Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

April 30, 2012
Congratulations to the California History Day Finalists

DS HISTORY JUDGING.JPGNational History Day is a year-long competition in the area of historical research, writing and analysis (sort of history's equivalent of a science fair for primary and secondary school students around the country). Contestants who qualified at the regional level went on to compete at this past weekend's state gathering in Riverside where winners were chosen for the national competition coming up in Maryland June 10-14.

This year's NHD theme is Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History. Students chose a related event from local, state, national or world history and presented their research in one of six formats: 2-D display, documentary video, exhibit, paper, performance or website.

Valarie Okamoto, a student at Spring View Middle School in Rocklin, earned co-champion honors in the Junior Individual Exhibit category. Her entry was entitled There's No Crying in Baseball: The History of the All‐American Girls Professional Baseball League. Andrew Kambe, also of Spring View Middle School, was runner-up in that same category for his exhibit, The Berlin Wall: A Wall Dividing a Country. Both students were coached by Spring View teacher Lynne Meiers.

Congratulations to all the students from the region who participated in California History Day!

PHOTO CREDIT: Tien Pham and Lisa Mayorga, 10th graders at Florin High School, listen to judges' questions, appraisal and commentary about their exhibit, Medical Miracles and the Heart, during Sacramento History Day. 1999 Sacramento Bee photograph by Dick Schmidt.

April 30, 2012
Rail museum hosts photography seminar and workshop

Trains & Tripods4.jpgWith the usual crowds it's normally difficult to photograph the amazing exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum. But amateur shooters will have a chance to snap the trains before the facility opens this Saturday.

It's all part of a weekend photography event, which includes an optional lighting class on Friday conducted by former Sacramento Bee photographer Dave Henry.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Workshop & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, corner of 2nd and I Sts. in Old Sacramento
When: May 4 and 5. Friday Photography Seminar - 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday Shooting Workshop - 7 to 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar, $35.00 per person Saturday shooting workshop or $60.00 for both. Space is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is required.
For more info: 916-445-7373 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Photographers line up their shots at a previous Trains & Tripod weekend. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

April 29, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Guy West

GUY WEST.JPGBorn: April 15, 1898
Died: July 12, 1983

Known for: Guy West was the first president of what became California State University, Sacramento, when the school opened in 1947. He served until 1965.

Background: An Arkansas native, West taught and was an administrator at New Mexico Western College before moving to college in Chico in 1933. There, he was professor, director of research, registrar and dean. In 1947, West was appointed president of then-Sacramento State College. The college shared space with Sacramento Junior (now Community) College until 1953, when classes began on the present east Sacramento site. During his tenure, the campus's buildings and athletic fields took shape, and enrollment increased from 235 in 1947 to 6,282 in the 1964-65 academic year. Enrollment during the 2006-07 academic year reached 28,529.

A highlight: Besides CSUS, the president's legacy lives on with the Guy West Bridge, which opened in 1967 for pedestrians and is modeled after the Golden Gate Bridge. It connects the campus with what is now the Campus Commons neighborhood.

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

April 27, 2012
South Yuba River covered bridge is 150 years old

SOUTH YUBA BRIDGEPORT.JPGThe longest single-span covered bridge still in existence in the United States is nearby on the South Yuba River. And it's turning 150 years old.

You can help celebrate this historic birthday at Sunday's festivities. It's a family-friendly event where visitors will be treated to music, games, wagon rides, tours of the vintage barn and gas station and historical reenactments.

The iconic Bridgeport Bridge was built at the height of 19th century mining activity by turnpike patriarch David Ingerfield Wood. A remarkable feat of engineering, the 243-long structure rests on two huge Douglas fir pieces secured in massive granite abutments at either end. The bridge's history and design, plus profiles of its founders are covered in an extensive article and timeline posted on the Grass Valley Union's web site.

What:  Birthday Celebration for the Bridgeport Covered Bridge and Barn
Where: South Yuba River State Park (directions and map)
When: April 29, 11 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 530-432-2546 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: The historic wooden bridge, built in 1862 to span the south fork of the Yuba River, is located at South Yuba River State Park. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Chris Crewell

April 27, 2012
Folsom group seeks to transform home into a museum

Chan House rendering.jpgHistoric redevelopment is flourishing in Folsom. Recently the city celebrated the opening of an amphitheater and public plaza that comprise the centerpiece of the ambitious Historic Folsom Station project.

