Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

September 30, 2011
Reminder: Sacramento Archives Crawl is tomorrow

The first ever Sacramento Archives Crawl will give the general public a unique opportunity to view some very rare and interesting items during tomorrow's open house at four of the city's largest historical collections. People who visit the facilities will be treated to historic treasures from 21 Northern California institutions, as well as "behind-the-scenes" tours of archival storage and work areas.

I was privileged to attend a "media preview" of the Crawl at the Center for Sacramento History. Among the fascinating artifacts we were shown: papers of Nathaniel S. Colley, Sacramento's nationally known civil rights attorney; memorabilia documenting the 100th anniversary of the California's women's suffrage; a photographic exhibit from Sirlin Photography Studios featuring portraits of Sacramento leaders Pete Wilson, Willie Brown and Heather Fargo.

Puente boots.JPGFrom the collections vault: an eight-inch long grasshopper dating back more than 150 years; items from the Eleanor McClatchy collection including 19th century theater posters, rare books, publishing materials and a Gold Rush-era map of the region; police evidence and prosecution displays from the Dorothea Puente murder case.

Sacramento Archives Crawl is the kickoff event for the region's observance of American Archives Month. Libraries, museums, special collections all around the state will celebrate with a variety of events.

What: Explore History: Sacramento Archives Crawl
When: October 1, 2011, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: California State Archives (1020 'O' Street), California State Library (900 'N' Street), Center for Sacramento History (551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.) and Sacramento Room, Central Library (828 'I' Street)
Cost: Free
For more info:

PHOTO CREDITS: An eight-inch long grasshopper dating back more than 150 years which originated in the Isthmus of Panama. Rubber boots and digging tools belonging to convicted mass murderer Dorothea Puente. 2011 Sacramento Bee photographs by Lezlie Sterling.

September 30, 2011
Capradio's Insight visits the Governor's Mansion

Gov Mansion.JPGBroadcasting live from the Governor's Mansion, Insight (the KXJZ daily interview program) devoted last Tuesday's show to the state parks that are slated to close due to California's budget crunch.

Host Jeffrey Callison discussed the pending park closures and their implications with Director of the Department of State Parks, Ruth Coleman, and the District Superintendent for the Capital District of California State Parks, Catherine Taylor. He also spoke  with Bob and Debra Warren, the son and granddaughter of former governor Earl Warren, about prospects for keeping the Historic Governor's Mansion open.

Later Callison was led through a tour of the Mansion by long-time docent Albert Howenstein. A video recording of this part of the program is available on the Capradio web site. There you can also view vintage photos of the 1877 home, as well as images of other houses used as governor residences.

Bee columnist Dan Walters was also on hand to describe the homes, ranches, mansions and lofts that governors lived in since the Governor's Mansion stopped being the executive residence.

PHOTO CREDIT: Historic Governor's Mansion. 2006 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose Luis Villegas

September 29, 2011
Community leaders read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

TomSawyer.jpgA reminder that the online readings of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer begin today. You can see and hear community leaders read chapters from the Mark Twain classic on your computer. Access Sacramento and The Bee teamed up to produce the series. And every day from Sept. 29 through Oct. 31 you'll find new chapter texts and recordings.

Celebrity readers include McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt; Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell; KFBK news anchor Kitty O'Neal; novelist John Lescroart; Mayor Kevin Johnson; Public Library director Rivkah Sass; and Sactown magazine co-editor Elyssa Lee. Today's readings feature U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, Sacramento Society for the Blind Reader Abe Sass, Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar and Twain impersonator McAvoy Layne.

