.

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.

May 20, 2011
A brief history of Rancho del Paso

ben ali.JPGLocal historian Lance Armstrong has provided us with an informative two-part series on Rancho del Paso, published recently in Valley Community Newspapers.

Rancho del Paso was a 44,000-acre Mexican land grant that covered much of present-day Carmichael and Arden. Its rich agricultural soil gave rise to orchards, vineyards, oak groves, and fields of alfalfa, hops and other crops. It also was an excellent environment for stock farms.

Thumbnail image for Haggin2.JPGArmstrong explains that Capt. John A. Sutter claimed rights to this land and deeded it to Eliab Grimes, Hiram Grimes and John Sinclair, even though Sutter didn't actually own it. The property passed through several owners before being subdivided and sold off.

The most famous owner was James Ben Ali Haggin, a rancher who raised sheep, cattle and world-renowned race horses. Haggin's great thoroughbred, Ben Ali, won the 1886 Kentucky Derby.

PHOTO CREDITS: Ben Ali, the Kentucky Derby winner, is immortalized as a statue in developer Paul Petrovich's newest public art contribution at the corner of Marconi and Eastern Avenues in Sacramento. 2009 Sacramento Bee photo by Anne Williams. James Ben Ali Haggin.

May 19, 2011
Experience the Civil War at Gibson Ranch

What: Civil War Experience
When: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Gibson Ranch Regional Park, 8556 Gibson Ranch Road, Elverta
How to get there: From Sacramento, take Interstate 5 north toward Woodland. Merge onto highway 99 toward Yuba City/ Marysville. Turn right onto West Elverta Road, then onto Gibson Ranch Road.
Cost: $7 for those 11 and older (parking included)
The organizers say: Lois Meidinger looked toward the rolling hills at Gibson Ranch and marveled at the flickering lamp inside a tent in a camp of "Confederate combatants."

On another day, battle-ready horses galloped through the ranch. Then poor citizens followed other soldiers, offering to do their laundry for money.

No detail is overlooked at the annual Civil War Experience. Hundreds of war buffs dressed in full garb - many of them with encyclopedic knowledge of the time - will convene at Gibson Ranch this weekend for three days of interactive history.

"We have to look back and be reminded of what we can't remember," said Meidinger, founder of the Civil War event at Gibson Ranch.

The event begins Friday for area schoolchildren, then opens to the public over the weekend with music, camp demonstrations, lessons on medical treatments of the time and seminars on guns and canons.

Meidinger said the ranch is ideal for the re-enactments because it reminds her of mid-Southern parts of the United States. The setting is a 150-acre ranch with horses and cattle and about 70 acres of rolling hills. The area also has a 9-acre lake and a creek. Native oaks are abundant as well. Participants can lounge on the grassy hills of the ranch during battles.

About 500 men and women and 40 horses will be part of the show. They stay in character - even when the battles are not ongoing - and answer visitors' questions.

"They don't leave out any detail," Meidinger said. "They are well schooled on the aspects of the war. It's all about entertainment and education."

-- Gamaliel Ortiz

May 19, 2011
American Sabor exhibit to debut at Central Library

sabor_preview_use.jpgThe Smithson Institution's highly anticipated new traveling exhibition, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, will debut at the Sacramento Public Library next week. The Central Library (828 I Street) was chosen as the inaugural location for the 2,500 ft. exhibit, which is currently going up and will be on display during the library's open hours from May 26, 2011, through August 7, 2011.

American Sabor highlights the musical contributions of U.S. Latinos and explores the profound influence of Latino artists and musical traditions from the 1940s to the present. Visitors will be treated to panel displays, guided listening stations, and even a fully operational juke box.  The exhibition is also complemented by an interactive website,, which includes historical photographs, lessons plans, video oral histories, playlists, and expanded exhibition content. 

The American Sabor experience was created by the Experience Music Project (EMP), and organized for travel through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).  Funding for its national tour and related programs is provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. From Sacramento the exhibition will travel to twelve other cities throughout the country and will be on display through 2015.