But Folsom Station isn't the only historical effort currently underway. The Folsom Historical Society and the Heritage Preservation League of Folsom have been working to save from demolition a 1910 home that's one of last vestiges of the town's Chinese heritage.

Chan House (917 Sutter St.) was once home to Oak Chan, considered the first mayor of Folsom's Chinatown, the second largest Chinese community in California in the 1880s. The Chan family lived in the residence until 1971. Now preservationists want to restore the house and transform it into a museum to display local Chinese artifacts and commemorate the role Asian immigrants played in the development of the region and state.

The partnership aims to raise $300,000 to purchase and convert the property. You can help by making a donation to the Heritage Preservation League, Chan House Fund, c/o the Folsom Historical Society, 823 Sutter St., Folsom CA 95630.

For more information, call (916) 985-2707 or email: Candy Miller,, Barbara Leary, or Jeff Ferreira-Pro,

IMAGE CREDIT: Artist rendering of the proposed Howard Sr. and Mabel Chan House Museum. Courtesy Folsom Historical Society

April 26, 2012
This Week in History, Marysville style

Appeal Democrat.JPGA mainstay of community journalism, many newspapers run historical columns summarizing news stories from decades gone by. These generally spotlight items from past editions that are published at milestone intervals (25, 50, years ago, etc.). The availability of microfilm copies of the paper make these tidbits easy to find.

If you're interested in Yuba and Sutter County history, check out This Week in Local History, the Marysville Appeal-Democrat timeline feature. Each column references news stories from five, ten, 25, 50 and 100 years in the past, drawing on precursor papers the Marysville Appeal (founded 1860) and Marysville Evening Democrat (founded 1884). You can find past columns on the paper's web site.

The latest item from ten years ago concerned the brisk sale of the Sacramento Kings bobblehead dolls in town. Apparently the debut of last player doll -- Scot Pollard -- brought long lines of buyers to two Marysville-Yuba City Carl's Jr. restaurants. You have to wonder if Kings bobbleheads would generate even a quarter of the interest today.

Incidentally The Associated Press produces its own Today in History that is national and international in scope. You can browse about a year's worth on They include those celebrity birthdays you see on page A2 of The Bee.

PHOTO CREDIT: A section of The Appeal-Democrat from Dec. 1955 displaying the devastating flood that almost inundated Marysville. Courtesy Jerry Matthews

April 25, 2012
Dancing Tractors? Only in Oregon House

Vintage tractor lovers -- and we know you're out there plowing away -- can travel a bumpy road over to Oregon House, in Yuba County, on May 5-6 for the eighth annual Vintage Tractor Days.

The event takes place at the aptly-named Eventful Acres farm at 9594 Yuba Ranch Way and is free (though a $5 donation is requested).

Among the events: tractor games, parades and driving competitions.

Then there's tractor dancing. We'll let the event organizer, Janet Marchant, describe this activity:

Dancing tractors? That's right, a team of expert drivers, calling themselves the Exhibitionists, will perform choreographed moves and patterns to square dance and quadrille tunes including John Deere Green, Grandpa, and International Harvester. This not-to-be-missed event is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturday, right before the drawing of the winning ticket for the now famous Pink Tractor which has raised some $20,000 to be shared 50-50 between the American Cancer Society and the Community Center.

More information here.

-- Sam McManis

April 25, 2012
I Street Bridge anniversary honored in photo exhibit

I Street Bridge 1949 - Frank  Christy Collection 1998-722-241.jpgBuilt in 1911 and opened to traffic in 1912, the I Street Bridge will be honored in a new photo exhibit at the Sacramento History Museum.

According to a 2011 Bee article, the current structure is the fifth bridge at that location. Not as glamorous as the Tower Bridge, the steel truss I Street Bridge was solidly built and has marveled engineers by carrying trains every day for almost a century.

What: Sacramento's I Street Bridge -- Photo Display
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: April 28 thru Dec. 31. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults; $4 for youth ages 6-17; free for children five and under
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website.

