Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

May 31, 2012
Native American elders honored as tradition keepers

elder drum.JPGNative elders from around the state will gather at the California State Indian Museum to be honored for their efforts to preserve and share tribal traditions and culture.

This special "Community Day" will feature free admission to the Indian Museum, as well as a sponsored lunch, dancers, speakers, door prizes, arts and crafts vendors and community service organizations.

"Gathering of Honored Elders" is co-sponsored by California State Parks, California Indian Heritage Center Foundation, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Buena Vista Rancheria, Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, Hutuanape Foundation and Trinidad Rancheria.

What: 35th Annual "Gathering of Honored Elders" & Special "Community Day"
Where: State Indian Museum (on grounds of Sutter's Fort State Historic Park), 2618 K St., Sacramento
When: June 2. Event hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For info: 916-324-0971 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Awende's Native Women drummers and singers perform during the birthday party for "Grandma" Bertha Norton at the California State Indian Museum. Norton is the oldest living Indian in California. 1999 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jay Mather

May 29, 2012
Vintage WWII aircraft visit Sacramento

This weekend McClellan Field will host Wings of Freedom, a national tour of vintage World War II aircraft. The event features a B-17, B-24, P-51 and a special unannounced appearance by a German Messerschmit. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the fighters and bombers on the ground. Rides on the bombers are also available by reservation.

One special guest taking a ride on one of the bombers is Land Park resident John Kanelos, 88, who served as a B-24 radio operator during the war. Kanelos was recently profiled in a Valley Community Newspapers article by Lance Armstrong.

What: 2012 Wings of Freedom Tour
Where: McClellan Airfield near Coast Guard Hangar, Sacramento (map)
When: June 1-4. Walk-thru tour times (no reservations required): Friday 2-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9-5 p.m.; Sunday 9-12 p.m. Flight Experiences take place before and after tours.
Cost: Aircraft tours: $12 for adults; $6 for children 12 and under; free for WWII vets. B-17/B-24 rides: $425 per person. Call 978-562-9182 for flight reservations.
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: B-17, B-24 and P-51 in formation. Courtesy The Collings Foundation

May 29, 2012
Summer Reading poster display at Central Library

Summer Reading commences on June 1 at the Sacramento Public Library, and in celebration, summer reading posters from years past will be on display at the Central Library. Eye-catching posters representing five decades of summer reading programs have been pulled from the library archives and will be exhibited on the first floor of the library from June 6 through mid-August, 2012. 

Summer Reading 1980.JPGSummer Reading 1995.JPG Sacramento Public Library has hosted summer reading programs for over 50 years. The programs encourage children's reading over the summer months through reading challenges, story times, and other special programs. This year's theme is DREAM BIG, and Summer Reading runs from June 1 through August 15. Participants can sign up and learn more at

IMAGE CREDIT: 1980 Sacramento Public Library Summer Reading poster ("Super People") and 1995 Summer Reading poster ("Hunt for Treasure"). From the Archives of the Sacramento Public Library.

May 28, 2012
150 years of passenger train style explored in new exhibit

Lucius Beebe Car.jpgThis Thursday the State Railroad Museum unveils a new exhibit chronicling the evolution of passenger railroading since the 1870s. A variety of articles display the innovations in comfort, design, technology and service that improved train travel over the decades.

You'll see various seating from the 19th century to the present, different types of sleeping accommodations and other amenities, as well as a selection of vintage lights, dining utensils and china. There's even a barber chair used in the early 1900s and a bar from a 30s lounge car.

"Ticket to Ride" will be located in the Mezzanine Gallery near the entrance to the Museum Theater.

What: "Ticket to Ride: 150 Years Passenger Comfort & Style" Exhibit
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: May 31 through March 2013
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: Lucius Morris Beebe's private car, The Gold Coast, built in 1905, on display in 1982 at the California State Railroad Museum. Photo Special to the Bee by Curt W. Kaldor

May 27, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Richard Rodriguez


Known for: A native Sacramentan, Richard Rodriguez is an award-winning essayist and author.

