Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

June 29, 2012
Transcontinental Railroad authorized by law 150 years ago

TRAIN DEPOT MURAL.JPGOne hundred and fifty years ago this Sunday President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, which simultaneously chartered the Union Pacific Railroad and directed it to build a transcontinental train route in conjunction with the existing Central Pacific Railroad. As every history student knows, the UP would lay track heading west from Omaha and the CP would work east starting in Sacramento (at the foot of I Street to be exact).

Today Union Pacific (successor to both the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads) celebrates its sesquicentennial year with UP150.com, a  well-endowed website filled with historical information and photos. Particularly useful is the UP Timeline, which begins with the 1862 charter and ends with the 150 anniversary. In between are milestones in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and subsequent mergers, acquisitions, expansions and technological innovations.

The company's main history site is a rich collection of interesting articles and images that includes documents, photo gallery and historical maps. The UP advertising posters are especially eye-catching.

PHOTO CREDIT: Portion of the mural painted in Sacramento's Amtrak Station that depicts the groundbreaking of the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad on Jan. 8, 1863. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Lezlie Sterling

June 28, 2012
Ride the train and help Railtown stay open

Sierra No 3.JPGRailtown 1897 SHP will offer train excursion rides this Independence Day holiday. Passengers can enjoy the famed Caboose No. 7 pulled by Sierra No. 3, the "Movie Star Locomotive" through beautiful Gold Country hills. In addition, the band Sequoia will perform old-time music on the Fourth.

Tickets for these 40-minute, six-mile jaunts are available for advance purchase online, or at the Park starting 10 a.m. on the day of the ride.

Railtown was one of the 70 state parks slated for closure last year. To help it stay open, the Sonora Area Foundation and Irving J. Symons Foundation and have donated a $75,000 matching grant. The deadline for raising matching funds is July 31. You can help with the effort by making a contribution online or in person at the Park.

What: Train Rides Behind Sierra No. 3 during 4th of July Holiday!
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: June 30, July 1 and 4. 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
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Sierra No. 3, the steam locomotive at Railtown in Jamestown (Tuolumne County). Courtesy Railtown 1897 SHP

June 28, 2012
John Muir's letters online

Muir_and_Roosevelt.JPGThere are some gems in Caliphere's latest "theme collection," The Letters of John Muir. Here you'll find important examples taken from the 6,000 pieces of correspondence sent and received by Muir from 1838 to 1914.

As a scientist, author and conservationist, Muir studied, celebrated and championed the natural world. These letters reflect his ongoing commitment to California's most beautiful (and fragile) wilderness areas -- notably the Yosemite Valley, which became an early national parks due in part by Muir's effective lobbying.

President Theodore Roosevelt was a powerful ally in the conservation movement. In May 1903 Muir spent three days camping in Yosemite with Roosevelt, whom he convinced to extend federal protection over the Valley and Mariposa Grove. Two months previously Muir wrote a graceful letter to the president saying that a prior commitment to go abroad wouldn't interfere with an invitation to go camping with TR:

Dear Mr. Roosevelt:

I sincerely thank you for the honor you do me in hoping I may be able to take you through the Yosemite. An engagement to go abroad with Professor Sargeant at first stood in the way; but a few small changes have brought our trip into harmony with yours. and of course I shall go with you gladly.

Faithfully yours,

Calisphere is web portal to the University of California System's vast collection of some 200,000 digital artifacts that include "photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifact." This free public resource reveals "the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.

PHOTO CREDIT: Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir survey the Yosemite Valley in 1903. Library of Congress

June 27, 2012
History Press publishes first Sacramento volume

K St book.jpgHeads up Arcadia -- there's a new kid on the block. Local history publisher History Press (which expanded into California last year) has announced its first volume for the Sacramento region.

Sacramento's K Street: Where Our City Was Born is an illustrated history of the commercial heart of the town. Author William Burg traces the street's evolution from Gold Rush storefront, through the boom times of hotels, department stories and movie palaces, up to contemporary downtown renewal.