News release
2011 Bee story about the I St. Bridge

PHOTO CREDIT: I Street Bridge in 1949. Frank Christy Collection. Courtesy Center for Sacramento History

April 24, 2012
Adults-only Underground Sacramento tour

RB Bordello 1.JPGUPDATE (4/25/12): Tickets have sold out for this event, however another evening tour is scheduled for June 7 at 6 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets on the HOSF website.

The Old Sacramento Foundation observes 2012 Obscura Day (the International Celebration of Unusual Places) with an "adults-only" version of its popular Underground Tours. Led by period guide Miss Odessa, this 90-minute evening tour "explores some of the dark secrets and racy tales lurking in Sacramento's underground history."

Underground tours in Old Sacramento honor the amazing 19th century street-raising effort that protected the city from floods and produced the excavated foundations and enclosed pathways we have today. Guests should be ready to walk in spaces with uneven surfaces and low ceilings.

What: Adults-Only Underground Tour -- One Night Only!
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: April 28, 2012, 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Cost: $20 (only guests 18 and older will be admitted). Advance online tickets available now.
For more info: 916-808-7059 or or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Visitors begin a tour of what was once a bordello in Old Sacramento. An underground tour of Old Sacramento has added a new stop to its dusty route: a bordello, later turned into a grocery store, that stands well preserved more than a century after its heyday. 2011 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randall Benton

April 23, 2012
Railtown wildflower train rides again

WildflowerTrain.JPGWhat could be better than a train ride behind the "movie star" steam locomotive to see wildflowers in the Sierra foothills?

Those lucky enough to join this special once-a-year excursion will be treated to a six-mile, one-hour ride through the scenic meadows and rolling hills filled with "meadow foam," "gold fields" and other flowers typically in bloom.

The usual Railtown 1897 train rides also be offered this weekend. Seating is limited, so reservations for all rides are recommended.

What: Special Wildflower Train Ride
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: April 28 at 4:30 p.m. Wildflower orientation at 4 p.m.
Cost: $21 adults, $10 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more information: 209-984-4408 or visit

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

April 22, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Joe Carnahan

Joe carnahan.JPGBorn: May 9, 1969

Known for: Sacramento-based director and screenwriter Joe Carnahan has gained acclaim for his movies, including "Smokin' Aces" and "Narc."

Background: A Delaware native who grew up in Detroit, Carnahan moved to Sacramento and took a job in the promotions department at Channel 31. He made short films before completing the independent movie, "Blood Guts Bullets and Octane," which was filmed in and around Sacramento and shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. His breakthrough came in 2002, with the edgy, violent drama "Narc" starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patric. The film, which cost $2 million to make, earned raves at the Sundance Festival. Most recently, he directed "Smokin' Aces," with an ensemble cast featuring Jeremy Piven.

A highlight: "Narc" was a finalist for Sundance's prestigious Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. A filmmaker with an independent streak, Carnahan told The Bee in 2002: "I'll never leave Sacramento. I find it difficult to work in Los Angeles. ... I do what I want to do. I don't answer to some studio flack. I'd rather make small movies about a couple of people than some big blockbuster."

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

April 20, 2012
Fundraiser planned for historic Eastern Star Hall

Eastern Star Hall.jpgOn Saturday, April 28, the Eastern Star Hall Committee, in conjunction with the Midtown Neighborhood Association, Capital City Preservation Trust and Sacramento Old City Association, will host an evening of music and dancing to raise money for the preservation of Eastern Star Hall at 2719 K Street.  Master of Ceremonies Matias Bombal will introduce the evening, and music will be provided by Mumbo Gumbo and the Freebadge Serenaders. In addition to drinks and appetizers, guests will have the opportunity to take part in a prize raffle. 

The three-story Order of the Eastern Star Hall was constructed in 1928 by the local firm of Coffman Sahlberg Stafford Architects & Engineering, and is considered a fine example of the Romanesque Revival style.  The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 both for its architectural qualities and its role in the social history of the community.