To learn more about the American Sabor exhibition, visit or

May 18, 2011
Get down in Fiddletown

Fiddletown.JPGEstablished by emigrants from Missouri, Fiddletown arose during the Gold Rush as a mining camp that evolved into a trading center for nearby miners and farmers. The town also attracted many Chinese merchants and miners who created a sizable community there. In its heyday, Fiddletown was home to 2,000 people.

Today the Fiddletown Preservation Society works hard to preserve its Gold Rush heritage with restored buildings including a school, saloon, and Chinese herb shop, general store and gambling hall. The Society also sponsors Living History Day, an opportunity for visitors to take a docent-led tour of the historic sites, listen to jazz and folk music, hear lectures on the Chinese experience, and learn how placer mining was done in a nearby creek.

What: Fiddletown Living History Day
Where: About 45 miles southeast of Sacramento off Hwy 49. See map.
When: May 21, begins 11:00 a.m.
More information: (209) 245-6042 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Elaine Zorbas, Vice-President of the Fiddletown Preservation Society, stands in a Chinese General Store in Fiddletown. 2009 Sacramento Bee photo by Lezlie Sterling.

May 17, 2011
The Crest Theatre's premiere

crest.JPGIf you're a fan of classic movie palaces, you'll appreciate "1949: Crest Theatre's Gala Premiere," a recent posting on the Eichlerific blog. Supplemented with vintage photos, advertisements, news clippings and video, the article describes the grand re-opening of the Crest on Oct. 6, 1949. The event was a huge deal for Sacramento, attracting more than 5,000 people including movie stars and prominent city and state officials. It's a nice bit of research and worth a look.

Eichler.JPGEichlerific, Eichler Homes in Sacramento is dedicated to the Mid-Century Modern single-family houses built in California by the Joseph Eichler company starting in the late 1940s. These bold, distinctive homes were inspired by modernist architects in particular Frank Lloyd Wright. The mission of the blog is to celebrate the legacy and historical context of these unique residences in the region.

PHOTO CREDITS: The Crest Theatre on K St. 2010 Sacramento Bee photo by Andy Alfaro. Interior of an Eichler home in South Land Park. 2004 Sacramento Bee photo by Owen Brewer.

May 16, 2011
It's frog jumping time!

frog jump.jpgSacramentans got a taste of amphibian fun at the recent 37th annual Capitol Jumping Frog Contest, won by "Unicorn" the GOP entrant.

But the main event happens this week: the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee. This four-day extravaganza is a full-blown agricultural fair featuring craft, food and livestock exhibits, entertainment, rodeo, carnival and, of course, frog jumping.

The practice of prodding frogs for sport goes back decades and is inspired by "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," a 1865 short story that brought much fame and national attention to Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. Clemens visited Angels Camp during his sojourn in California and Nevada described in the semi-autobiographical Roughing It.

MARK TWAIN.JPGIncidentally, in Chapter 56 of Roughing It Clemens rhapsodizes about the varying landscape, flora and climate as he travels from Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. Though he finds Sacramento's "Eternal Summer" a bit of a bore:

One never sees Summer-clothing or mosquitoes in San Francisco--but they can be found in Sacramento. Not always and unvaryingly, but about one hundred and forty-three months out of twelve years, perhaps. Flowers bloom there, always, the reader can easily believe--people suffer and sweat, and swear, morning, noon and night, and wear out their stanchest energies fanning themselves.

Clemens also spent time camping near Lake Tahoe (Chapter 22 and 23 of Roughing It). His description of that pristine setting:

We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.

The exact location of Clemens' lakeside camp is a matter of some controversy because of an effort to rename a section of the shoreline "Sam Clemens Cove." The Bee's Tom Knudson reported on Friday that a federal panel has rejected the idea.

What: Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee, "Pirates of the Carrots & Beans"
Where: 101 Frogtown Road, Angels Camps, CA
When: May 19-22
Cost: Buy discounted online e-tickets here
For more info: 209-736-2561 or

PHOTO CREDITS: Tim Marshall of San Jose urges his frog Heads Up to jump 17 feet, 3-3/4 inches at the Calaveras County Fair. 1982 Sacramento Bee photograph. Samuel Clemens in 1884. Courtesy The Mark Twain House, Hartford, Conn.