Burg, a prominent local historian and preservationist, borrowed many of the book's images from the rich archives at the Center for Sacramento History.

Sacramento's K Street will be available in local stores next month. Meanwhile you can preorder it from History Press or Amazon.

P.S. See publisher's Q&A with author.

Sacramento's K Street: Where Our City Was Born
By William Burg
160 pages, over 70 images
$19.99

June 26, 2012
Local history research guides on Library website

Research Guides.JPGThe Sacramento Public Library website is often considered a library branch unto its own. Among its diverse digital offerings are Research Guides, extensive bibliographies on over thirty subjects ranging from genealogy to business statistics. Nine of the guides cover local history topics: Sacramento Neighborhood History, Native Americans, California Ghost Towns, Early Travels to and within California, Gold Mines and Mining, History of a House, History of the Gold Rush, and Sutter's Fort Characters.  The bibliographies reference a wide range of resources including books, periodicals, maps, reference files, and photographs, with links to catalog records and related websites.  In addition, the guides refer visitors to other libraries, archives, historical societies and associations that might offer further assistance.

Research Guides are available through the Services tab on the main library web page at www.saclibrary.org.

June 25, 2012
1861-62 Sacramento floods provide insight into current risk

1862_FLOOD.JPGThis year's Extreme Precipitation Symposium at UC Davis will look back 150 years to the devastating winter floods of 1861-62 to try to glean lessons for understanding the climate risks this region faces today.

Among the speakers will be Sacramento City Historian Marcia Eymann who will survey the past floods starting in 1850. Geomorphologist Rene Leclerc will describe the hydrology of the Sacramento River Valley before the construction of dams and levees. And meteorologist Larry Schick will consider the implications of the 1861-62 deluge for assessing the current flood potential.

The conference relies in part on the historic work of Leon Hunsaker and Claude Curran, whose 2005 study Lake Sacramento -- Can It Happen Again? is an authoritative estimate of the extreme temperature, rainfall and snowfall conditions that produced the worst floods in recorded history.

Hunsaker, who worked as a local TV weatherman in the 1960s and 70s, now lives near Grants Pass, Ore. According to a recent profile by Cosmo Garvin in the Sacramento News & Review, the 89-year-old retired meteorologist still watches California's climate and still worries the Central Valley won't be prepared for the next Big One.

What: California Extreme Precipitation Symposium: The 1861-1862 Floods: Informing Decisions 150 Years Later
Where: Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis
When: June 26, 7:45 am - 4:15 p.m.
Cost: $90 registration (students $45). Walk-in registrations will be accepted -- check or cash preferred.
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: A scene from Jan. 10, 1862 shows flooded K St., looking east from 4th St. Center for Sacramento History

June 25, 2012
Dixon vet's ship models help teach WWII naval history

Holbrook 2.jpgHeber Holbrook, 88, is a survivor of both the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the Naval Battle at Guadalcanal. As a way to remember his wartime experiences, he's made a hobby of collecting museum-quality models of important WWII naval ships.

The collection includes the USS Arizona (which sunk at Pearl Harbor), the USS Juneau (which was destroyed at Guadalcanal) and the USS San Francisco (on which Holbrook was wounded during the Guadalcanal battle).

As reported recently in the Dixon Tribune, Holbrook has been collecting ship models for 20 years. Eventually he wants to see the replicas donated to a naval museum on the West Coast. Until then he's loaned the Arizona for display at the Dixon Chamber of Commerce.

You can read the full profile of Mr. Holbrook on the Tribune's Facebook page.

Holbrook 1.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Heber Holbrook, right, and stands next to a model of the USS Arizona on display at the Dixon Chamber of Commerce. Looking on is Chamber Chief Administer Carol Pruett and Chamber President Bert Gaulke. Below, the USS Arizona replica made by Model Ship Masters of Los Angeles. Courtesy the Dixon Chamber and Dixon Tribune

June 24, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Mark Goodson

Mark Goodson.JPGBorn: Jan. 24, 1915
Died: Dec. 18, 1992

Known for: A Sacramento native, Goodson was the producer of dozens of television shows and creator of numerous game shows, including "The Price Is Right," "Family Feud" and "To Tell the Truth."