Background: Rodriguez, a Mexican American, grew up in east Sacramento. His family was among the first Latinos to move into the middle-class, white neighborhood. His father worked in a shop that made false teeth. His mother also worked, ultimately as a typist in Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown's office. He used his painful memories about his youthful assimilation in his 1982 autobiography, "Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez." He received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a master's degree from Columbia University. A contributing editor at New America Media in San Francisco, he was a regular essayist on PBS' "MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour." His other books include "Mexico's Children," "Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father," which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and "Brown: The Last Discovery of America." His works have also appeared in numerous magazines.

A highlight: Among his awards, Rodriguez received a 1997 George Foster Peabody Award for his "News Hour" essays on American life.

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

May 25, 2012
New Arcadia volume explores American River Canyon history

Amer River Canyon.jpgThe North and Middle Forks of the American River are a natural resource that has undergone great changes beginning with the 1849 Gold Rush. This transformation is documented in dozens of historic photos of bridges, dams, trains, trestles, mining and recreation collected in American River Canyon, a new Arcadia Images of America volume.

Local historians Rodi Lee and Michael G. Lynch accumulated over 1,200 archival images in researching the book. They used photographs from the State Library, UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, Placer County Archives and the Historical Society, and numerous federal and state agencies.

American River Canyon (Images of America), 127 pages, $21.99.

Arcadia Publishing is known for producing small, beautifully illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 7,500 titles celebrating communities all across the country.

May 24, 2012
Free E-Book Celebrates Golden Gate Bridge

The California Historical Society has released a free e-book for iPads on San Francisco's Golden State Bridge, which celebrates its 75th anniversay this weekend.

The multi-media book, titled "A Wild Flight of the Imagination: The Story of the Golden Gate Bridge," features more than 350 historical photographs, artwork, memorabilia and stories.

You can download the document from the California Historical Society's website or get it free as an app from the iTunes store.

-- Sam McManis

May 24, 2012
See Sacramento modern masterpiece during SacMod home tour

See a mid-century modern gem during a special home tour, hosted by Sacramento Modern.

On June 2, the Roush residence - one of Sacramento's most original and unusual homes - will be open to the public. Built in 1954 in Arden Oaks, the house was designed by Terry Waters, who studied and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, John Launter and Walter S. White.

Robert Roush, the home's original owner, founded Roush Bakery Products, best known for its Hillbilly bread.

Tickets for the home tour are $45 and must be ordered in advance. Deadline is May 31. To keep the tour from overwhelming the home, tickets will be assigned in time blocks from 1 to 5 p.m. To order, click on

Half the proceeds will go towards an upcoming California Museum exhibit showcasing the work of Sacramento native Ray Eames, among the most influential modernists.

Led by local architects and designers, the SacMod home tour includes appetizers and beverages, music, a commemorative booklet, vintage displays and photographs of the home. A restored 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom will be parked in the carport.

For more on SacMod and the home tour, visit

-- Debbie Arrington

May 24, 2012
The jazzy side of the Railroad Museum

Sac Music logo.JPGTo get in the spirit of this weekend's 39th annual Sacramento Music Festival in Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum will provide its own live music inside the building.

A variety of banjo groups will perform in the Roundhouse on Friday (1 to 4 p.m.) and Saturday thru Monday (11 to 4 p.m.). There will be more live music in the Museum Theater on Saturday and Sunday (1 and 2:30 p.m. And passengers enjoying the 40-minute excursion train rides will be treated to performances by members of the Sacramento Banjo Band.

Excursion trains will run all three weekend days, departing hourly from 11 to 5 p.m. from the nearby Central pacific Depot on Front St. between J and K Sts. Tickets may be purchased at the Sacramento Southern Railroad ticket office starting 10: 30 a.m. on the day of the ride (first-come, first served).

What: Jazz-Related Activities at the California State Railroad Museum
Where: 2nd and I Sts., Old Sacramento
When: May 26-28, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission: general $9, youth (6-17) $4, children (0-5) free. Excursion train rides: general $10, youth (6-17) $5, children (0-5) free. First class Eldorado Car: per person $15, children (0-5) free. Free museum admission for those holding Music Festival badges.
For more info: (916) 445-6645 or website

May 22, 2012
Railtown 1897 to run train excursions on Memorial Day

Sierra 3 Bell Mooney Road.JPGIt's a big weekend coming up for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. The vintage trains will run all three days, taking passengers on a 40-minute ride through California's Gold Country. The "Movie Star Locomotive" Sierra No. 3 will working Saturday. And on Sunday the Pullman car No. 2901 will be available for its first trip of the season.