The videos supplement this year's Big Read / One Book Sacramento, the Public Library's annual city-wide literature appreciation program. The Library system will host 75 related events at 28 locations starting with the kick-off lecture tonight by Twain scholar and editor Michael Hirst

What: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. Robert Hirst of UC Berkeley, the editor-in-charge of "The Autobiography of Mark Twain." Also actor McAvoy Layne as the "Ghost of Mark Twain."
Where: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento.
When: Sept. 29, 6 p.m. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. The event is open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Cost: Free
For more info:  (916) 264-2920, (916) 321-1128,

September 28, 2011
A blogger's history lesson in Old Sacramento

mural.jpgSacramento Connect partner Jeremy Branham of the Budget Travel Adventures blog says his appreciation of history has grown since he began traveling. Every new place offers some insight into the past. That's especially true for his recent visit to Old Sacramento which is a virtual portal back to the Gold Rush and the Old West.

While strolling under Interstate 5 to get to K Street Mall, Branham was surprised to find a large mural chock-full of information on Sacramento history and the people who shaped the shaped the city.

This Historical Timeline of Sacramento was produced in 1999 by the Center for Sacramento History (then known as the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center) in collaboration with the Sacramento Downtown Development Group. According to Patricia Johnson, CSH Senior Archivist, the Center convened "a committee of men, women, local historians, and prominent members of the community representing a variety of ethnic groups to determine the individuals depicted on the wall." Mural portraits were then drawn by local artist Bob Miller.

The exhibit is intended to stand on its own, says Johnson, but people are encouraged to visit the Sacramento History Museum to further their knowledge.

PHOTO CREDIT: A portion of the Sacramento History Timeline mural underneath Interstate 5. See Budget Travel Adventures for more mural photos. Courtesy of Jeremy Branham

September 28, 2011
Colfax Railroad Days

colfax.JPGColfax Railroad Days is the annual opportunity for the town's historic district to strut its stuff.

This weekend visitors will be treated to a variety of lively activities. On Saturday there will be a plant sale, a model train display, a historic railroad film, quilt show, live music, a beer garden and more. The historic Western Pacific train (full size) will also be on hand for viewing.

On Sunday there will be a classic car show, a raffle and the same rail-related events downtown and at the depot. 

What: 2011 Colfax Railroad Days
Where: Historic Downtown Colfax (map)
When: Oct. 1 & 2, 9 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (530) 346-8888 or

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Historic downtown Colfax. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

September 27, 2011
Free museum admission for Bank of America card holders this weekend

Two Sacramento museums will have free admission for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders on Oct. 1 and 2.

The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts and the Crocker Art Museum are the two participating local museums and are open to participants during their regular weekend hours.

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are continuing with the 14th season of Museums on Us, a program that provides their cardholders with admission to more than 150 cultural institutions in 87 cities across the country for the full first weekend each month through Dec. 2011.

The program requires its participants to present valid photo identification and a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and is good for one admission fee. The program excludes events like fundraisers, special exhibitions, and ticketed shows and is not intended to be combined with other offers.

For more information, visit

-- Whitney Mountain

September 27, 2011
Celebrate California women's suffrage at the State Capitol, Auburn Courthouse
Thumbnail image for We Won the Vote 1911 -Sacramento Bee.jpg

Prior to passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote in 1920, California granted the same right to the state's women in the special election on Oct. 10, 2011. To celebrate that achievement, the State Capitol Museum will host a special exhibit celebrating 100 years of California suffrage.

Visitors to the Museum can gain a better understanding of the social and political struggle through interactive displays, historical photographs, period campaign materials, clothing worn during the campaign and oral histories.

What: We Won the Vote! 100 Years of Equal Suffrage in California exhibition
Where: California State Capitol Museum Rm. 105
When: Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2012. Museum hours 9 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: call 916-324-0333 or visit

News release

The Placer County Museums will also commemorate California women's suffrage this Saturday with a reenactment program on the Courthouse grounds in Auburn. There will be pro-suffrage speeches by Jennifer Montgomery, District 5 Supervisor, and Bridgette Powers, Auburn City Council member. Plus an anti-suffrage oration (be prepared to boo).

What: Rally for Women's Suffrage
Where: Historic Courthouse, 101 Maple St., Auburn
When: Oct. 1, 10 to 1 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 530-889-6500

IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee editorial cartoon.