May 15, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Arthur Dudley

Born: Jan. 20, 1883
Died: Feb. 16, 1977

Known for: Often called "the father of McClellan Air Force Base," Arthur S. Dudley, as secretary-manager of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce for 23 years, was instrumental in establishing McClellan Field and reactivating Mather Field.

Background: A native of West Salem, Wis., Dudley in 1920 was hired by the local chamber. In 1932, the Army closed Mather Field despite his campaign to keep it open. Dudley testified several times before congressional committees on bills that affected Sacramento and the West Coast. On June 22, 1936, President Roosevelt signed a bill that paved the way for six bases to be built, including the Sacramento Air Depot. In 1941, the Army Air Corps reopened Mather as a flight training school and enlarged it by several thousand acres.

A highlight: With a one-time population of 24,000 workers and residents, McClellan was a critical link in the nation's defense from World War II through the Persian Gulf War. An elementary school is named for Dudley in the Antelope area of Sacramento.

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.

May 13, 2011
Stanford and Governor's Mansions slated for closure
gov mansion.JPG

The historic Leland Stanford Mansion and the Governor's Mansion are among 70 state parks targeted for closure because of the state's budget crisis.

Park officials say "the closures are necessary to achieve an $11 million reduction in the next fiscal year 2011/12, and $22 million in the following fiscal year 2012/13."

See today's Capitol Alert posting for a complete list of affected parks.

PHOTO CREDIT: The exterior of the historic Governor's Mansion in downtown Sacramento in 2006. Sacramento Bee photo by Randall Benton

May 13, 2011
Sacramento Public Library offers free genealogy help
Central Library.jpg

Throughout the year, the Sacramento Public Library offers a variety of free programs to assist family history enthusiasts with their research.  Supported by a strong genealogy research collection located on the 4th floor at the Central Library, these workshops and lectures are useful for directing genealogists toward a wealth of online and print resources.  Programs include Book a Genealogist workshops with one-on-one help to resolve roadblocks in family history research, lectures on a variety of topics given by genealogy specialists from Northern California, and computer classes covering online research.  

The next program in the lecture series is taking place this Sunday, May 15, and will cover the research of property records, including land grants, land claims, deeds, and homestead and patent records. 

What: Land Ahoy! Locating Property Records, a presentation by Genealogist Cath Madden Trindle
Where: West Meeting Room, Central Library (828 I Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814)
When: Sunday, May 15, 2011, 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: or (916) 264-2920

May 13, 2011
New journal discusses Sacramento's country music roots

At the start of spring, the University of California Press released a new arts, culture, and history-based publication called Boom: A Journal of California.

The first issue features several scholarly articles which address California's economic and social difficulties (titles include "How to Fix a Broken State" by Joe Matthews and Mark Paul, and "Race and the Mythology of California's Lost Paradise" by Daniel HoSang.) A music-related article by Jesse Drew, Associate Professor of Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, addresses something slightly different.

The article, titled "Country Music's California Heart," discusses the musical genre's reputation as an art form steeped in traditional or conservative values, and the ways in which those values may be at odds with California as a place of "nontraditional lifestyles, radical protest movements and a rejection of the status quo." In the article, Drew considers where California Country music fits into the vast political spectrum.

2001-x03-126.jpg"County Music's California Heart" features images obtained from the Center for Sacramento History and makes specific reference to longtime Sacramento resident Bob Wills, his western swing band, the Texas Playboys, and the bygone era of Wills Point (an entertainment venue located near today's I-80 off ramp to Auburn Boulevard.) Some Sac History Happenings readers may be surprised to know that country music has locally established roots...



Information regarding subscriptions to Boom: A Journal of California may be found at the following link: and details regarding Jesse Drew's current film project "Big Country: The Politics of Country Music" may be found through his website: 

IMAGE CREDIT: Postcard of Wills Point, Courtesy of the Center for Sacramento History, City of Sacramento Collection, 2001/x-03/0126

May 12, 2011
Railroad Museum, Old Sac seeking volunteers for summer

All aboard the Volunteer Express!