Background: Goodson was born to Russian immigrants Abraham E. and Fanny Gross Goodson. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1937. Two years later, he created his first game, "Pop the Question," for San Francisco radio station KFRC. In 1946, he and radio writer-director Bill Todman formed Goodson-Todman Productions. They developed methods that would serve them throughout their careers: Goodson refined the game-show format and Todman tested flaws in the rules and worked out the financial angles. Some of their shows included "What's My Line" (1950-67), "To Tell the Truth" (1956-67), "Concentration" (1958-73), "Match Game" (1973-1979) and the second version of "The Price is Right," which debuted in 1972.

A highlight: Goodson earned a Lifetime Achievement for Daytime Television Emmy Award, and in 1993 he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

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.

June 22, 2012
Book explores the politics and culture of the 1980s

The Eighties.jpgIf you're of a certain age, the 1980s don't seem like a subject for historians. Too fresh in memory for some, but not for Sacramento State history professor Joseph A. Palmero.

Palmero is author of a new textbook The Eighties, a survey of political, cultural and technological developments is intended "to deepen students' understanding of the 1980s and pique their curiosity to learn more about the decade." The period is, of course, dominated by the Reagan presidency and much of the book covers his election, administration and domestic and foreign policies.

But there's also space devoted to non-governmental politics (nuclear freeze, race relations, gay rights), health (HIV/AIDS), popular culture (Madonna/Springsteen, Hip-Hop, culture wars) and business (technology, Wall Street, S&L Crisis).

KXJZ's new radio host Beth Ruyak interviewed Prof. Palmero about The Eighties in a recent episode of Insight.

June 21, 2012
Lecture explains Russian influence in early California history

Fort Ross.JPGAmong the nations that settled California before it became a state were Russians who came to hunt seal and whale along the northern coast. The focus of this trade was Fort Ross, a long-gone settlement in Sonoma County which flourished between 1812 and 1842. In addition to the Russians, many other groups lived and worked in Fort Ross: Siberians, Alaskan and California Indians, African-Americans, Hawaiians and Japanese.

Fort Ross and Russia's role in the development of early California will be explored in an illustrated lecture sponsored by the Sacramento County Historical Society.

The featured speaker is John Allen, an adjunct history professor at Los Rios Community College, who is a former board member of the Fort Ross Interpretive Association and has served as a consulting historian on Fort Ross State Park projects. He's also been a costumed interpreter for many of the park's Living History Day events.

What: The Russians Are Coming: The Unknown Story of Russian California
Where: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento
When: June 26, 7 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: Fort Ross, built by the Russians when they hunted the Pacific for whales and seals. At one time this was the easternmost extension of czarist Russia. 1997 Scripps Howard News Service photograph by Thomas R. McDonough

June 20, 2012
Headstone dedication for Civil War dead at Truckee cemetery

California is a long way from the battlegrounds of the U.S. Civil War. So it may surprise you that 22 known veterans of that 19th century conflict are buried at the Sierra Mountain Cemetery in Truckee. Ten of the soldiers' graves are marked with headstones; six are not. And six others recently got new headstones.

To dedicate those new grave markers and honor all the Civil War vets, local historical groups have organized a special ceremony at the cemetery next Saturday. Participating in the dedication will be U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Battle Born Civil War Reenactors, the Fort Point Garrison Civil War Band, Patriot Guard Riders, the Truckee Civil Air Patrol and the Mountain Belles.

The military call Taps (celebrating its 150th anniversary this year) will be played on an authentic Civil War bugle.