September 26, 2011
First Annual Sacramento Archives Crawl coming October 1

California history buffs and archives enthusiasts alike can celebrate the first day of National Archives Month this Saturday, October 1, by participating in the first annual Sacramento Archives Crawl. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., twenty-two archives and special collections libraries from the Sacramento area and beyond will be celebrating National Archives Month by exhibiting rarely-seen historic treasures from their collections at four host locations in the downtown area (the California State Library, California State Archives, Center for Sacramento History and Sacramento Room at the Central Library).

Participants will pick up an Archives Crawl passport at their first location and then "crawl" among the others throughout the afternoon. At each location, visitors will be invited to view archival collections on display and take behind-the-scenes tours. Representatives from other archives and special collections libraries will also be on hand to discuss their archival collections - historic photographs, rare books, historic artifacts - and answer questions about how to connect with local history resources. Those who have their passports stamped by at least three of the host locations will receive a set of four limited-edition collectible coasters with images from Sacramento's former Buffalo Brewing Company.

What: Explore History: Sacramento Archives Crawl
When: October 1, 2011, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: California State Archives (1020 'O' Street), California State Library (900 'N' Street), Center for Sacramento History (551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.) and Sacramento Room, Central Library (828 'I' Street)
Cost: Free
For more info:

September 25, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Max Baer

Baer.JPGBorn: Feb. 11, 1909
Died: Nov. 21, 1959

Known for: Max Baer was a colorful heavyweight champ who made his home in Sacramento. Most probably know him as the father of Max Baer Jr., Jethro on "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Background: Nicknamed "Madcap Maxie" and the "Livermore Larupper," Baer beat Primo Carnera for the heavyweight crown in 1934 and lost it a year later to James J. Braddock. That bout was immortalized in "Cinderella Man," a depiction criticized for casting Baer as malicious and cruel. He, as the movie said, had dealt lethal blows to Frankie Campbell in the ring, but was haunted by his death. Outgoing and social, he also made movies. He rests at St. Mary's Mausoleum and a park bears his name in Sacramento.

A highlight: Baer proudly wore the Star of David on his trunks and beat Germany's Max Schmeling in 1933.

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.

September 23, 2011
Land Park tour features seven homes and a fire station

home.jpgThe Land Park neighborhood boasts many beautiful homes of varying ages and architectural styles.

At this years self-guided home tour, visitors will have the opportunity to examine seven unique houses, plus the vintage Fire Station 5 on Broadway.

Homes are located within five miles of each other. Guests may drive or bike to sites, and there is usually street parking available.

Ticket proceeds go to visual and performing arts programs at Land Park schools, as well as to help fund neighborhood beautification projects.

What: 2011 Land Park Home Tour
When: Sept. 25, 10 to 4 p.m.
Where: Ticket table is located at Plaza Cervantes Park, Freeport Blvd. and 10th Ave.
Cost: Advance tickets $20, $25 on Tour Day.
For more info: (916) 455-9941 or see the website for details on the homes and how to participate in the tour.

PHOTO CREDIT: 2201 9th Ave., built in 1931 in the area of Land Park then known as Spanish Town. Photograph by Bob Van Noy. Courtesy of Land Park Home Tour

September 23, 2011
Old City Cemetery tour honors early Sacramento teachers

SCHOOLHOUSE.JPGThe next in a series of historical tours at the Sacramento Old City Cemetery shines the spotlight on the early teachers who educated the children of Sacramento's pioneers. Knowledgeable docents will share the hardships and personal stories of those resourceful, dedicated men and women.

What: Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Early Educators Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento. Free parking available across from the 10th Street gate.
When: Sept. 24, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free. Donations appreciated.
For more info: (916) 264-7839 or (916) 448-8011 or email

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum. 1997 Sacramento Bee photograph by Kim D. Johnson

September 22, 2011
Galt Old Car Festival showcases vintage vehicles

oldcar.jpgAre you interested in old cars -- really old cars, built prior to 1943?