All weekend the historic belt shop will be running and the famous Caboose No. 7 will be open for tours.

Train excursion tickets may be purchased online in advance or at the park starting 10 a.m. on the day of the ride (first come -- first served).

What: Excursion Train Rides Over Memorial Day Weekend
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
When: May 26 to 28. Excursion trains depart on-the-hour from 11 to 3 p.m
Cost: General train rides - $13 adults, $6 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under. First-class train ride (Sunday only): $21 adults, $9 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under.
For more info: 209-984-3953 or

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Sierra No. 3, the "Movie Star" steam locomotive. Courtesy Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

May 21, 2012
'Vettes for Vets' car show is cruising for Corvette owners

Corvettes.JPGThe Corvette has been America's sportscar since General Motors introduced the first model in 1953. The fiberglass convertible was meant to compete with the likes of British-made Triumph and Jaguar, and cost around $2,000. The Beach Boys' song "Shut Down," about a drag race involving a 1963 Stingray, helped put the official stamp on the Corvette as an icon.

That's the kind of lore that you'll hear when Corvette owners and fans gather at the "Vettes for Vets" car show at the California Automobile Museum, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 27. It's in honor of "the hard work and dedication that military veterans have committed to our country."

The Corvette showing is free to everyone; military veterans will be admitted free to two special exhibits inside the museum, opening the same day. "No Job Too Big" will display commercial vehicles such as buses, tow trucks and police cars. The second show will feature the French Citron DS.

If you're a Corvette owner, you can display your car at the "Vettes for Vets" show. Advance registration is $10, or $15 the day of the event. To register: (916) 442-6802,

General admission to the museum is $8, $7 seniors, $4 students, free for age 4 and younger. The museum is at 2200 Front St., Sacramento.

-- Allen Pierleoni

PHOTO CREDIT: 1959 and 1963 Chevrolet Corvettes on display at the Towe Auto Museum. 2004 photograph by Ken Jordan

May 20, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Peter J. Shields

Peter Shields.JPGBorn: April 4, 1862
Died: Sept. 28, 1962

Known for: Known as the "father" of UC Davis, Shields formulated the idea in 1899 to place an agriculture school in the Central Valley. In 1905, he wrote most of the legislation to establish the college.

Background: Born in Hangtown Crossing (now part of Rancho Cordova), Shields grew up on a farm, graduated from Christian Brothers College (now high school) and studied law. A law partner of Hiram Johnson, Shields chose the bench while the fiery Johnson opted for politics, eventually becoming California's governor. Shields was elected to a Sacramento Superior Court judgeship in 1900 and held it until he retired in 1949 at age 87. Then for another dozen years, he traveled daily from his 23rd Street home to the law office he maintained downtown. In addition to his judicial duties, his diverse interests included his work as a co-founder of McGeorge School of Law and as an advocate of agricultural education and the improvement of California livestock. He was known for developing a notable herd of Jersey cattle.

A highlight: Shields Library at UC Davis is named for him, as is a Rancho Cordova elementary school.

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

May 18, 2012
Documentary on Gov. Pat Brown to screen on KVIE

Brown Family.JPGWith Gov. Jerry Brown front and center in state politics, filmmakers Sascha Rice and Hilary Armstrong's documentary, California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown, seems more than timely.

The doc is a look into the Brown California family dynasty - a dynasty some liken to the Massachusetts-borne Kennedy dynasty. The film's main focus is Gov. Brown's father - the late Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown.

In the documentary, Rice and Armstrong enlist journalists, historians, contemporary thinkers, and politicians (including Jerry Brown) to frame a narrative that offers a political, philosophical, and psychological perspective on Pat Brown.

KVIE will premiere California State of Mind on Monday, May 21, at 10 p.m.

A three min. trailer can be seen here.

-- Edward Ortiz

PHOTO CREDIT: Governor Edmund G. " Pat " Brown poses in front of the Capitol with his family, from left, Jerry, Bernice, Edmund and Kathy. 1962 Sacramento Bee file photo

May 17, 2012
Annual May Festival at Woodland's Gibson House

Gibson House 1982.jpgThe May Festival is the Yolo County Historical Museum's 34th annual day of tours, crafts, plants, food and entertainment at the historic Gibson House.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy gold panning, face painting, old fashioned washboard clothes washing, children's games, blacksmith demonstration and a model railroad display.