What: Civil War Veteran Headstone Dedication Ceremony
Where: Sierra Mountain Cemetery, East Jibboom Street, Truckee. Parking available in the field to the east of the cemetery, but space is limited, so try to car pool.
When: June 23, 10 a.m.
Cost: free
For more info: website

Event brochure

June 19, 2012
More adults-only evening tours of Underground Sacramento
Underground Pit.JPG

Due to popular demand Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is offering additional "adults-only" evening tours of the "underground" city. Led by knowledgeable docents in period attire, these special 90-minute excursions explore "some of the dark secrets and racy tales lurking in Sacramento's" past.

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

What: Underground Adult Evening Tours!
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m., June 21, July 12 & 26, Aug. 9 & 23, Sept. 6 & 20 (advance online tickets available now).
Cost: $20 (only guests 21 and older will be admitted)
For more info: 916-808-7059

PHOTO CREDIT: Underground space in Old Sacramento. Courtesy Historic Old Sacramento Foundation

June 18, 2012
Folsom History Museum invites families to relive a night in history

Folsom Pioneer VillageOn Saturday, June 23, the Folsom Historical Society and Folsom History Museum invite families to RELIVING! A Night in History: June 23, 1862. In celebration of 150 years of the Folsom's history, participants will gather at Folsom Pioneer Village for a BBQ dinner and activities that include gold panning, doll making, a blacksmithing demonstration, storytelling, and Bluegrass music.

This is the first annual Night in History program at Pioneer Village and proceeds will benefit the volunteer-run operation. Period and western attire is encouraged.

What: RELIVING! A Night in History: June 23, 1862
When: Saturday, June 23, 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Where: Folsom History Museum Pioneer Village (200 Wool St., Folsom)
Cost: $35 for adults; $15 for children 12 and under
For more info: (916) 985-2707

PHOTO CREDIT: A docent demonstrates the use of a water pump to children at Folsom Pioneer Village. Courtesy Folsom History Museum.

June 17, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Lisa Ling

Lisa Ling.JPGBorn: Aug. 30, 1973

Known for: Lisa Ling, who grew up in Carmichael, is a television journalist who has been a co-host on ABC's "The View" and is a special correspondent on "The "Oprah Winfrey Show."

Background: A Del Campo High School graduate, Ling was 16 when she was picked to be a host of "Scratch," a syndicated TV show for teens made in Sacramento. Two years later, she was a reporter for Channel One, a network broadcast in middle and high schools. By 25, Ling was Channel One's senior war correspondent. She reported from dozens of countries and produced eight documentaries for PBS. In 1999, she joined the "The View" morning talk show led by Barbara Walters. She left the show in 2002 to become host of National Geographic's series "Explorer," where she reported on issues as varied as a drug war in Colombia and female suicide bombers in Chechnya. She also conducts investigative reports for the "Oprah" show, including follow-ups on Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech shootings.

A highlight: In April 2001, she completed running the Boston Marathon with a time of 4:34 while raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer.

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.

June 15, 2012
General history tour at Historic City Cemetery

General History by Anita Lincoln.jpgThis Saturday's Historic City Cemetery tour honors important movers and shakers who helped develop Sacramento in its earliest days. As usual, knowledgeable docents will share fascinating historical insights about the city as they lead visitors past interesting grave markers and beautiful landscaping.

What: General History Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: June 16, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated that will go to cemetery preservation and restoration.
For more info: 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811 or view website

Event flyer
News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Crocker family monument in Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery. Photograph by Anita Lincoln

June 14, 2012
Father's Day offerings at the rail museums

SP Diesel 6051.jpgTake Dad for a train ride this Father's Day. Both the State Railroad Museum and its sister attraction, Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, will be offering excursions pulled by vintage steam and diesel locomotives.

Railtown's famous "Movie Star Locomotive" Sierra No. 3 and Caboose No. 7 will take guests for the six-mile, 40-minute excursion through the beautiful Gold Country foothills. And to celebrate the holiday dads (and granddads) will receive commemorative Belgium chocolate bars, while the kids get balloons.

