Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

November 30, 2011
Time to prepare for National History Day

NHD.gifThanksgiving just passed, but it's not too early for young scholars to start preparing for next year's National History Day.

NHD is history's version of a science fair. Elementary and secondary students research and analyze a historical theme and present their findings in one of five formats: a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary or a web site. The projects are first presented at a regional competition (TBD). Local winners advance to the state contest (April 27-29 at the Riverside Convention Center). State finalists will attend the national event (June 10-14 at the University of Maryland).

The 2011-12 theme is Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History. Participating students choose a specific topic that illustrates the theme of radical or gradual change. The topic could be local, state, national or international in scope. It could be about a person or an event. The important thing is that the topic fit within the broad parameters of the theme. (See a list of sample topics broken down by grade level.)

Important links:
National History Day
California History Day
Sacramento County History Day

November 29, 2011
Bank of America reprises museum freebies

CrockerArt.JPGBank of America and Merrill Lynch continue the Museums on Us program which provides their customers with free admission to more than 150 cultural institutions in 87 cities across the nation. Two local attractions are featured: the California Museum and the Crocker Art Museum.

Participants must present a photo ID and a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit/debit card. The program excludes fundraisers, special exhibitions, and ticketed shows and is not intended to be combined with other offers.

What: Bank of America's Museums on Us
Where: California Museum (1020 O St.) and Crocker Art Museum (216 O St.)
When: Dec. 3 & 4, regular museum hours
Cost: free with valid photo identification and a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card.
For more info:

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: "Standing Man" a ceramic piece by Viola Frey on display at the "new" Crocker Art Museum. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Manny Crisostomo

November 28, 2011
Christmas Memories at the Governor's Mansion

GovernorsMansion.jpgThe first two Saturdays in December (Dec. 3rd and 10th, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.), the Governor's Mansion State Historic Park will welcome visitors of all ages to celebrate Christmases long, long ago with "Christmas Memories." The mansion will be decked in recreated period decor, and entertainment will include costumed storytellers, a visit by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and live music throughout the day.

Christmas Memories  Twins 12-8-07 071.jpgWhat: "Christmas Memories"
Where: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park (1526 H Street)
When: December 3 and 10, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: (916) 323-5916 and 

PHOTO CREDIT: Governor's Mansion, Sacramento, Cal. (1907). From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library. Twins enjoy a visit with Santa at the Mansion. 2007 photograph courtesy Governor's Mansion State Historic Park.

November 27, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Craig Chaquico

Chaquico.jpgBorn: Sept. 25, 1954

Known for: Craig Chaquico, who grew up in Carmichael, was lead guitarist for 16 years (1974-90) for the rock band Jefferson Starship (later named Starship) before becoming a successful artist in the smooth-jazz genre.

Background: Chaquico, the son of jazz musicians, attended La Sierra High School. At age 14, he joined a band with his English teacher, who had known members of Jefferson Airplane. Eventually Chaquico was asked to play guitar on some of Airplane alumni Paul Kantner and Grace Slick's solo albums. He then joined the Jefferson Starship, which included Kantner and Slick. On his 16th birthday, he completed his first recording session. By the time he was a freshman at American River College, he was touring with the group. Later, he was asked to join the band officially. He left the band in 1990 and began primarily playing acoustic guitar. Today he has a successful career on the New Age and smooth-jazz circuits.

A highlight: Chaquico's solo debut, "Acoustic Highway," topped Billboard's New Age charts. His follow-up album, "Acoustic Planet," was nominated for a Grammy in 1995

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.

November 24, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sac History Happenings wishes our readers a very happy Thanksgiving.

If you're curious as to what the gentry ate during the holiday in 1870s San Francisco, check out the vintage hotel dinner menus posted at the California Historical Society blog. They're taken from William Laird MacGregor's Hotels and Hotel Life at San Francisco, California, in 1876 (S.F. News Company, 1877).


IMAGE CREDIT: Thanksgiving menu from The Cosmopolitan Hotel (corner of Bush and Sansome Sts.), 1876.