Entertainers include Folklorico de la Woodland, Tarlesson Family traditional African dance, Crawford Perkes Classic Rock Band and other local music groups.

The Museum will open for groups of ten at a time to view a new exhibit honoring those Chinese immigrants and workers who contributed to the development of early Yolo County and the state.

What: Annual May Festival
Where: Gibson House, 512 Gibson Rd., Woodland
When: May 20, 10 to 4 p.m.
Cost: free, but visitors are asked to donate a canned good for the Woodland Volunteer Food Closet.
For more info: (530) 666-1045 or email

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: The Gibson House during its renovation for use as Yolo County's museum. 1982 Sacramento Bee photograph by Leilani Hu

May 16, 2012
Film asks, what is the "greenest" building?

A 2011 documentary film asks the question, what's the most environmentally and economically sound policy: retrofit old buildings or replace them with new ones? The Greenest Building argues that reuse of existing structures strengthens local economies and community identity, and has less of a negative impact on natural resources and global climate.

The local screening of the documentary this Sunday will be followed by a discussion with Architect Ron Vrilakas who will speak about reuse and preservation in "The Triangle," an infill project in Oak Park.

What: Screening of The Greenest Building documentary film
Where: Guild Theatre, 2828 35th St., Sacramento
When: May 20, 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: SOCA at (916) 202-4815

News release
Event flyer

May 16, 2012
Local WWII POW to appear at Aerospace Museum

Kovar.jpgLocal author Len Kovar will appear during the Armed Forces Day celebration at the Aerospace Museum of California this Saturday. He'll be on hand to sign books and share his his war experiences as depicted in the memoir WWII Prisoner of War: How I Survived.

Kovar served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a bombardier-navigator based in Italy. On his 11th mission his B-24 was shot down and he parachuted into Hungary. Eventually the Germans captured him and he suffered as a POW for nine months surviving various camps and forced marches.

Saturday is also Open Cockpit Day at the Museum. it's a special opportunity for kids to explore the inside of many of the aircraft on display. In addition, there will be radio controlled flights by the Mather Aerospace Modelers and other activities throughout the day.

What: Meet the Author: Len Kovar
Where: California Aerospace Museum, 3200 Freedom Park Dr., North Highland
When: May 19, 9 a.m.
Cost: $5 museum admission. Free for active military and their families.
For more info: (916) 643-3192

News release

May 16, 2012
Author discusses women in mid-1800s Sacramento

Disaster and Triumph.jpgLocal author Cheryl Anne Sapp will discuss her new book, Disaster and Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush through the Civil War, this Saturday at the State Military Museum.

Although women constituted a small percentage of early Sacramento's population, they influenced the development of the city in many ways, according to Sapp. In biographical sketches of she shows how six very different women displayed skill and tenacity in meeting the challenges of flood, fire and hardship.

Autographed copies will be on sale at the lecture. or you can purchase a copy from Amazon.

What: Meet the Author: Cheryl Anne Sapp
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St., Sacramento
When: May 19, 1 p.m.
Cost: Lecture is free. Museum admission is free for Armed Forces Day.
For more info: 916-854-1900

Event flyer

May 15, 2012
Frog Jumping Jubilee hops again

AngelsCampFrog.JPGSacramentans got a taste of amphibian fun at the recent 38th Annual Capitol Jumping Frog Contest, won by Jumping by Intoxicated, who leaped 12'5" at the urging of Anya Lawler with the office of Assembly Member Norma Torres.

But the main competition happens this weekend at the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee. This four-day extravaganza is a full-blown agricultural fair featuring craft, food and livestock exhibits, entertainment, rodeo and carnival, in addition to frog jumping.

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

What: Calaveras County Fair & Frog Jumping Jubilee
Where: 101 Frogtown Rd., Angels Camp
When: May 17-20 (schedules)
Cost: Adults $10; children, 6-12, $6; family pass, $25. Purchase discounted tickets online.
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: A fiberglass frog painted by a local artist commemorates the Mark Twain short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." This and other frog statues planted around town help celebrate the town's heritage and draw attention to the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee. 2008 Sacramento Bee photograph by Janet Fullwood

May 15, 2012
Money the next topic of Sutter's Fort's Hands-on-History

Sutter's Fort General Store postcardThe business of Sutter's Fort will be the topic of the next interactive Hands-on-History day at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park. In addition to learning about the many financial ventures that supported John Sutter's fort, visitors will get to try their hand at writing in a ledger with a quill pen, view a demonstration of gold scales, and ask questions of a guest "Connoisseur of Coins." 