In Old Sacramento the usual excursion trains will be running every hour taking passengers for a scenic 40-minute jaunt along the Sacramento River. Buy tickets online or first come, first served on the day of the ride. A special treat this Sunday is the display of seven rarely-seen vintage diesel locomotives -- two inside the museum, five outside the building.

What: "Diesels & Dads" on Father's Day!
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Special diesels on display inside and outside the Museum. Excursion trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot (on Front St. between J and K Sts.).
When: June 17, 2012. Museum hours 10 to 5 p.m. Special diesels on display from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Weekend excursion train rides depart hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission: $9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under. Excursion train rides: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under ($15 for first class tickets aboard the El Dorado).
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

What: Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides on Father's Day!
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: June 17, 2012. Excursion trains depart hourly from 11 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 website

News releases

PHOTO CREDIT: Southern Pacific Diesel 6051 locomotive. Courtesy California State Road Museum

June 13, 2012
Sutter's Fort evokes time before statehood

FLAG AT SUTTERS FORT.JPGBefore California became a state in 1850, three national forces -- Mexican, American and independent -- struggled for control over the territory. Sutter Fort's "Hands on History" series continues with a program describing the tension and uncertainty of that period.

Visitors will witness cannon firings and musket demonstrations, listen to mock public debates and examine period weapons. Younger folks will get to re-create colorful period flags of their own.

What: Hands on History: Three Flags, One Fort
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: June 16. Fort hours: 10 to 5 p.m. Cannon firing demonstrations: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. Musket demonstrations periodically throughout the day
Cost: $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 years and under.
For more info: 916-445-4422 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Early on the morning of July 11, 1846. The flag was sent from Sonoma by Lieutenant Joseph Warren Revere, USN, carried by courier William Scott, sent by order of Commodore John Drake Sloat, USN, commanding the Pacific Squadron. The flag was raised by Captain John A. Sutter. This picture is from a book on Sloat's life. Reproduced from the original in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

June 12, 2012
Pony Express Re-Ride begins in Sacramento this year

PONY EXPRESS.JPGUPDATE (6/13/12): See The Bee's coverage of today's launch of the Pony Express re-enactment.

The Pony Express delivered mail from Missouri to California for just a brief time in the early 1860s. But the romance of those intrepid riders racing across the country lives on in the annual reenactment by the National Pony Express Association.

Last year's "Re-Ride" started in St. Joseph, Mo. and ended in Sacramento. But this year's 1,966-mile gallop begins in Sacramento and ends ten days later in Missouri. Some 600 riders, each taking a leg of the journey, are expected to participate. You can help send off the first rider tomorrow in Old Sacramento. Just stop by the Pony Express Monument at 10 a.m.

What: Pony Express Re-Ride
Where: Pony Express Plaza, 2nd and J Sts., Old Sacramento
When: June 13, 10 a.m.
Cost: free
For more info: NPEA website

PHOTO CREDIT: Pony Express monument in Old Sacramento. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Andy Alfaro

June 11, 2012
Author to speak on WWII armored vehicle maker

Pressed Steel.jpgThe State Military Museum's next "Meet the Author" lecture features Kenneth Nielsen speaking on Pressed Steel!, a book recounting the wartime activities of the Pressed Steel Car Company.

Founded in 1899 to manufacture freight, passenger and street railway cars, Pressed Steel would become one of major producers of armored vehicles for the U.S. Army. The firm made large numbers of essential M4 Sherman tanks during WWII and later produced the M7, M12 and M40 self-propelled guns and the T-29 Heavy Tank.

Nielsen is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who served in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps. He currently is Commander of the California Center for Military History.

What: Pressed Steel!: An American Company's Contribution to Victory in World War II
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St.
When: June 12, 1 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-854-1900 or website

June 10, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Albert A. Van Voorhies

VOORHIES_ALBERT.JPGBorn: 1834
Died: April 26, 1906

Known for: Albert A. Van Voorhies was a prominent businessman who operated a harness and saddlery factory. He also built a notable house in what is now the Aklali Flat neighborhood of Sacramento.