November 23, 2011
Sacramento saloon ware is subject of lecture

Saloons flourished in the early years of Sacramento history. Out of that tavern culture came a variety of collectibles: signage, advertising, bottles, openers, trays, tip trays, and other exotic items. You can learn about and see some of these wares at the next Sacramento County Historical Society meeting. Long-time collector Steve Abbott will be on hand to show pieces  manufactured in the later 19th century up to Prohibition.

Abbott has written on Sacramento whiskey dealers George Wissemann and Michael Cronan, as well as Sacramento shot glasses and pre-Prohibition California whiskey registrations. He also produced a directory of early Sacramento whiskey dealers.

What: Sacramento Saloon Ware: A Rare & Varied Collection
Where: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Bldg, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento
When: Nov. 29, 7 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (916) 443-6265 or SCHS web site

November 22, 2011
Arts & Crafts Fair at the Indian Museum

Indian Museum Henecklaces4.jpgLooking for unique gifts this holiday season? Check out the Arts & Crafts Fair at the State Indian Museum this weekend. Meet native artisans from all over California and see their hand-crafted jewelry, basketry, pottery, hand-painted gourds, dolls, holiday ornaments and other special items.

What: Arts & Crafts Holiday Fair
Where: State Indian Museum, 2618 K St., Sacramento (on the grounds of Sutter's Fort)
When: Nov. 25 & 26, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $3 for adults, $2 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under
For more info: 916-324-0971 or

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy State Indian Museum

November 21, 2011
Small trains are a holiday attraction at the Railroad Museum

ToyTrainHoliday.JPGThe California State Railroad Museum launches the holiday season with special attractions this weekend.

Visitors of ages will delight in interpretive handcar ride, scale model and toy train layouts throughout the museum (including a Polar Express version), a scavenger hunt and a toy-train movie. Mrs. Santa Claus will be on hand to greet the kids and ell stories.

While you're visiting Old Sac, go see Santa at the nearby Eagle Theatre  from 2:30-8:30 p.m., Fri., Sat. and Sun. And check out the Old Sacramento Theatre of Lights show at 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., Thurs. through Sun. (See a video of the 2009 show.)

What: Small Train Holiday!
Where: California State Railroad Museum
When: Nov. 25 & 26, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $9 for adults; $4 youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under
For more info: Call 916-445-6645 or go to californiastaterailroadmuseum

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: As part of the Railroad Museum's "Train Time for Santa" event in 2003, modular (portable) toy train and scale model train layouts were on display throughout the Museum.

November 20, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Larry Bowa

BOWA.jpgBorn: Dec. 6, 1945

Known for: A McClatchy High School graduate, Larry Bowa was a five-time All-Star shortstop who played stellar defense in 16 years in the major leagues while collecting 2,191 hits. He also managed two teams.

Background: After being cut twice from the varsity squad at McClatchy High, Bowa played American Legion ball and became a workaholic at Sacramento City College. The fiery switch hitter was drafted in 1965 by the Philadelphia Phillies. During his career, he posted the highest lifetime fielding percentage for a shortstop. In his first three seasons, he made only 33 errors in 2,202 chances. In 1975, he became the first $100,000-a-year shortstop. Five years later, the Phillies won their only World Series championship. After his playing career, he managed the San Diego Padres (1987-88) and the Phillies (2001-2004), compiling a 418-435 record. This season, he is the third-base coach for the New York Yankees.

A highlight: Bowa led the major leagues in fielding six times, won two Gold Gloves and set a National League record for most games by a shortstop (2,222), playing 12 seasons for the Phillies, three for the Chicago Cubs and his final season for the Cubs and Mets.

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.

November 18, 2011
West Sacramento veterans honored in new exhibit

WestSacMuseum.JPGA new exhibit honors World War II veterans from East Yolo County (West Sacramento, Broderick and Bryte).

Sponsored by the West Sacramento Historical Society, this collection brings together photographs, memorabilia and other information on the men and women who served in the armed forces during that conflict. There's a photo gallery of the exhibits on the Society's web site.