Then check out this Sunday's 24th Annual Galt Old Car Festival. Hosted by the Galt Area Historical Society, the event not only features classic autos but also trucks and motorcycles.

Besides the vehicle show, there will be food, live entertainment, a general store (selling jams and jellies) and a reenactment of 1920-30s living by the Sacramento Art Deco Society.

What: Galt Old Car Festival
Where: McFarland Living History Ranch, Galt
When: Sept. 25, 11 to 3 p.m.
For more info: 209-745-0951 or

PHOTO CREDIT: Galt Old Car Festival. Courtesy Galt Area Historical Society

September 21, 2011
New online library offers historic Sacramento city public records

Sacramento city officials have unveiled a new online collection containing more than 100,000 public records, including Meeting minutes, resolutions and city ordinances passed by the City Council going back to 1921. Other types of documents, such as building permits and board/commission minutes will eventually be added.

The City of Sacramento Records Library may be accessed via the Basic or Advanced Search interfaces. With simple search you just type in a word or phrase. The advanced search lets you modify keyword searching with date range, type of material (ordinance, resolution, etc) and legislative body (Council, Planning Commission, etc.). The records appear in PDF format.

This is certainly a useful resource for those researching neighborhood histories.

September 21, 2011
Book chronicles Mennonite's Gold Rush experiences

pamenn.jpgSunbury Press recently released the third edition of A Pennsylvania Mennonite and the California Gold Rush: The Journal and Letters of David Baer Hackman.

Hackman was a Mennonite from Lancaster County, Pa., who traveled by wagon to California in 1850 to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush. A talented writer, he vividly described life in the mining camps and boom towns (including Sacramento), as well as encounters with Indians, bears and the Big Trees of Calaveras County. Hackman later documented his trip home by steamship and overland through Panama.

A good primary source on the Gold Rush era, this new edition contains additional period illustrations, higher grade paper and a new cover.

A Pennsylvania Mennonite and the California Gold Rush: The Journal and Letters of David Baer Hackman
By Lawrence Knorr
List Price: $14.95
196 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.

September 20, 2011
Make tracks to Truckee for hikes and a tour of haunted sites

The alpine town of Truckee, a two-hour drive from Sacramento, continues to impress visitors with its restaurants, shops, art galleries, winetasting events and more. The latest:

It's the right season for a stroll in the woods, beginning with the annual guided Donner Party hikes (seven of them) and one walk, Oct. 8-9. The inaugural Summit Canyon hike, Oct. 8, is through terrain just recently opened to the public. Thirty hikers will be led along the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road, one of the oldest of the emigrant trails.

Register for guided hikes and the walk at or call (530) 587-8808. Space is limited. Early registration is $45 ($50 after Sept. 27), and includes a commemorative water bottle, barbecue lunch and an informative presentation. The Oct. 9 walking tour is $15, including admission to the Emigrant Trail Museum. A two-day packages is $60 ($65 after Sept. 27).

Strolls of a spookier kind are planned for Oct. 20-21 on the two-hour Historical Haunted Walking Tour.

You'll hear tales of unsolved mysteries, hauntings and manifestations, and learn about the colorful characters who made the bars and boarding houses of 1800s Truckee very edgy places. Get into the spirit by competing in the costume contest, featuring the attire of the era (1880 to 1920). Buy tickets ($30) at

-- Allen Pierleoni

September 20, 2011
44th California Native American Day honors elders

norton.JPGThis Thursday's celebration at the State Capitol honors elders who work to preserve Indian culture, language, stories and traditions. The event combines the annual Native American Day with the California State Indian Museum's Honored Elders Day for 2011.