What: Hands-on-History: How Did John Sutter Expect to Make Money?
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park (2701 L Street, Sacramento)
When: Saturday, May 19, 2012, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for youths (ages 6-17), and free for children under 5
For more info: (916) 445-4422 or

IMAGE CREDIT: General Store, Sutter's Fort - Sacramento, Calif. (McCurry Foto Co.); From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

May 14, 2012
The Civil War comes alive at Gibson Ranch

The Civil War comes alive at Gibson Ranch this weekend. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour civilian, Union and Confederate camps, witness battle re-enactments, and enjoy period music, food and crafts. You can also hear historic speeches and chat with living history enactors.

Plus there will be a horseman demonstration, cannon firings, fashion show, May Day celebration and a "Searching for the Dead" scenario.

A great event for families, but not recommended for pets and young children.

What: Civil War Re-enactment at Gibson Ranch
Where: Gibson Ranch, 8556 Gibson Ranch Rd., Elverta (directions).
May 19-20. Living History Camps Open: 9 to 3:30 p.m. Sat.; 9 to 1:30 p.m, Sun. Battle Re-enactments: 1 to 1:30 p.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m. Sat.; 11 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. Sun.
Cost: $7 general admission. Children 10 and under free. Parking is included.
For more info: 916-991-7592 or website

Event schedule

PHOTO CREDIT: Southern Rebels forces overrun a Union camp in a re-enactment of the battle of Big Bethel at Gibson Ranch Park in Elverta. 2006 Sacramento Bee photograph by Andy Alfaro

May 13, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Jerome C. Davis

Jerome Davis.jpgBorn: 1822
Died: Oct. 6, 1881

Known for: Jerome C. Davis was a rancher and landholder for whom the city of Davis, originally called "Davisville," is named.

Background: An Ohio native, Davis arrived in California in 1845 as part of Capt. John C. Fremont's topographical survey expedition. In the early 1850s, Davis started the first dairy in Yolo County with Col. Joseph B. Chiles. With the help of Davis' father, Isaac, the farm prospered until the mid-1860s. Davis deeded the ranch to his father in 1866. A year later, Isaac Davis sold part of his ranch to the California Pacific Railroad. In 1868, the railroad filed a plot for the new town of Davisville. In 1917, the community incorporated. The "ville" was dropped from its name about the same time.

A highlight: In 1905, legislation was approved for the establishment of a state agricultural school. A year later, purchase of 778 acres of the original Jerome C. Davis ranch formed the basis for the University Farm School. It grew into a branch of Berkeley's College of Agriculture in 1922, then into a separate campus - the University of California at Davis - in 1959.

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

May 11, 2012
Sacramento Heritage walking tours and photos

ELKS BUILDING.JPGIn the spirit of May Preservation Month, check out Sacramento Heritage's list of self-guided walking tours of some of the best historic areas in the city. The annotated maps and brochures will help you plan your jaunts whenever you want to go.

Tours include architectural landmarks downtown, on J and K Streets, Oak Park, Curtis Park and Boulevard Park. Plus there are bungalow tours in Midtown and East Sacramento.

If you want to see many of these sites from the comfort of home, Sacramento Heritage has posted several photo collections on its Flickr page.

Sacramento Heritage, Inc. is a public/private partnership whose mission is to preserve and promote the city's historic architecture. The organization conducts surveys, sponsors workshops and provides grants and loans for preservation efforts.

PHOTO CREDIT: Elks Building, 11th and J Sts., part of the J and K Street Commercial Corridor Walking Tour. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jay Mather

May 10, 2012
Rail Daze honors trains and moms

speeder.JPGIn celebration of National Train Day and Mother's Day, visitors to Folsom's Rail Daze will have a unique opportunity take a ride on a vintage 1914 streetcar or a "speeder" (railroad maintenance car).

In addition to the excursion rides, there will be exhibits, booths, model trains and music provided by the Sacramento Banjo Band and Riverbend Folk Band.