Both the California State Railroad Museum and Old Sacramento State Historic Park are looking for folks 18 and older to give of their time this summer sharing tales of California's railroading and Gold Rush past with tourists.

Applications are due May 31, and all volunteer candidates will be screened.

Orientation begins June 25.

Volunteers are expected to spend 84 hours a year "on the job." Hours are flexible.

To learn more about the program, call the Railroad Museum's volunteer training coordinator at (916) 324-7593 or go to

-- Dixie Reid

May 12, 2011
Disney/Pixar films featured in fine art collection

Pixar.jpgThe California State Railroad Museum will host the debut of a fine art collection inspired by the extraordinary films produced by Pixar Animation Studios. For one day only museum visitors will see how movies like Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo are interpreted by 12 artists, several of whom will be on-hand at the event to discuss and sign their works.

The showing is co-sponsored by Stage Nine Entertainment Store, the retailer selling prints from the collection.

News release

What: Disney Fine Art by Collectors Editions Presents The Pixar Collection Worldwide Debut
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: Sunday, May 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Cost: Complimentary with Museum admission
Museum admission -- $9 adults, $4 youths ages 6-17, free for children ages 5 and under
For more info:
916-445-6645 or

May 11, 2011
Hands on History at Marshall Gold Discovery Park

marshall.JPGMay 15 is the next Hands on History day at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Docents in period clothing will be on hand to demonstrate blacksmithing, gold panning, cooking with dutch ovens over an open fire and rope making. There will also be music and singing, children's games, tours of historic homes and talks about the Sutter sawmill and mining techniques.

The mission of the park is to preserve the site where the 1848 discovery of gold prompted the migration of thousands into California. At the nearby museum you can see artifacts from the Gold Rush, watch a film about Coloma and the 49ers, see a basket weaving demonstration and browse the hand-crafted gold jewelry, clothing, hats and books in the Mercantile store.

What: Hands on History
Where: Marshal Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Coloma (map)
When: Second Saturday of the month, 10-2 p.m.
For more information: call 530-295-2163 or

Park brochure

PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Veal of Cool, sits in the tent encampment during the annual 49er Family Day at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. 2004 Sacramento Bee photo by Brian Baer.

May 10, 2011
Fun and games at Sutter's Fort
SF Games.jpg

Sutter's Fort State Historical Park continues its Hands on History demonstration series with "Spring Has Sprung! Fun on the Frontier." This one will appeal to the kid in all of us, when the Fort's docents present the games and contests played by pioneers to lift morale during difficult times. Visitors will get to experience such activities as barrel hoop races, the game of Graces, tug-o'-war, jump rope, even marbles and parlor games. Vintage games and toys will also be on sale in the trade store.

What: Hands on History: Spring Has Sprung! Fun on the Frontier
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L Street, Sacramento
When: Saturday, May 14
Time: Fort hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cannon firing demonstrations: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $6.00 per adult (18 and older), $4.00 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under
For more information: call 916-445-4422 or visit

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Children playing "pioneer" games at Sutter's Fort. Photo courtesy of Sutter's Fort State Historic Park.

May 9, 2011
State Library's "Food for Thought" Program for May

This month's Food for Thought program at the California State Library will include refreshments and presentations on Scottish bagpipes, Highland dancing, and early edged weaponry by performers and experts from the Caledonian Club of Sacramento. Featured in this program will be bagpipe teacher and player Chuck Jamison (a big hit at last December's Food for Thought), dancers from the McKinney School of Scottish Highland Dance, and early weapons expert Dennis Elwell. Those in attendance are encouraged to ask questions and engage these experts and performers in lively discussion.

This upcoming Food for Thought program will take place on Wednesday, May 18 from 5:00 to 8:30 pm at the California State Library at 900 N Street in Sacramento. Doors open at 5 and the program begins at 6. Metered street parking is free after 6:00 pm, and the 8th & O light rail station is close by. Seating is limited, so please RSVP to Rebecca Ann Fontaine at 916-653-9942 or at if you plan to attend.



May 9, 2011
Old City Cemetery offers Friday the 13th twilight tours

City Cemetery.jpgThe 13th of this month happens to fall on a Friday, and what better way to spend the evening than on a twilight tour of Sacramento's historic Old City Cemetery?  Join Dr. Bob LaPerriere at the city cemetery for either of two tours (7:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.), and hear tales of mishaps, misfortunes, and misadventures.