What: Eastern Star Hall Fundraiser
Where: Eastern Star Hall, 2719 K Street, Sacramento
When: Saturday, April 28, 7:00 p.m. to Midnight
Cost: $25 tickets in advance ( or $30 at the door
For more info:

IMAGE CREDIT: Eastern Star Building, Sacramento, Calif. From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

April 19, 2012
Panelists to explore the history of theater in Sacramento

Michael Kermoyan.JPGNext Tuesday, the Sacramento County Historical Society will present a panel discussion exploring the history of theater in the region.

SCHS Board member Maryellen Burns will introduce the panelists: Ray Tatar of The California Stage, Larry Shumate, CSUS professor emeritus of theater, James Wheatley of Celebration Arts and Melanie Smith, former Theater Arts instructor at American River College and longtime theater director and choreographer. They'll be joined by Dick Baldwin, formerly with JayRob Theatre and Larry Shumate, CSUS theatre alumnus.

What: From Burlesque to B Street: the History of Sacramento Theater
Where: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento
When: April 24, 7 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-443-6265 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Kermoyan, who started in the Music Circus as a member of the chorus in the 1950s, returned in 1968 as a star in the leading role of Emile De Becque in South Pacific.

April 18, 2012
Yolo County seeks vets for honorary diplomas

INTERNEES.JPGThe Yolo County Office of Education is again seeking Japanese-American veterans whose high school education was interrupted by internment during World War II. As allowed by state SB 1517, YCOE grants honorary diplomas to WII, Korea and Vietnam vets who resided in the county during these wars and who would have graduated had it not been for the evacuation.

The application for the diploma must be received by May 17 to participate in the May 24 diploma ceremony. To request an application, please contact Patti Robles, 530-668-3755, or Gayle McLevich, 530-668-3710,

Families may apply for diplomas posthumously.

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: 78-year-old Akira Iwatsuru holds the high school diploma he received in 2002 from Sacramento County Office of Education's Operation Recognition program. Iwatsuru was a student at Elk Grove High School when he was removed from school and interred at the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas. He later joined the army as an internee and was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II. 2003 Sacramento Bee photograph by John Decker

April 18, 2012
Living gubernatorial history at the State Capitol

CM Governors Day.jpgThe issues that preoccupied California's turn-of-the-century governors are the focus of this year's Governor's Day "Living History" reenactments at the State Capitol. Museum docents in period dress will portray Governors Henry Gage, George Pardee, James Gillett and Hiram Johnson and their wives. They'll discuss events that most affected their administrations (1899-1917), such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and Southern Pacific abuses.

What: Governor's Day (Living History)
Where: State Capitol Museum, 10th and L Sts., Sacramento
When: April 22, 10:30 to 3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0333 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy the California State Capitol Museum

April 17, 2012
Artisan sales at Sutter's Fort/Indian Museum

SF trader's faire 2008 010.jpgIt's two artisan sales in one! Sutter's Fort and the State Indian Museum are again hosting the Trader's Faire and Indian Arts & Crafts Market this weekend.

Shoppers will discover unique hand-crafted wares at each location. You'll see clothing, housewares, toys, beads and knives, dipped candles, rag rugs and corn husk dolls at the Fort. At the Museum you'll find beaded jewelry, beautiful Native American artwork, woven baskets, gourds, carved soapstone and elk horn and ceremonial drums.

In addition visitors will be entertained with live bands playing traditional instruments, plus demonstrations and hands-on craft making.

What: Two Artisan Shopping Events -- Trader's Faire and Indian Arts & Crafts Market
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park (2701 L Street) & State Indian Museum (2618 K Street), both in Sacramento
When: April 21 & 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Combo price - $8 for adults; $6 for youth ages 6-17 which includes entrance into both the Fort and Museum. Sutter's Fort stand-alone price: $7 for adults; $5 for youths ages 6-17. Indian Museum stand-alone price: $4 for adults; $3 for youths ages 6-17. Admission for children ages five and under are free to both the Fort and Museum
For more info: 916-445-4422 or 916-324-0971 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: 2008 Trader's Faire. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

April 16, 2012
Folsom author to speak on Japanese Internment

Kiyo Sato.JPGAward-winning author Kiyo Sato will speak at Sacramento State on her family's experiences in an internment camp during World War II.