Background: Born in New Jersey, Van Voorhies came to California in 1853. Trained as a saddle and harness maker, he came to Hangtown (now Placerville) in 1855 and opened a wholesale and retail business during the later stages of the Gold Rush. His business thrived. He was often called "The Prince" because, according to the book, "Vanishing Victorians," he was considered "the finest type of cultured pioneer." He ran a wholesale-retail leather goods store downtown and also a harness factory, producing more than 150 horse collars a day.

A highlight: In 1868, Van Voorhies built a stuccoed brick home in the Italianate and Georgian style at 925 G St. The home was later scheduled to be replaced by a parking lot, but was saved. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.

June 9, 2012
New history displays in the Sacramento Room

Sacramento music display.JPG Six new displays are ready for viewing in the Sacramento Room at the Central Library, each highlighting diverse resources from the library's special collections and archives.

Displays on the history of weddings in Sacramento and on summer activities through the years are located at the entrance to the Sacramento Room. Four additional displays are located inside the reading room. A Sacramento music display draws from the Sacramento Musicians and Songwriters special collection as well as the ephemera and manuscript collections, and includes sheet music, CDs, record albums and posters. "Sacramento Free Library, 1879" gives a snapshot of the library the year it became a public institution. This display includes books that were in the original library collection, photographs, and examples of early library records. Another case features eye-catching books from the special Children's Collection, and Sacramento fiction is the subject of the last display, with examples of books set in Sacramento locales.

The displays will be available to view during open hours through the end of July.

PHOTO: Sacramento music display inside the Sacramento Room.

June 8, 2012
Old Sacramento walking tours resume

OLD SAC TOUR 01.JPGSummertime "above ground" walking tours resume in Old Sacramento this weekend.

Sacramento City: California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour, conducted by docents in period attire, introduces guests to 1850s Sacramento using original and reconstructed Gold Rush-era buildings as a backdrop.

Architectural Tour: From Canvas to Brick refers to various building styles to explain the evolution of Sacramento from tent city to established state capital.

Both events last about an hour. You can purchase advance tickets online, by telephone (916-808-7059) or in person at the Sacramento History Museum.

What: "Above Ground" Walking Tours in Old Sacramento
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St.
When: Saturdays and Sundays thru August starting June 9. Gold Rush Legacy Tour, 11 a.m. Sacramento Architectural Tour, 1 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person. Free for children 5 and younger.
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Gregory Tracy leads a tour in Old Sacramento portraying D. B. Fry, a justice of the peace and militia Captain in the 1850s. 2005 Sacramento Bee photograph by Renee C. Byer

June 7, 2012
Go Climb a Rock

Yosemite #8.bmpThose of you visiting the California State Library for its annual Juneteenth exhibit will also want to climb the stairs or take the elevator to the library's second floor. There, the theme of the California History Section's monthly featured book exhibit is "Go Climb a Rock," showcasing the state's fabulous scenic wonder-Yosemite! You will see books on every aspect of Yosemite, including children's stories, photographic and artistic views throughout the years, its Native Americans, conservation efforts, and the stewardship of the park under the United States Army. Drop by the State Library's California History Room at 900 N Street, Room 200 between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and partake in the glory of one of this state's (and this country's) natural treasures.

As an added treat, shown here are two nineteenth-century images of Yosemite from the library's collection. These, along with many other fine photographs and prints, can be accessed in the California State Library's online photo catalog.Yosemite #1.bmp

June 7, 2012
HOSF holds fundraising river cruise

Empress_Above_4c.jpg"Rollin' on the River" is this year's The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation fundraiser honoring both restauranteur Lina Fat and the 100-year-old I St. Bridge.

The evening cruise aboard the Empress Hornblower features an elegant dinner, 19th century gambling, a champagne toast for the I Street Bridge and a silent auction. Proceeds will go to support ongoing programs provided by the Foundation.