What: Veterans of West Sacramento
Where: History Gallery, West Sacramento Community Center, 1075 West Capitol Ave.
When: Nov. 12 through June 2012. Center hours Mon-Thurs: 8 to 7:30 p.m., Fri: 8 to 5 p.m. Sat: 9 to 2 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-374-1849 or web site

PHOTO CREDIT: Guests look at the historical gallery during a preview party for the new West Sacramento Community Center in West Sacramento, which opened in October 2010. The Center features an art gallery, history gallery, childcare center, black box theatre, senior lounge, cafe and classrooms. 2009 Sacramento Bee photograph by Andy Alfaro

November 17, 2011
Christmas trains to run at Railtown

railtown xmas.JPGRailtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown (Tuolumne County) offers two Christmas-themed train excursions this year. Santa and his musical friends will accompany both 45-minute tours through the Sierra countryside.

Daytime rides feature "Roving Fiddler" Dave Rainwater. Evening rides feature caroling and entertainment by Ron Delacy, the jazz band Starlight Serenaders, Dave Rainwater and cowboy guitarist Keith Keenom.

Advanced tickets are strongly recommended as the holiday train rides are popular and sell out quickly.

What: "Santa's Starlight Express" Train Rides
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: Nov. 25 & 26, 5:30 & 7 p.m.
Cost: $24 for adults, $12 for youths ages 3-17, free for children two and under. Note: all train ride tickets include free Park admission.
For Tickets: 209-984-3953 or go to

What: "Santa By Daylight" Train Rides
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: Nov. 25, 26 & 27 and Dec. 17 & 18. Trains run hourly 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $13 for adults, $6 for youth ages 6-17, free for children five and under. Note: all train ride tickets include free Park admission.
For Tickets: 209-984-3953 or go to

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Jamestown station at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. 2005 Sacramento Bee photograph by Reed Parsell

November 16, 2011
A new beer with a historic Sacramento name is launched

BuffaloBrewery.JPGLocal historians know that beer-making was a big deal in Sacramento's past. And there is no name bigger in the city's brewing tradition than Frank Ruhstaller, a Swiss immigrant who co-founded the storied Buffalo Brewery.

A new beer with the Ruhstaller name officially launched at Mulvaney's B&L yesterday. As reported in Sacramento Press, J-E Paino created Ruhstaller 1881, a red ale made with California-grown hops, to honor the man and the local industry. 1881 refers to the year Ruhstaller started his own premium label.

"This particular beer isn't a historical recipe, but it's made in the spirit of what Ruhstaller did," brewmaster Peter Hoey explained to The Bee's Chris Macias back in August. "The reason he set up in Sacramento is that barley and hops used to grow here and there were excellent rail and water shipping lines. His whole thing was using local products."

Incidentally, the Buffalo Brewery plant stood at 21st and Q Sts. on the spot now occupied by The Sacramento Bee. The brewery closed in 1942 and the structure was dismantled in 1950. The current Bee building opened in 1952.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Buffalo Brewery circa 1920-1930. The photo was taken from the center of Q Street, looking at the northwest corner of the building. Print photographed by John Thomas.

November 16, 2011
The complicated history of the excavation of native remains

Former CSUS professor Tony Platt will lecture this Saturday on the mistreatment of Native American graves by scientists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He will explore the complicated history of excavation and subsequent repatriation of ancient Indian remains.

Dr. Platt is author of more than 150 essays and articles on race, inequality, and social justice, as well as ten books, including Grave Matters: Excavation California's Buried Past, a study focusing on the Yurok people and their struggle for cultural rights.

What: Lecture & Book Signing: Grave Matters: Excavating California's Buried Past
Where: State Indian Museum, 2618 K Street, Sacramento (on the grounds of Sutter's Fort)
When: Nov. 19, 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
For More: 916-324-0971 or

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Former CSUS professor Tony Platt. Courtesy State Indian Museum

November 15, 2011
Sutter's Fort Candle Light Tours

Candlelighttour.JPGOnce a year Sutter's Fort offers evening candlelight tours to show off the historic complex in a more intimate light.

Guides in period dress will show guests rooms for a glimpse into the private lives of pioneer families who migrated to California for a better life. You'll overhear family members discussing their fears, hopes and dreams for their new home.