Prior to the war, Sato and her eight siblings grew up on a thriving family farm near Sacramento. The 1942 Executive Order 9066 forced them to relocate to the Poston Internment Camp in Arizona. The trauma of moving and giving up everything is recounted in Sato's book Kiyo's Story: a Japanese-American family's quest for the American Dream.

This lecture program also features Mas Hatano, a docent for the California State Railroad Museum and the California State Museum, who was interned at the Tule Lake camp during the war.

What: Kiyo Sato speaking on the Japanese Internment
Where: Foothill Suite, University Union, California State University Sacramento
When: April 18, 12 to 1:15 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: Kiyo Sato of Folsom stands at Sacramento City College with her book entitled Kiyo's Story. 2009 Sacramento Bee photograph by Hector Amezcua

April 16, 2012
Registration opens for 1930s series at Central Library

K Street, Sacramento, 1938The popular Capital Decades program series is returning to the Central Library for four weeks in May, this year showcasing city life, fashion, motion pictures and dance from the 1930s. Registration is now open for the following programs:

City Life (Tuesday, May 8, 6-8 p.m.)
Introduction to life in 1930s Sacramento including industry and labor, Hoovervilles, recreation and amusements, and schools. Presented by William Burg, James Scott, Tom Tolley and Amanda Graham.

Fashions and Styles (Tuesday, May 15, 6-7:30 p.m.)
A fashion show featuring dresses and accessories of the 1930s presented by Sacramento Art Deco Society president Doreen Sinclair.

Motion Pictures (Tuesday, May 22, 6-8 p.m.)
Movie expert Matias Bombal will present clips from 1930s films and discuss the development of the Broadway entertainment district in Sacramento.

Jitterbug! (Tuesday, May 29, 7-9 p.m.)
Dance instruction from Midtown Stomp from 7-8 p.m. and a dance to follow with period music and a silent showing of a classic 1930s dance flick.

In addition to a special program each Tuesday evening, there will be exhibits on display at the Central Library through the month of May featuring vintage objects and images from the collections of the Sacramento Art Deco Society and Sacramento Public Library.

For more information and to register for any of the programs, visit

PHOTO CREDIT: K Street, 1938. From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

April 15, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Bob Forsh

Bob_Forsch.JPGBorn: Jan. 13, 1950

Known for: Sacramento native Bob Forsch won 168 games, including two no-hitters, during a 16-year pitching career, mainly with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Background: Forsch was a star player at Hiram Johnson High School. He struck out a record six consecutive batters during the 1968 prep playoffs and led the Warriors to the first Tournament of Champions title that year over Grant. Drafted by the Cardinals, he made his major league debut in 1974. He won 20 games in 1977 and led the Cardinals in victories six times. He no-hit the Phillies in 1978 and the Expos in 1983. An excellent hitter, Forsch won the Sporting News' Silver Slugger Award in 1980 and 1987 and hit 12 career home runs. He also played in three World Series with the Cardinals.

Highlights: Forsch's older brother, Ken, threw a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves in 1979, making the Forsches the only siblings to pitch no-hit games in major league history. Ken Forsch also played 16 years in the majors, winning 114 games. Bob Forsch was the winningest pitcher (93 games) in the history of St. Louis' old Busch Stadium, which was demolished in 2005.

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

April 14, 2012
Titanic disaster had local connections

Sacbee Titanic.JPGAlthough it happened 100 years ago, the sinking of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic continues to fascinate people all around the world. The appetite for the story has been fed by many books, movies, TV shows and documentaries chronicling the tragedy.

A quick Google search shows the surprising wealth of information about the liner, its passengers/crew and the circumstances that led to the death of 1,500 people in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. One website in particular, Encyclopedia Titanica, indexes information by place and reveals two local families connected to the disaster.

Stephen and Annie Holds were a British couple who immigrated to Sacramento. They were returning from an extended family visit in Cornwall, Wales. When the ship hit the iceberg Annie escaped on a lifeboat. Stephen did not. Annie returned to Sacramento and lived there for a few more years before moving back to Wales permanently.