What: Friday the 13th twilight tour
Where: Old City Cemetery (1000 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818)
When: May 13, 2011, 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $10.00 for adults; $5.00 for children under 12 years
For more information: (916) 264-7839 or (916) 448-0811;

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Edwin Bryant Crocker Family monument at Old City Cemetery, Sacramento Room Postcard Collection, BBSAC758.

May 8, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Hezekiah McClellan

McClellan.JPGBorn: May 1, 1894
Died: May 25, 1936

Known for: A U.S. Army aviation pioneer, Maj. Hezekiah McClellan died while testing a Consolidated PB-2A aircraft, which went into a spin and crashed near Centerville, Ohio. On Dec. 1, 1939, the War Department renamed the Sacramento Air Depot as McClellan Field in his honor.

Background: Born in Hall, Ill., McClellan attended Butler University in Indianapolis. In 1917, he enlisted in the aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and went to the University of California, Berkeley, to study military aeronautics. By 1934, McClellan had become one of the Army Air Corps' top pilots. The following year, he made the first landing of a military aircraft above the Arctic Circle at Point Barrow, Alaska. The Army promoted McClellan to major in September 1935.

A highlight: During a 38-day trip to Nome and Point Barrow, Alaska, in 1935, McClellan gathered information about the area from people living there, took many aerial and ground photographs and compiled charts and records about the Arctic that helped pilots who later flew there.

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.

May 6, 2011
Center for Sacramento History in need of woodworking volunteers

The Center for Sacramento History is in need of a few good volunteers-- especially those with experience in the art of woodworking. Currently, the Center has a small but mighty corp of assistants that help build museum display cases and related objects, all wiVolunteers.jpgth an aim towards history-related education. However, additonal assistance is greatly needed at this time. 

If you, or someone you know has carpentry skills and experience working with power tools and can set aside a four hour block once a week, staff at the Center would love to add new members to the team.

Volunteer applications may be found through the following link:

PHOTO CREDIT: Center for Sacramento History volunteers hard at work. Photograph by Rebecca Crowther.

May 5, 2011
Events at the Nevada County Fairgrounds

Nevada County Fairgrounds.bmpLocal history buffs will be interested in two upcoming events at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. On May 6 and 7 this facility will host the Old West Antique Show, which will feature a wide variety of items available from numerous dealers. This event will take place on Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and on Sunday from 9am to 4pm. For additional information call 530-272-3243. On Saturday, May 14, don't miss the 11th Annual Gold Rush Book Fair, which will offer a variety of collectible books from a wide range of sellers. The featured bookseller this year will be Rob Rulon-Miller of St. Paul, Minnesota. For addition information call 530-478-9441. Both of these events will feature items of local historical interest.

May 4, 2011
Take a walk, or two, through some fascinating neighborhoods

Put on your walking shoes and get to know some of Sacramento's most diverse neighborhoods up close this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, Sacramento will participate in Jane's Walk, a international series of free guided tours that honor the late urban activist Jane Jacobs.

The Sacramento Old City Association is coordinating the local effort, which showcases five neighborhoods - Alkali Flat, midtown Sacramento, Southside Park, Central Oak Park and downtown Sacramento - over two days.

Go on as many tours as you can fit into your schedule. No reservations are needed; simply show up at the designated starting point. For more information, call (916) 455-2935 or email


Alkali Flat
10 a.m.-noon
Starting point: Shine Coffee, 1400 E St.
Tour Guide: Luis Sumpter, Sacramento Old City Association board member

2-4 p.m.
Starting point: Mondo Bizarro, 1827 I St.
Tour Guide: William Burg, Sacramento Old City Association board member


Southside Park
10 a.m.-noon
Starting point: Callahan Bandstand at Southside Park, 7th and T streets
Tour guide: William Burg

Central Oak Park
10 a.m.-noon
Starting point: Guild Theater, 2828 35th St.
Tour guide: Neighborhood activist Tom Sumpter

Downtown: From the Railroad Tracks to the Civic Center
2-4 p.m.
Starting point: Sacramento City Hall, 915 I St.
Tour guide: Historic architect Melisa Gaudreau

-- Dixie Reid

May 2, 2011
Local students garner honors at California History Day

CHD.JPGAt this past weekend's state competition in San Jose, a Folsom student earned a place at the National History Day contest to be held at the University of Maryland next month. Three other Sacramento County students were runners up.