What: Hands on History: Candle Light Tours!
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: Nov. 19, 2011, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: tickets $15. Can be purchased online.
For more info: Call 916-323-7626 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Previous Candle Light Tour at Sutter's Fort. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

November 14, 2011
California State Library News

csl.bmpThe November "Food For Thought: Thinking and Talking at the California State Library" program  will feature Master Paper Engineers and authors David A. Carter and Noelle Carter and their latest, Lots of Bots! - the first title in a new pop-up series by the creators of the hugely successful Bugs in a Box and One Red Dot series. David A. Carter learned the fine art of Paper-Engineering and Pop-Up bookmaking at Intervisual Communications Inc. working with creative director Jim Diaz and various other artists. While at I.C.I. he met his wife Noelle, who was a production artist learning the art of paper engineering with her father Tor Lokvig. David started his own business in 1987 and has created over 75 pop-up books. Lots of Bots! has been released with a companion app, Bot Garage for iPad®, iPhone®, and iPod touch®. A trailer for the app can be viewed at and at

The program will take place on Wednesday, November 16 at 6 p.m. at 900 N Street, in the California History Room. Light refreshments will be served when doors open at 5 p.m. Books will be available for purchase and authors signing at discount prices between $10 and $15 tax included. Children and children at heart of all ages' are encouraged to attend! For more information please contact Rebecca Ann Fontaine at or (916) 215-9280.

In addition, the California State Library Foundation's latest Bulletin is now available and can be viewed online at the Library's web site. It contains articles on the French culinary journal l'Art Culinare, prominent California historian and author JoAnn Levy, and an overview of some of the interesting public transit collections owned by the library. But since this is the 100th issue of the Bulletin, it also features a history of the publication itself, and a list of the many fine historians and writers who have contributed to it.

November 13, 2011
The closing of K Street, 1969

K Street.jpgWhen the K Street officially closed to traffic in December 1969, the occasion was celebrated with speeches, music and frivolity. So it's fitting that the reopening of the avenue to traffic Saturday was also marked with oration and fun.

The conversion of K Street into a pedestrian plaza was culmination of a 10-year battle to reverse the exodus of shoppers from downtown to the suburban stores. At the time the dedication of the space was considered a great milestone in the revival of the central city. A Bee editorial proclaimed:

The chief goals of the plaza have been accomplished. Private cars are swept off the mall, except at some intersections. Pedestrians are given an environment in which traffic will not harass them from becoming leisurely shoppers.

What is more the design of the plaza could turn out to offer a supreme value to any downtown, namely, an interesting diversity [sic] attracting people in ever enlarging numbers to the central business district. The keys to the design are compounded: Up-tilted concrete concrete quadrangles to be covered with vines, islands of quietude amid the heart of the city, grottoes of waterfalls inviting active pedestrian participation and trees and grass.

Oh well, some things don't work out the way they're first imagined.

See the attached 1969 dedication story and editorial reproduced from Bee microfilm. And enjoy this gallery of photos showing K Street through the decades.

PHOTO CREDIT: Kids play on K Street Mall's fountain structures, Dec. 3, 1969. Sacramento Bee photograph

November 13, 2011
In History's Spotlight: Joseph Folsom

Folsom.JPGBorn: May 19, 1817
Died: July 19, 1855

Known for: Joseph Folsom, with the help of railroad pioneer Theodore Judah, helped establish a town site near the Negro Bar mining spot on the American River that became the city named for him.

Background: A New Hampshire native, Folsom was an 1840 graduate of West Point. Capt. Folsom arrived in California in 1847 and became interested in capitalizing on the state's potential. He purchased several lots in San Francisco and became interested in the estate of William A. Leidesdorff. After a long fight to obtain the land, Folsom hired Judah to survey and lay out the town site to be called Granite City. Folsom and Judah's early plans included shops along Sutter Street and a railroad depot, before there were railroads in California.

A highlight: Three weeks after Folsom's death, the first rail was laid on the new Sacramento Valley Railroad. The first train completed the trip to Granite City, which was renamed Folsom, in February 1856. That same month town lots in Folsom were placed on the auction block. Most of the 2,048 lots sold the first day.

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.

November 12, 2011
Bay Bridge opened 75 years ago

Seventy-five years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in Washington signaling the official opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Some 300,000 spectators witness the dedication of what United Press called "the world's superlative engineering achievement."