Visitors will be treated to cultural demonstrations, guest speakers, the Tule River Color Guard, traditional games, music, dancing, artisans, and information booths. There will also be an update on the new California Indian Heritage Center project

What: 44th Native American Day Celebrating Honored Elders
Where: State Capitol, south steps (near 11th & N Streets).
When: Sept. 22, 10 to 2 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0971 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: A celebration honoring Bertha Norton on her 101st birthday at the California State Indian Museum. She was born in Wheatland, CA and is of Maidu and Wintun decent. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose M. Osorio.

September 19, 2011
California State Library "Food for Thought."

This month's California State Library "Food For Thought" event will feature Fulbright Scholar, art historian, and author Erika Esau. She will be presenting her newly published book Images of the Pacific Rim: Australia and California 1850-1935 (Power Publications, University of Sydney). Australia and California have shared aesthetic ideas through imported popular imagery for nearly two hundred years. Images of the Pacific Rim tells the fascinating story of aesthetic exchange between two "cultures on the periphery." Through photography, graphic art, architecture, and the ubiquitous eucalyptus, this book reveals the source elements of what became a 'Pacific Rim' aesthetic.

Erika Esau is a native Californian who spent more than a decade teaching art history at the Australian National University, Canberra. Her writings on Australian art and culture include the Blue Guide Australia (with George Boeck) and E.O. Hoppé's Australia (with Graham Howe). She was a Fellow at the Huntington Library, and currently works as librarian at the Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Images of the Pacific Rim will be available for purchase and signature for $50.00 including tax.

"Food for Thought" will take place this Wednesday, September 21, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. in the California History Room at the California State Library, 900 N Street, Sacramento. Light refreshments will be served, and the program will begin at 6 p.m.. Please RSVP to Rebecca Ann Fontaine at or at 916-215-9280.

September 19, 2011
Second annual "A Taste of History" at Sutter's Fort

On September 24, Slow Food Sacramento and the Friend's of Sutter's Fort will team up for the second annual "A Taste of History" event at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park.  Attendees will be treated to a four-course sit-down dinner of historic dishes recreated by some of Sacramento's top chefs in the Sutter's Fort kitchen, bakery and courtyard. In addition to a tasty meal made with locally-grown ingredients, the event will include music, hors d'oeuvres, wine and beer pairings, a silent auction and more.  Proceeds raised at the event will go to support the many educational programs offered throughout the year at Sutter's Fort. 

What: A Taste of History dinner
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 "L" Street
When: Sept. 24, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Cost: $75 - $85; Tickets can be purchased at
More info: (916) 323-7626,

September 18, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Raphael Saadiq

Saadiq.jpgBorn: May 14, 1966

Known for: Based in Sacramento in the '80s, Raphael Saadiq formed the R&B band Tony Toni Tone, which challenged punctuation purists everywhere (exclamation points? accent?). He also has a successful solo career as a singer, writer and producer.

Background: Born Raphael Wiggins in Oakland, he, his brother Dwayne Wiggins and cousin Timothy Christian formed the group Tony Toni Tone, debuting with "Little Walter" in 1988 and having hits with "It Never Rains (In Southern California)" and "Feels Good." Saadiq moved on and now works mostly out of Los Angeles, penning movie soundtrack singles, forming the R&B group Lucy Pearl, producing, and creating what he calls "gospeldelic" on the CD "Instant Village."

A highlight: In 2003, he was nominated for five Grammys, winning two for his songwriting.

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.

September 16, 2011
Lecture will focus on Sacramento's old streetcars, trolleys

Thumbnail image for streetcar.jpgLocal historian and preservationist William Burg will speak at the next Sacramento River Delta Historical Society general meeting on Sacramento's old street cars, trolleys, horse cars and other urban transit systems of the past.

Burg is a historian with the California State Parks Office of Historical Preservation and is author of the Arcadia volumes Sacramento Streetcars, Sacramento, and Sacramento's Southside Park, as well as other writings on the region's history.