Another victim was Herman Klaber, a Portland hops merchant returning from a long business trip in Europe. Waiting at home was his wife Gertrude, daughter of prominent Sacramento merchant Sam Kinsberg. Gertrude had urged Herman not to sail on the Titanic, it being on its maiden voyage. After the disaster, Gertrude and her young daughter lived in Sacramento for a time before moving to San Francisco.

The Davis Enterprise recently profiled Joan Randall, whose mother, grandparents, great aunt and uncle were steerage passengers on that fateful voyage. Only her grandparents and mother (age 4) survived. Randall has been the family's Titanic historian since her mom died in 1992. She has collected memorabilia and written on the subject, and she'll speak at the DMTC Performing Arts Center in Davis on April 25 after she returns from the 100th Anniversary Memorial Cruise. You can also hear Randall interviewed on the KXJZ Insight program.

While we're on the subject, check out The Bee's 100th anniversary Titanic photo gallery. It's filled with factoids and interesting images.

IMAGE CREDIT: April 15, 1912 front page of The Sacramento Bee. (Click on image for a bigger view.)

April 13, 2012
Watch traditional Native American basket weaving

POMO INDIAN BASKETS.JPGThis Saturday, the California State Indian Museum will present basket weaving demonstrations by Dixie Rogers, a traditional artisan of the Karuk Tribe.

Rogers uses the "Closed Half Twist-Twined With Overlay" technique utilizing several native California plants in her designs.

What: Basket Weaving Demonstrations
Where: State Indian Museum, 2618 K Street, Sacramento (on the grounds of Sutter's Fort)
When: April 14, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Cost: Demonstrations are free with price of admission: $3 for adults; $2 for youths ages 6 to 17 and free for children five and under.
For more info: 916-324-0971 or website

News release
Facebook photos of previous demonstrations

PHOTO CREDIT: Pomo Indian baskets are among many artifacts on display at the State Indian Museum in Sacramento. 2007 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

April 12, 2012
"I Feel the Earth Move"

2011-2455.jpgOur planet has experienced a series of rather large earthquakes over the last couple of days, so you might want to visit the California History Room at the State Library. Its featured book display for April is titled "I Feel the Earth Move" and appropriately highlights the San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 1906. Among the volumes on display are several works of fiction, a collection of reminiscences, several mass-produced photo and text descriptions (some rather sensationalized) issued in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and William Bronson's The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned of 1959, which in my humble opinion is still the best overall work on the subject. In addition, the National Board of Fire Underwriters' report is on display along with a 1913 work on the post-disaster relief efforts.  


Come on down to 900 N Street in Sacramento, take the elevator or stairs to the second floor, and read up on what is arguably the pivotal event in San Francisco's history. And while doing so an important fact may become clear: about 90% of the damage to the city that fateful April was done by the fire, not the earthquake.
April 12, 2012
Woodland Museum Day
Fordson Track 1.JPG

Woodland Museum Day offers a rare opportunity to sample a lot of the town's historic legacy when eleven unique venues are open this Saturday:

* The Christian Church Museum, 509 College St.
* The Gibson House Yolo County Historical Museum, 512 Gibson Road.
* The Hays Antique Truck Museum and the Heidrick Ag History Center both at 1962 Hays Lane
* Reiff's Gas Station on Jefferson Street.
* The Historic Woodland Railroad Dept at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street.
* The Spring Lake School House at the Yolo County Fair Grounds.
* The Spring Lake/Woodland Fire Museum at the Yolo County Fair Grounds.
* The Woodland Fire Museum, 532 Court St.
* The Woodland Museum of Biblical Archeology, 240 West St.
* The Woodland Opera House, 320 Second St.

Maps and brochures will be available at each location. And knowledgeable docents will be on hand to explain the exhibits.

What: Woodland Museum Day
Where: Woodland museums
When: April 14, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: some venues free; some have donation boxes; half price at Hayes and Hedrick.
For more info: BJ Ford, 304-7521, or event brochure

PHOTO CREDIT: Fordson Track Hadfield-Cahl Tracks 1923. Courtesy Heidrick Ag History Center

April 11, 2012
Indigenous peoples of Sacramento explored in lecture
Maidu Headman with Commissioners.jpg

Special guest lecturer April Farnham, former collections manager of the Maidu Indian Museum, will speak at the Sacramento History Museum about indigenous people in Sacramento's early history. Although their names are largely forgotten, individual members of the local Nisenan Maidu, Miwok and Southern Wintun (or Patwin) tribes played a significant role in the region from the early 1800s to the turn of the century.