Indeed, at 23,000 feet long (8-1/4 miles with approaches), the Bay Bridge dwarfed other great spans around the world. Costing $77 million (in 1936 dollars), the double-deck bridge took more than three years to build. At the time of its opening the upper deck was devoted to passenger vehicles, the lower deck to suburban trains.

A Bee editorial rhapsodized about the "massive and impressive structure:"

What influences on the future development of the bay district and of Superior California generally the bridge will set in motion today are speculative.

Some have one theory, others another.

But that they will work for progress and human comfort and convenience is certain.

And the bridge itself -- massive and yet simple, impressive but with a beauty that even a dullard can see -- is a monument to another great dream realized, a structure that will stand firm and strong long after all those who had a part in its construction have departed forever.

Men will come from all parts of the world to see and say to themselves: Titans must have walked this way.

See the attached Nov. 12, 1936 front page story and editorial reproduced from Bee microfilm. And the California Historical Society's blog posting linking to Opening Day memorabilia.

Bay Bridge 2.jpg Bay Bridge 1.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: Associated Press photographs taken a few days before the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Nov. 12, 1936. (top) One of the on-ramps, winding up from the waterfront at right and an off-ramp at left with the main incline in center. (bottom) A motorist's view of the great span when driving toward the great tunnel on Yerba Buena Island toward the Oakland shore.

November 10, 2011
Holocaust author to speak at two El Dorado County schools

pebble.jpgFor 30 years Marion Blumenthal Lazan has been speaking publicly about her and her family's experiences in the Holocaust. She comes to El Dorado County next week to give a first-person account of their arrest, imprisonment and liberation from Nazi concentration camps. Her two public talks (appropriate for people over 10) emphasize "tolerance towards others and the importance of positive thinking and inner strength to overcome adversity."

Lazan is co-author of Four Perfect Pebbles, the Blumenthal family's story of surviving the Holocaust.

The lectures are sponsored by the El Dorado County Library, El Dorado Adventist School, Rolling Hills Middle School, the Mountain Democrat, and other local organizations.

What: Marion Blumenthal Lazan, author, international speaker, and Holocaust survivor
When & Where: Nov. 14, 7 p.m., El Dorado Adventist School, 1900 Broadway, Placerville.
Nov. 15, 6:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Middle School, 7141 Silva Valley, El Dorado Hills.
$2 suggested donation
For more info: (530) 621‐5540 and

Event flyer

November 9, 2011
Get digging at Archaeology Activity Day

HistoryMuseum.jpgEver wonder how archaeologists uncover the secrets of the past? You can learn by doing at the first-ever family Archaeology Activity Day this Saturday in Old Sacramento.

Participants will work in groups of four on a "dig box," a mock excavation where they uncover, collect, and dissect artifacts just like the experts. Each box is different and will represent a different geographic area.

Digs last about two hours, starting at 10 a.m and 12 p.m. Only 10 boxes will be going at a time, so families and other groups are encouraged to reserve a spot in advance. (A few dig boxes will be held for walk-ins.)

What: Archaeology Activity Day
Where: Outside the Sacramento History Museum (inside if it rains), 101 I St. in Old Sacramento
When: Nov. 12, 10 to 2 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: Sign up in advance by calling (916) 808-7059 or emailing

November 8, 2011
Veterans Day history happenings

This Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day, and in celebration of the holiday, a number of Sacramento-area museums are offering special programs and free or discounted admission.  In addition, the city will host its inaugural City of Sacramento Veterans Day Parade, which will honor heroes past and present and will be followed by a festival on Capitol Mall.  Details for all of these Veterans Day history happenings are listed below.