What: Sacramento's Streetcars, Sacramento River Delta Historical Society General Meeting
Where: Jean Harvie Center 14273 River Road, Walnut Grove
When: Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
For more info: Tom at (916) 871-4060 or e-mail:

Program flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: View of two street cars abreast on J Street, intersection of 7th Street. McCurry Foto Co. (ca. 1924). Courtesy California History Room, California State Library.

September 15, 2011
Sacramento Fall Antiquarian Book Fair

The Sacramento Fall Antiquarian Book Fair will take place at the Scottish Rite Temple, 6151 H Street, this Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. Books, ephemera, and photographs on all subjects will be available, but at this event many of the dealers showcase their Western Americana materials, particularly those dealing with Sacramento and the Mother Lode.

Admission to the Book Fair is $5.00, but coupons entitling one to free admission are available in the California History Room at the State Library, and at other facilities around town. Further information is available at,, or by calling 916-849-9248.

September 15, 2011
Elk Grove Historical Society announces its first antique, craft show

EGHS logo1 sm.jpgGet a jump on Christmas shopping at this Saturday's antique and craft show sponsored by the Elk Grove Historical Society.

About 30 vendors are expected to display their wares, including antiques, collectibles, and handmade arts and crafts.

What: First Annual EGHS Antique and Craft Show
When: Sept. 17, 9 to 3 p.m.
Where: 8820 Elk Grove Blvd. (Cosumnes Communitiy Services District Parking Lot)
Cost: Free
For more info: contact Brookelea Lutton, 685-3368,

Show flyer

September 14, 2011
Home tour celebrates the Marshall School Neighborhood

SOCA Street Fair 2011 C.jpgSince 1975 the Sacramento Old City Association has offered tours of historic buildings in the Midtown and Downtown areas. This year's event honors the Marshall School Neighborhood with an inside look at seven homes in the Queen Anne, Craftsman and Neoclassic styles, plus the Eastern Star Temple.

Accompanying the Home Tour is a street fair at the park featuring local building contractors and artisans, artists, crafters, and advocacy and history groups. Live music will be performed by Tender Cinders, Garage Jazz Architects, The Freebadge Serenaders, and Emile Dalkey.

What: 36th Annual SOCA Home Tour and Street Fair
Where: Marshall Park, 27th and J Streets
When: Sept. 18, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Fair is free. Tour tickets are $25 day of event; $20 advance purchase. Buy tickets online.
For more info: 916-455-2935 or Sacramento Old City Association

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Sacramento Old City Association

September 13, 2011
Sutter's Fort celebrates Sacramento's agricultural bounty

Suters Fort peas.jpgBefore gold was discovered, John Sutter was building an agricultural empire with many cows, sheep, horses, mules and a huge wheat harvest on his land holdings. The invasion of prospectors ended that dream. But in the long run, Sutter's vision prevailed.

At the next Sutter's Fort "Hands on History" program visitors will engage in corn shucking contests, threshing, winnowing and grinding wheat and watch goat milking, spinning and weaving wool, lassoing and property branding.

What: Hands on History -- Harvest Time: The Real Gold in California
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L Street, Midtown, Sacramento
When: Sept. 17. 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: Special event pricing -- $6.00 per adult (18 and older), $4.00 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under
For more info: Call 916-445-4422 or visit

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Shelling peas at Sutter's Fort. Courtesy of Capital District State Museums and Historic Parks

September 12, 2011
Photo shoot and class at the Railroad Museum

csrm.jpgThis Saturday amateur photographers of all skill levels have a unique opportunity to shoot pictures inside the California State Railroad Museum before the facility opens. 

It's part of a two-part program that includes an optional existing light seminar on Friday that's led by former Bee photographer and Canon USA consultant Dave Henry.