Farnham's presentation will include a slideshow of rare photographs and illustrations.

What: "An Indigenous History of Sacramento" Special Lecture
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: April 14, 1 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission applies: $6 for adults; $4 for youth ages 6-17; free for children five and under.
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Wapumnes Nisenan Headman with Treaty Commissioners Wozencraft, Reddick, and McKee, 1851. Courtesy Sacramento History Museum

April 10, 2012
More crate label art at the Railroad Museum

Pick Me California Dream.jpgThe California Railroad Museum has added more than 100 additional items to its popular produce label exhibit.

Museum visitors will not only see striking commercial art from 1880-1950, they'll learn how rail transport was critical to the success of the state's burgeoning food industry. In addition, guests will have the chance to design their own art labels. (Bring your camera.)

What: "Pick Me! Fruit Crate Art & the California Dream" Exhibit
Where: California State Railroad Museum, corner of 2nd and I Sts. in Old Sacramento
When: April 10 through Oct. 31, 2013. Open daily 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Fruit label on display at the California State Railroad Museum exhibit "Pick Me! Fruit Crate Art & the California Dream" that opened last year. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

April 9, 2012
A trip thru California history via real photo postcards

Oak Park postcard.jpgPicture postcards are a window into history. And postcards made with "real photos" have double the historical value.

This month the California State Library is sharing some of the best images from the E.F. Mueller Postcard Collection, some 2,590 items donated by the Las Vegas businessman. According to an article by Robert Greenwood, the "real" photographs on these cards depict a wide variety of California scenes, including "towns, factories, celebrities, social events, parades, mines, baseball teams, railroad stations, hotels, floods, etc."

The Library's Tumblr site, Around California in 30 Days, displays a notable Mueller postcard each day of the month starting on April 1. The first card shows famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh leaving San Diego in the Spirit of St. Louis (1927).

You can see more images from the collection by searching "E F Mueller" in the State Library's online picture catalog.

PHOTO CREDIT: Oak Park streetcar scene by the Kropp Company. Courtesy Tom Myers, Sacramento: Inside History Series.

April 8, 2012
In History's Spotlight: William Curtis

CURTIS_WILLIAM.JPGBorn: Aug. 11, 1831
Died: Jan. 27, 1907

Known for: William Curtis was patriarch of the family partnership that built the Curtis Park neighborhood and donated the land for the neighborhood's park in 1919, stipulating that it be named for Curtis.

Background: A Massachusetts native, Curtis arrived in Sacramento in 1852. Two years later, he took over his brother's 200-acre homestead on what is now Montgomery Way, establishing a farm and dairy. By 1882, Curtis and his wife, Susan, owned the entire southeastern portion of what is now the Curtis Park neighborhood. Curtis was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 1893 and served for eight years, becoming chairman his last two years. He was a Republican, remembered for improving roads. The Curtis Park neighborhood land was subdivided in three phases: late 1880s, early 1900s and early 1920s.

A highlight: A building boom during the Roaring '20s brought new schools, including Bret Harte and Sierra elementaries (the latter now the Sierra 2 Center), to the area. Nearby, Christian Brothers School and what was then Sacramento Junior College also were built during that decade.

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

April 5, 2012
Holocaust exhibit visits Sacramento

Poland Auschwitz.jpgA traveling exhibit of rare Holocaust photographs is currently on display at the State Capitol. The Courage to Remember offers deep insight into one of history's worst episodes using 200 exclusive images found no where else. Over 2 million people in 73 locations have viewed the exhibition which is sponsored by The Foundation for California and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

A special ceremony, featuring "elected officials, Holocaust survivors, special guest speakers, representatives from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and other community supporters of Holocaust education" will be held next Tuesday at the Capitol to commemorate the exhibit.