Rail Daze is hosted by the Recreational Coalition Railroad Historical Society.

What: Rail Daze Weekend Folsom
Where: Hampton Inn, 155 Placerville Rd., Folsom
When: May 12 & 13, 9 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Mothers and grandmothers ride free. All others $5.
For more info: Kathryn Corbett at 916-353-0556

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Former state assemblyman Larry Bowler sits in his speeder, a small gas-powered vehicle formerly used by railroad maintenance crews. 2007 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

May 10, 2012
Ride a vintage train on Mother's Day

GraniteRockl.JPGHere's a different kind of Mother's Day gift: a leisurely train ride behind a vintage locomotive. These 40-minute, six mile excursions along the Sacramento River start and end in Old Sacramento. Passengers can ride in open-air gondolas cars with bench seating or closed coaches with more comfortable seats. Moms who ride on Sunday receive a complimentary Decadent Double Fudge Dipped Cake Pop (while supplies last). Tickets may be purchased Sunday on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 10:30.

Saturday is National Train Day. In celebration excursion rides will be pulled by two streamlined diesel locomotives: Southern Pacific 6051 and Western Pacific 913.

What: Excursion Train Rides on Mother's Day!
Where: Trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, Front Street between J and K Streets in Old Sacramento
When: May 13. Departing hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under. $15 for first class tickets aboard the El Dorado observation car.
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Granite Rock No. 10 is one of the historic locomotives that pull excursion trains through Old Sacramento. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 9, 2012
Sutter's Fort launches interactive youth program
SF ELP Program.jpg

"Scouts at the Fort" provides a special opportunity for young people to learn what life was like in the 1840s by getting "hands on" experience with some of the crafts and chores practiced by Sacramento pioneers. Through such activities as toy making, open fire cooking and period games, students expand their understanding of the history of the region and state.

Initially designed to help Girl Scouts earn skill badges, the program is now open to any group of children, age eight and up. Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance. Call Friends of Sutter's Fort at 916-323-7626 to tailor a session for your particular youth group's needs and interests.

What: "Scouts at the Fort"
Where: Sutter's Fort Historic State Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: 10 to 12:30 p.m. second Saturdays starting May 12
Cost: $15 per scout, which includes admission to the Fort and admission for one adult per scout.
For more info: 916-323-7626 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Students learn carpentry skills in the Fort's Environmental Living Program. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

May 9, 2012
Art Deco tour of downtown Sacramento

fountain.JPGOn Saturday, May 12, the Sacramento Art Deco Society will be leading a walking tour of downtown Sacramento's Art Deco treasures. The tour will begin at the "Maidens" fountain in Cesar Chavez Park (10th & J Street) and end at the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture building on N Street.  Along the way, participants will view Art Deco buildings, sculptural reliefs, terrazzo floors and historical photographs. Those interested in taking the tour may RSVP by calling (916) 549-5419.

What: Downtown Deco Tour - Maidens, Olympians and Zigzag Buildings
When: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Where: From Cesar Chavez Park (10th & J) to Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture (1220 N Street)
Cost: Free
For more info: (916) 549-5419

PHOTO CREDIT: A bicyclist peddles past a water fountain at Cesar Chavez Park. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose M. Osorio

May 8, 2012
Outdoor artists at State Indian Museum

Plein Air Day.jpgThe State Indian Museum invites artists of all ages and skill levels to participate in a special outdoor painting/sketching opportunity at Sutter's Fort.  Here's a chance to capture in art one of the state's oldest historic buildings and its beautiful natural setting.

Non-artists are invited to come watch the artists work their magic and to browse the Museum which will be open that day.

What: 3rd Annual Plein Air Day!
Where: State Indian Museum (outdoors on grounds of Sutter's Fort State Historic Park), 2618 K St., Sacramento
When: May 12, 2012, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission $3 for adults (18 years & older); $2 for youths (ages 6 to 17)
and free for children five and under
For more info: 916-324-0971 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Artist paints outside Sutter's Fort. Courtesy Capital District State Museums & Historic Parks

May 7, 2012
Celebrate National Train Day and Mother's Day at Railtown 1897

MAJ GEORGE SAPP.JPGIt's a double-header celebration at Railtown this weekend.