Space is limited and advance registration is required.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Opportunity & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, corner of 2nd and I Sts. in Old Sacramento
When: Sept. 16 & 17. Friday - 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Photography Seminar). Saturday - 7 to 9:30 a.m. (Shooting Workshop)
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar, $35.00 per person shooting workshop or $60.00 per person for both.
For more info: or call 916-445-7373

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: California State Railroad Museum. 2003 Los Angeles Times photograph by Myung J. Chun

September 11, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Earl Desmond

desmond.jpgBorn: Aug. 26, 1895
Died: May 26, 1958

Known for: A Sacramento native and California state senator, Earl Desmond pushed through legislation to authorize Sacramento State College in 1947.

Background: The son of a police officer, Desmond attended Christian Brothers and Sacramento high schools. In his first year at Santa Clara University, he left to enlist in World War I. He earned his degree in 1932 from McGeorge School of Law. Two years later, he was elected to the state Assembly from Sacramento, and in 1944 was elected a state senator. His SB 1221 authorizing "a four-year institution of higher education" was passed and signed by Gov. Earl Warren in July 1947. The college originally shared quarters with Sacramento Junior College -- now Sacramento City College. A permanent site was chosen on the banks of the American River at 6000 J St., where classes started in February 1953.

A highlight: In 1991, the senator's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered for the dedication of a new CSUS residence hall named in his 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.

September 7, 2011
Unique Mexican War Letter Acquired by State Library

The California State Library recently acquired a letter from Mexican Minister of War Jose Maria Tornel y Mendivil to California Commissioners Andres Castillero, D. Manuel Castanares, and Jose Maria Castanares, dated July 25, 1846 after war had broken out between the United States and Mexico. It was ca2443 Tornel Letter Web.jpgwritten and sent from Mexico City and urged its recipients to defend California, telling them that "in case the Territory of California should be invaded by forces of the United States, you are authorized to use all resources to defend her with all your patriotism, keeping in mind the importance of the National Integrity."

What makes this letter remarkable is that it provides the first evidence that Mexico tried to keep California from falling into the hands of the U. S. (as well as the revolts led by local Californios). No copies of this letter or its text exist in other libraries, nor are there any other known letters ordering the defense of California.

Tornel's dates of birth and death are not known for certain, but he came from Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico and became a Mexican Army general and a politician. For most of his career he allied with Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

September 6, 2011
Nevada City Constitution Day Parade

NC.bmpNevada City Annual Constitution Day Parade will culminate a weekend of festivities, taking place September 10th and 11th, celebrating our nation's most important document. Among the scheduled events are Civil War battle reenactments, the Gold Country Duck Race, and a free outdoor big band concert. The parade itself, which begins Sunday at 2 p.m., will feature marching bands, floats, antique autos, equestrians, the Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band, and the Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City. This last named group will showcase each United States President marching arm in arm with his First Lady, accompanied by Secret Service agents and volunteers.

  For further information on this weekend's schedule of events in Nevada City, click:

September 6, 2011
Mather airshow a treat for history buffs

The California Capital Airshow is a huge two-day program packed with aerial demonstrations and ground exhibits that showcase an array of military and civilian aircraft. Two events will certainly interest the aviation history buff.

The Air Force Heritage Flight honors American airman and aircraft of the past with performances featuring vintage warbirds from WWII, Korea and Vietnam eras in formation with contemporary fighter/attack planes. The Heritage Flights began in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. This year's Sacramento show will pair a P-51 Mustang with a F-15E Strike Eagle.

Thumbnail image for Tora.jpgTora! Tora! Tora! is a large-scale reenactment of the 1941 Japanese air strike on Pearl Harbor. Produced by a volunteer team of ground crew, maintenance, pilot and pyrotechnic experts, the show features replicas of Japanese bomber and fighter planes simulating the attack. Smoke, fire and explosions make the experience all the more real. A professional announcer explains the action and the history behind the performance.

What: California Capital Airshow
Where: Mather Airport, 3745 Whitehead St., Mather, Calif.
When: Sept. 10-11, 9 to 5 p.m.
Cost: General admission, adults 13+ $15, children 6-12 $10, children under 5 free. Parking $10.
For more info: (916) 876-7568 or web site

PHOTO CREDITS: P-51, courtesy Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation. Pearl Harbor attack reenactment, courtesy Commemorative Air Force.