What: The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945
Where: California State Capitol Museum, 10th and L Sts., Sacramento
When: March 30 thru April 13, daily 9 to 5 p.m. Special ceremony April 10, 4:30 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (562) 961-5595 or email

PHOTO CREDIT: Visitors walk through the entrance gate of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland. 2005 Associated Press photograph by Herbert Knosowski

April 5, 2012
A beginning genealogy class

Karen Burney.JPGThe recent release of 1940 U.S. Census records has put a big spotlight on genealogy. If you're inspired to research your family tree but don't know how to start, the Sacramento Public Library has a class for you.

Next Saturday genealogist Karen Burney will explain what records and resources are available, how to find them, as well as how to organize your findings.

Advance registration for the workshop is preferred by calling 916-264-2920, but walk-ins are welcome. The sequel to this class, "How to Use Records to Tell Your Ancestors' Stories," will be given July 7.

What: Beginning Genealogy: How to Trace Your Family History, with Karen Burney
Where: Sacramento Public Library, Central Branch West Meeting Room, 828 I St., Sacramento
When: April 7, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: email Beth Daugherty or see web site

PHOTO CREDIT: At the Carmichael Library Karen Burney shows off a picture of her great great great grandfather Stephen Presley while recounting some of the genealogy research she has done. 2011 Sacramento Bee photograph by Renee C. Byer

April 4, 2012
Cemetery symbols and Victorian mourning

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

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

What: Symbolism and Victorian Mourning Practices
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: April 7, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: call 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811

News release

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

April 3, 2012
Strut your stuff this Easter in Old Sacramento

BONNET PROMENADE 2.JPGFor the 17th year, history buffs are invited to parade in their best 19th century finery in Old Sacramento this Saturday. Onlookers will likely see women in fanciful dresses, lovely parasols or colorful hats, and men in top hats, frock coats, vests, trousers, walking stick and watch fob.

This "Living History" fashion show will be followed by a Spring Ball featuring period music by Claudia's Kitchen Band. Dance instructors will also be on hand to demonstrate period dances like the polka, mazurka, waltz and quadrille.

What: "Living History" Easter Bonnet Promenade & Spring Ball
Where: Old Sacramento
When: April 7. 10:45 a.m. -- Easter Bonnet Promenade participants gather in front of the Sacramento History Museum (101 I St.). 11 a.m. -- Easter Bonnet Promenade begins. 2 p.m. -- Spring Ball begins in Stanford Gallery (111 I St.).
Cost: free
For more info: 916-808-7059 or

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Joanne Hall, left, and Jennifer Barnhart, both are with the Old Sacramento Living History program are dressed in their 1850-1860s period dresses as they and others had their annual Easter bonnet promenade through the streets of Old Sacramento. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose M. Osorio

April 2, 2012
Sierra College creates museum guide

Sierra College's electronic journal, called "The Journal of the Sierra College Natural History Museum," has just published a new issue with a valuable resource for history buffs - a directory of about 200 museums, libraries and other cultural organizations in the Sierra Nevada region.

Seventeen California counties, including Sacramento, are represented in the journal, accompanied by a short, explanatory description of the venue, contact information and a photo gallery. It also features a special section highlighting the Sierra College Natural History Museum.

For more information and to purchase the electronic journal, go to or through the college website at

-- Sam McManis

April 1, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Sab Shimono

Sab Shimono.JPGBorn: July 31, 1943

Known for: Sacramento native Sab Shimono has fashioned a long acting career in television shows, movies and Broadway plays.

Background: Shimono was born in an apartment on Third and L streets in Sacramento. During World War II, Shimono's family was relocated to the Tule Lake camp in Northern California and then to Amache, Colo., as part of Executive Order 9066, which uprooted more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry. When Shimono's family returned home, his father opened the Diamond Cafe on K Street. Shimono attended Sacramento High School and then University of California, Berkeley, where he took acting classes. He made his Broadway debut in "Mame," with Angela Lansbury. His film credits include "Presumed Innocent." On TV, he's appeared in "2 1/2 Men", "Friends" "Seinfeld" and "M.A.S.H." He also has won awards for his work in regional theater, including San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

A highlight: He was the voice of Uncle on the hit TV series "Jackie Chan Adventures." He also has provided voice work for "The Simpsons."

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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