The Park will observe National Train Day with excursion rides aboard Caboose No. 7 that's pulled by steam locomotive Sierra No.3. Guests will also be treated to special one-day-only tours of the Roundhouse and Shops and will see the No. 28 and 34 locomotives, vintage track maintenance vehicles and the custom construction car built for the Hetch Hetchy Dam.

On Mother's Day, moms who take the Sierra No. 3 excursion ride will receive a complimentary commemorative Belgian chocolate bar. And children will get complimentary balloons. The 40-minute train ride will passengers through six miles of beautiful Gold Country hills and meadows which are still festooned with spring wildflowers. Families are encouraged to share a picnic lunch on the Roundhouse lawn.

Train tickets for both days may be purchased in advance or at the Park starting 10 a.m. on the day of the ride.

What: National Train Day!
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: May 12
Cost: Park admission: $5 adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under. Train rides: $13 adults, $6 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit or

What: Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides on Mother's Day!
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: May 13. Trains depart hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $13 adults, $6 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under (includes Park admission)
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit

News Releases

PHOTO CREDIT: George Sapp, lead restoration worker at Railtown 1897 State Historical Park, stands before "movie star" locomotive Sierra No. 3. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael Allen Jones

May 6, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Steve Cook
Steve Cook.JPG

Born: Jan. 13, 1957

Known for: Roseville native Steve Cook captured 15 career titles, including three major championships, on the Professional Bowlers Association tour.

Background: Cook played only baseball at Oakmont High School and didn't begin bowling seriously until age 17. He began competing in junior leagues, then adult leagues. He eventually began practicing every day at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights. He joined the PBA tour in 1977, earned $14,500 and was second in Rookie of the Year balloting. The 6-foot-7, 265-pound lefthander became a staple on the sport's televised Saturday broadcasts, appearing 40 times during his 15-year career. He won the 1981 Tournament of Champions, the 1983 Touring Players Championship and the 1986 BPAA U.S. Open. He earned more than $800,000 in prize money during his career. The Granite Bay resident now owns Steve Cook Bowling Supply based in Sacramento.

A highlight: Cook was elected to the PBA Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Sacramento Bowling Association's Hall of Fame in 2004. He bowled a perfect 300 game 27 times during his pro career.

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

May 4, 2012
Governor's Mansion remembered at Elk Grove Historical Society event

Mansion.JPGThe annual Elk Grove Historical Society tea and fashion show will recall the gubernatorial families that occupied the old Governor's Mansion from 1903 to 1967.

The affair features a display of formal dresses Governors' wives worn to inaugural balls. In addition docents from the Mansion will appear in period attire to perform a short vignette honoring the 13 governors and two private families who resided at the 1877 residence.

Proceeds from the event will be used to help restore historic buildings.

What: The Governors' Wives Tea and Fashion Show
Where: Elk Grove Hotel & State Shop Museum, 9941 East Stockton Blvd.
When: May 12. Seating at 11 a.m.
Cost: $25 for members and guests. To purchase tickets call Annaclare Entrican, 686-8238, or use the online mail-order form.
For more info: EGHS website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: California Governor's Mansion. Date and photographer unknown.

May 3, 2012
The California State Library Celebrates the Golden Gate Bridge

For the month of May, the California State Library will celebrate the 75th birthday of San Francisco's fabled Golden Gate Bridge. The library's California History Room has changed its featured display to showcase many fascinating books about the bridge. Particularly noteworthy are the 1938 official report on the bridge's construction, a more recent report on the Doyle Drive approach to the span (timely since that inadequate and dangerous stretch of highway was torn down this past weekend), and a 1921 volume titled Bridging the Golden Gate, showing the ungainly original design for the bridge which fortunately did not come to pass.


And on Wednesday, May 16, the monthly "A Night at the State Library" program will present the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen as a San Francisco police lieutenant and showcasing an almost 11-minute car chase in which the Golden Gate Bridge is visible (permission to actually film part of this chase on the bridge was denied by authorities). A post-film discussion will feature historic photos and archival material on San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from the State Library's collection. The library is located at 900 N Street in Sacramento. The doors open at 5PM, the presentation starts at 6PM, and light refreshments will be served. If you wish to attend please RSVP to or call 916-215-9280.