September 5, 2011
Admission Day celebration at State Capitol

Stained Glass Great SealThe California State Capitol Museum and California State Capitol Museum Volunteer Association invite Californians to celebrate the state's 161st birthday on Friday, September 9, 2011, at the north entrance steps of the State Capitol.  Festivities will include music by the Sacramento Banjo Band, cake and ice cream served by members of the Capitol Museum Volunteer Association, and a presentation of the colors by the Armed Forces Color/Honor Guard.

What: California's Admission Day celebration
Where: North entrance steps (L Street) at State Capitol (10th and L Streets)
When: September 9, 2011, 11:30 a.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: 916-324-0333

IMAGE CREDIT: Stained glass representation of The Great Seal of the State of California (1907) in the ceiling of the hallway leading from the Capitol rotunda. Courtesy California State Capitol Museum.

September 5, 2011
Woodland to show off its historic homes

Gable Mansion.JPGThere's an abundance of vintage homes and other sites in Woodland. And this Saturday the town will show off its historic heritage during its 23rd annual Stroll through History.

Visitors will have the opportunity to examine the Victorians and other houses during several guided open house, bus, bicycle and walking tours. Maps will be available for self-guided tours in the historic downtown district.

This years events include celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Woodland Train Depot (under restoration). The Depot will be open for free tours during Stroll Day.

Rounding out the festival will be entertainment, a vendor fair and food offerings on Main Street.

What: Woodland Stroll Through History
Where: Tour tickets and information at Heritage Plaza, 2nd and Main Sts. in front of the Opera House
When: Sept. 10, 8:30 to 4 p.m.
Cost: Bus tour $15. Open homes tour $25. Guided walking and bike tours are free.
For more info: Event contacts or web site

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Woodland's Gable Mansion, built in 1885. Photograph by Jeff Barrow
September 4, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Ronald Reagan

Born: Feb. 6, 1911
Died: June 5, 2004

Known for: Ronald Reagan was a two-term U.S. president and the 33rd governor of California.

Background: Raised in Illinois, Reagan became a sportscaster, movie star and president of the Screen Actors Guild before entering politics. During his eight years in the state Capitol, he had to deal with a Democrat-dominated Legislature most of the time. He could never accomplish a conservative makeover of state government, but he did become a national political star. After failing in a challenge to President Ford in 1976, he won the GOP presidential nomination in 1980 and unseated Jimmy Carter. At age 69, he was the oldest man ever elected president. Known as the "great communicator," he hastened the end of the Cold War and brought renewed optimism to the nation. He left office in 1989 with the highest popularity rating of any retiring president in history and returned to California, his adopted state.

A highlight: Washington National Airport was renamed for him in 1998 and the USS Ronald Reagan was christened by former first lady Nancy Reagan and the U.S. Navy in 2001.

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.

September 1, 2011
Rail Museum debuts sketches of California train depots

San Carl SP LoRes.jpgIn the 1970s when artist Walter J. Wedlock realized that California's historic railroad stations were being demolished, he rushed to preserve them in a series of on-the-spot ink sketches. His 52 drawings depict a variety of architectural styles used in depots built mostly between 1880 and 1939.

San Juan Cap SF LoRes.jpgWedlock donated the collection to the California State Railroad Museum which today unveils 26 of the sketches in a new exhibit. Now the public can see how the artist captured the unique character of structures so central to their communities in years gone by.

What: Wedlock's Gift: California Railroad Depot Images In Ink
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: First set of 26 sketches, Sept. 1 thru Feb. 2012. Second set of 26 sketches, Aug. thru Dec. 2012.
Cost: $9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under
For More: 916-445-6645 or visit

News Release

IMAGE CREDITS: Walter J. Wedlock ink sketches of depots at San Carlos (top) and San Juan Capistrano. 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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