National History Day is a chance for young scholars to show off their research, analytical and writing skills in one of six media: as a 2-dimensional display, paper, exhibit, performance, documentary or web site. Students ranging in age from 4th to 12th grade pick a topic related to the annual theme, which this year is "Debate & Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences."

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who visited the state competition on Saturday, observed: "National History Day is a fantastic program. I experienced deep learning and bright students with wonderful creativity. This is the way to learn history, by making it come to life. As a teacher and history major, I was delighted with the excited projects produced by these motivated students."

The road to Maryland started in March at the Sacramento County History Day event held at Rosemont High School. Those who qualified were eligible to compete at the state finals in San Jose. Kudos to all who participated. And a special congratulations to Sierra Wentz of Vista del Lago High School in Folsom whose entry on Hetch Hetchy won the senior paper category.

Elementary Group 2-Dimensional Display, Runner-Up
The Hetch-Hetchy Debate: Yosemite's Beauty At Risk
Leigh F. Robinson & Delaney G. Roybal, Sutterville Elementary School

Junior Individual Exhibit, Runner-Up
The Rages of Shays Rebellion
Rhian Harris, Sam Brannan Middle School

Senior Paper, Champion
Temples in the Heart of Man: The Debate over the Highest Use of Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Legislation Involved
Sierra Wentz, Vista del Lago High School

Local news release
State news release

PHOTO CREDIT: A full day of competition continues in the exhibit hall as judges speak with students about their display boards in San Jose, April 29, 2011. Courtesy National History Day California.

May 2, 2011
Railroad Museum reaches its 30th birthday

No 8 RR015.jpgThe California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento reached a milestone today. On May 2, 1981 it opened its doors for the first time. Gov. Jerry Brown, dignitaries and a enthusiastic crowds were on hand to mark the occasion and see the vintage trains.

Historian Lance Armstrong of Valley Community Newspapers observed that the museum is celebrating two anniversaries this Spring: its groundbreaking on April 21, 1978, as well as its grand opening. He notes the continuing success of this massive three story, 100,000 square-foot facility which attracts some half million visitors every year. But this brick building is only part of a complex of historical attractions which also includes the Central Pacific passenger station and freight depot, the "Big Four Building," the Dingley Spice Mill Building and the 1849 Eagle Theatre.

Attached is a microfilm copy of The Bee's coverage of Opening Day festivities.

Brown RR013.jpg

Rocket RR014.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: (top) Locomotive No. 8 of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad arrives at the grand opening of the California State Railroad Museum. (middle) Gov. Jerry Brown addresses the crowd. (bottom) Rail fans view a working replica of England's historic Rocket locomotive. May 1981 Sacramento Bee photos by Morgan Ong.

May 1, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Don Doll

Don Doll.jpgBorn: Aug. 29, 1926
Died: Sept. 22, 2010

Known for: Grant High School athlete Don Doll was a four-time All-Pro defensive back with the Detroit Lions who intercepted 41 passes in his NFL career.

Background: Doll, known as Don Burnside during his prep career, was named Cal-Hi Sports' State Player of the Year for football as a quarterback in 1943. He is one of only four Sacramento-area players to earn that honor. He led the University of Southern California in rushing three times. His USC career was interrupted by World War II. He was named all-conference at USC in 1947 and 1948. He was a fourth-round selection in the 1949 National Football League draft for the Lions. He holds Detroit's record for interceptions in a season (12) and return yards (301). He was named most valuable player in the 1953 Pro Bowl game. He coached USC's football team in 1957 and 1958.

A highlight: On Oct. 23, 1949, Doll intercepted four passes in a 24-7 victory over the Chicago Cardinals, an NFL record he shares with 17 players.

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.

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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