GG Bridge Construction.bmp

Speaking of historic images from the State Library, seen here is a photo of a workman high up alongside the cables during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and another of classic aircraft flying over the bridge, likewise during its construction. I have also included a photo from my own collection taken by Debra Wilensky of San Francisco, early in the morning of May 24, 1987, showing people crowding onto the bridge during its 50th anniversary celebration. I was standing close by as the photo was taken and, believe me, we did not advance a whole lot further than this.GG Bridge 50.jpg

May 3, 2012
Tour Sacramento's neighborhoods during Jane's Walk

JANESWALK_09.JPGJane's Walk is an annual international event that fosters "free neighborhood walking tours that help put people in touch with their environment and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves."

This year Sacramento boasts six Jane's Walk tours this weekend. All tours are free and don't require an RSVP.

Saturday, May 5

10 to 12 p.m.
Old City Cemetery: Police, Fire & Legal Lore
Starting Point: Sacramento Old City Cemetery, Main Gate, 1000 Broadway

12 to 2 p.m.
Downtown: Circling the Capitol
Starting Point: Sutter Club, 1220 9th Street (9th and Capitol Mall)

3 to 5 p.m.
Midtown: Mixing Business with Pleasure
Starting Point: Old Soul at The Weatherstone, 812 21st Street

6 to 8 p.m.
Downtown Rock & Roll Tour
Starting Point: The Torch Club, 904 15th Street, Sacramento

Sunday, May 6

11 to 5 p.m.
Seersucker Ride/Jane's Roll
Starting Point: Marshall Park, 28th and J Street

2 to 4 p.m.
Winn Park
Starting Point: 2620 P Street

Local Jane's Walk is sponsored by Sacramento Old City Association, Old City Cemetery Committee, Sacramento Heritage Inc., Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Sacramento Tweed and Sacramento County Historical Society. See SOCA for more information on these tours.

PHOTO CREDIT: Luis Sumpter (center) provided history on the Van Voorhies Residence during a walking tour of Alkali Flat. The tour, organized by the Sacramento Old City Association, was part of the nationwide Jane's Walks to explore neighborhoods. 2011 Sacramento Bee photograph by Manny Crisostomo

May 2, 2012
Police, firefighters honored in cemetery tour

Police Fire May 5.jpgVolunteer docent Eric Bradner will lead the next Historic City Cemetery tour. The cemetery is the burial spot for many pioneering police officers, lawyers and firefighters whose work was critical in the development of Sacramento. Bradner will share stories of how these individuals saved lives, kept the peace and established the rule of law in the town's early days.

What: Police, Fire and Legal Lore
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: May 5, 10 a.m.
Cost: Tours are free. However, donations are appreciated and go for restoration and preservation of cemetery artifacts.
For more info: 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Old City Cemetery Committee

May 1, 2012
Jimmy Doolittle Tribute honors 70th anniversary of famous WWII raid

Doolittles Raiders 70 Years.JPGSeventy years ago a squadron of B-25 bombers staged a daring raid on Japan in the early months of World War II following Pearl Harbor. To commemorate that amazing operation, a tribute will be held this Saturday for its commander, James Doolittle, one of California's best-known pioneer aviators and war heroes.

The USS Hornet Museum in partnership with the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum will host the day-long celebration. Festivities include appearances by three of the five surviving Raiders, veterans of the USS Hornet (CV-8) and others involved in the rescue of the airmen in China. There will also be a presentation by Doolittle's granddaughter and biographer Jonna Doolittle Hoppes.

Rich Nowatzki.jpgAmong the honored guests attending the tribute is Lincoln resident Richard Nowatzki who served on the Hornet from before it was commissioned in October 1941 until it was sunk in October 1942 during the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands.

What: A Tribute to Jimmy Doolittle
Where: USS Hornet Museum, 707 W Hornet Ave, Pier 3, Alameda
When: May 5, 10 to 4 p.m. Special presentation at 1 p.m. Fundraising dinner, 5 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $15 adults; $12 seniors, military and students; $6 youth 5-17; children under 5 free with paying adult. $100 per person dinner (reservations required).
For more info: (510) 521-8448 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Four survivors of the April 17, 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo, Japan, led by Jimmy Doolittle, pose for photographs in front of a B-25 bomber at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. 2010 Dayton Daily News photograph by Mike Ullery. (Bottom) Lincoln resident Richard Nowatzki who served on the USS Hornet during World War II. Courtesy USS Hornet 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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