What: City of Sacramento Veterans Day Parade and Festival
Where: Parade will travel north on 3rd Street to Capitol Mall, east on Capitol Mall, and then south on 9th Street, where the parade will disband; reviewing stand at 5th Street and Capitol Mall.
When: November 11, parade at 10 a.m. followed by festival at Capitol Mall from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
More info: Flyer with map; (916) 808-2344
California State Military Museum
What: California Veterans Week
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd Street, Sacramento
Cost: Free admission from Nov. 8 through Nov. 11; Special display on Nov. 11
More info: (916) 854-1904

Old City Cemetery
What: Medal of Honor Tour
When: November 12, 10:00 a.m.
Where: Old City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
Cost: Free
More info: (916) 264-7839

Aerospace Museum of California
What: Veterans Day Ceremony
Where: 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan
When: November 11, 9:00 - 5:00 p.m. (ceremony at 11 a.m.)
Cost: $5 general admission, free admission for veterans with ID
More info: (916) 643-3192

California Automobile Museum
What: Free admission for active and retired military
Where: 2200 Front Street, Sacramento
When: November 11

Sacramento History Museum
What: Free admission for military personnel and their families
Where: 101 I St., Old Sacramento
When: November 11
For more info: 916-808-7059

Old Sacramento Underground Tour
What: Discounted admission for military personnel and their families
Where: Meet at the Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St.
When: November 11, 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $13 for adults and $8 for children
For more info: 916-808-7059

November 7, 2011
A lecture on storytelling in the modern age

McHughJPG.JPGJoe McHugh -- author, audiographer, radio producer, musician, and conference speaker -- is a champion of storytelling. He has traveled across American collecting family yarns that have been featured on National Public Radio and Voice of America. (You can hear samples on his web site.)

McHugh will lecture in Sacramento this Wednesday on the importance of storytelling throughout the ages and how modern technology has both transformed and undermined the practice.

The program is sponsored by the Sacramento County Historical Society, SacArea History Network, SSVMS Museum of Medical History and MATRIXarts.

What: "Slaying the Gorgon," A Program on Storytelling in the Modern Age
Where: SSVMS Museum of Medical History, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento (1/2 mile north of H Street on 56th Street, which becomes Elvas).
When: Nov. 9, 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-570-3804 or American Family Stories

News release

November 6, 2011
National Register of Historic Places is more than pretty buildings

Sutter's Fort 2.JPGIn today's Bee Sam McManis explores the National Register of Historic Places, the coveted distinction granted to treasured sites deemed worthy of preservation. Administered by the National Park Service, the listing "is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources."

As McManis explains, not all NRHP sites are stately old buildings. Some are bridges, factories, ships and archeology mounds. Some aren't even visible, having been torn down, burned, submerged or buried.

The four-county region is home to over 100 designated sites. Many are concentrated in Sacramento's central city. You can browse the local list geographically with The Bee's interactive map. If you'd like search for U.S. historic places by name or location, check out the NRHP online database.

Just for the fun of it (and because newspapers love rankings) The Bee asked three local experts to help compile the "Top Ten Historic Sites" in the region. This was hardly a scientific survey. We just asked our judges to pick out ten items from the Register which are the most recognizable, interesting and visually striking. There was general agreement on several of the usual suspects: Old Sacramento, Memorial Auditorium, Tower Bridge, Locke Historic District, Sutter's Fort, Delta King, etc. You can see the finalists in this Sacbee photo gallery.

Many thanks to the following people for taking the time to assist The Bee with the NRHP story: Marcia Eymann, Sacramento City Historian; Roberta Deering, Senior Planner for  Historic Preservation, Sacramento Community Development Department; and Dr. Robin Datel, Professor and Chair, CSUS Geography Department.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sutter's Fort Central Building. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Manny Crisostomo

November 6, 2011
In History's Spotlight: William Alexander Liedesdorff

Leidesdorff.jpgBorn: Dec. 11, 1810
Died: May 18, 1848

Known for: William Alexander Liedesdorff was a debonair seafarer who became a business and civic leader in San Francisco before acquiring 35,000 acres in what is now Rancho Cordova and Folsom.

Background: The son of a white Danish planter and a black woman, Leidesdorf was born on the island of St. Croix. He earned a fortune through cotton speculation. In 1841, he sailed to San Francisco, where he owned a general store and opened the city's first hotel. Called "the first black millionaire," he also captained the first steamship in California. In 1844, he acquired a massive land grant from Mexico, which started at about the point where Bradshaw Road connects with the river. He operated it as a wheat farm and cattle ranch. After his death, his mother sold the land rights to Joseph Folsom for $75,000. A few months later, pioneers discovered gold in the region, raising the land's value to $1.5 million.

A highlight: In 2004, a stretch of Highway 50 from Bradshaw Road to the eastern Sacramento County line was named for Leidesdorff. In Folsom, the Sutter Street plaza and a residential road are named for him.

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.

November 2, 2011
Scan old family photos with a cell phone, send them to The Bee

Rudin.JPGHave you been putting off scanning your family's old photos? Digitizing prints with a conventional scanner can be a mind-numbing, laborious process. Now there's a new iPhone app that may make the job a little easier. (Android version to come.)

It's called Shoebox. It uses your phone's camera as a miniature scanner. You can shoot a snapshot and the software finds the edges and corrects the perspective. You can also manually crop, straighten, rotate, caption and tag the image.

I tested the app by scanning a 3x5 inch glossy picture of Anne Rudin with an iPhone 4 camera (right). The process is easy and quick, and the software automatically crops pretty well. But there can be glare from an indoor light source -- something that won't happen with a flatbed scanner.

Items scanned with Shoebox are saved in the cellphone and sent automatically to 1000memories, a free social media site where individuals and families can post pictures and organize them in timelines and family trees. You can also send pictures directly to Facebook.

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

Craig Family.JPGTake 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 uploaded some interesting examples from his 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".

PHOTO CREDITS: (top) Former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin in 1969 when she served as a City Council member. Sacramento Bee archives. The Craig Family, circa 1930s. Courtesy Scott R. Craig.

November 2, 2011
Amtrak celebrates 40th birthday in Old Sacramento

Amtrak.jpgAs part of its national tour, Amtrak's historical Exhibit Train comes to Old Sacramento this weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the passenger rail system.

Visitors to the Exhibit Train will see displays of all types of Amtrak memorabilia: photos, vintage advertising, old menus and dinnerware, period uniforms and more. In addition kids will enjoy the special children's activities at the nearby "Chuggington Depot."

Just on Saturday, there will be two showings Amtrak's 40th Anniversary Film inside the California State Railroad Museum.

What: Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train & Special Activities
Where: Old Sacramento State Historic Park (outside at the foot of I Street just beyond the Sacramento History Museum)
When: November 5-6. Exhibit train tours both days offered 10 to 4 p.m. Amtrak 40th Anniversary Film showings Saturday only at 11 and 3 p.m.
Cost: Free for public tours of the Exhibit Train and the "Chuggington Depot" activities. Regular admission fees apply for film showings inside the Railroad Museum ($9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under).
For more info: 916-445-6645 or and

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Undated Amtrak photograph of one of its trains moving through the western portion of the country. AP Photo

November 1, 2011
Corvettes on display at CAM car show

vette.jpgCar buffs of all ages can delight in six generations of Chevrolet Corvettes this Saturday at the "Vettes for Vets" car show sponsored by the California Automobile Museum and the Just for Corvettes car club. The event will benefit Northern California veteran's groups via sales of raffle tickets, vendors, veteran displays and music.

An exhibit of Corvettes will continue at the museum all through November.

What: Vettes for Vets Car Show
Where: California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St., Sacramento
When: Nov. 5, 10 to 3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: email and web site

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Bill Millard pops the hood on his 1954 Corvette during the California Auto Museum's Big Event on the Road. 2009 Sacramento Bee photograph by Cathy Locke

November 1, 2011
Holocaust exhibit at Sacramento State

The Courage to Remember, a free exhibition at Sacramento State's Anthropology Museum in Mendocino Hall, is set to come down in just a few days. Now through this Friday, November 4, visitors can view nearly 200 images on 40 posters which chart the course of the Holocaust.

According to a Sacramento State website, the display offers "new insights into the Holocaust and unfolds through four major themes: Nazi Germany, Moving Toward the "Final Solution", Annihilation in Nazi-occupied Europe, and Liberation."FeatNewsAuschwitz.jpg

The exhibit is quite powerful and gives its viewers the opportunity to reflect upon a dark time in history and the chance to consider its legacy.

The Courage to Remember is on exhibit until November 4. Sacramento State's Anthropology Museum is open from 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Friday and is located in Mendocino Hall on the CSUS campus. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy the CSUS website.

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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