Advanced tickets are available for purchase online, at the Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street or by calling 916-808-7059.

What: Rollin' on the River! Honoring Lina Fat and a 100th Birthday Salute to the I Street Bridge!
Where: Aboard the Empress Hornblower. Old Sacramento waterfront, 1206 Front St.
When: June 14. 5-6 p.m. -- VIP Reception at Sacramento History Museum. 6-8:30 p.m. -- Cruise down the Sacramento River
Cost: $75 for River Cruise only; $125 for VIP Reception & River Cruise
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Empress Hornblower. Courtesy Hornblower Cruises & Events

June 6, 2012
Capitol Concours d'Elegance shows off a variety of vehicles

Chevy police car.jpgSacramento will host its own "concours d'elegance" (a competition in which vehicles are judged by their appearance, condition and authenticity) this Sunday on the Capitol Mall.

A wide variety of classic cars will be on display, such as a very rare 1948 Tucker Torpedo, a 1954 Kaiser Darrin, a 1965 Sunbeam Tiger and a 1929 Rolls Royce. This year's show also features three special categories: Streamliners (including Lincoln Zephyrs, Chrysler Airflows, and Packards), Hollywood Cars (such as the Fiat 500, model for "Luigi" in the animated movie Cars) and Vintage Emergency (like the Chevy squad car pictured above).

If that weren't enough, Capitol Concours also boasts a Food Truck competition to determine the best vehicle design and the best food among a field of ten local trucks.

Since this program is staffed completely by volunteers, all proceeds will be donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children and the California Automobile Museum.

What: Capitol Concours d'Elegance
Where: Capitol Mall
When: June 10, 10 to 3:30 p.m. See schedule of events.
Cost: $20 for spectators. Order tickets online
For more info: email, call 916-442-6802 or see website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Vintage 1963 Chevrolet police car. Courtesy California Automobile Museum

June 6, 2012
More opportunities to tour Underground Sacramento

SAC UNDERGROUND.JPGWith the return of long days and warm weather, the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation has extended its schedule of tours into the cool regions of Underground Sacramento.

These hour-long, docent-led excursions celebrate the 19th century street-raising effort that protected the old 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. The tours are popular, so advanced ticket purchases are recommended.

What: Old Sacramento Underground Tours - Expanded Summer Schedule
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Continuing thru November. June 1 - 17 -- tours offered Thursdays through Sundays, departing every half hour 10:30 to 3 p.m. June 18 - Sept. 3 -- tours offered seven days a week, departing at 11, 12:30 and 2 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and every half hour from 10:30 to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Expanded tour schedule available over Labor Day weekend.
Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for HOSF members; $10 for children
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Benjamin Ismail as William "Mac" Gwin gives a tour of the B.F. Hastings building basement, a historically significant building in Old Sacramento. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael Allen Jones

June 5, 2012
New tractor exhibit at the Heidrick Ag History Center
Heidrick.JPG

The Heidrick Ag History Center will kick off its new interactive exhibit with a special reception next week. The museum will showcase ten antique tractors which visitors can learn about using their cell phones to hear prerecorded historical information on each item.

Ed and Sue Claessen, authors of Making Tracks: C.L Best & The Caterpillar Tractor Co., and collectors Doug and Matt Veerkamp will be on hand to provide historical insights on the Caterpiller company and the Caterpiller equipment housed at the museum.

Reception guests will also be treated to appetizers and tastings from Berryessa Gap, Capay Valley Vineyards, Copper Hill Olive Oil, Lucero Oil, Putah Creek Winery, Simas Family Vineyard, and Seka Hills Wine & Olive Oil.

The Heidrick Ag History Center, comprised of the Fred C. Heidrick Antique Ag Collection and the Hays Antique Truck Collection, is the largest assemblage of antique truck and tractors in North America.

What: Reception to open a new interactive exhibit
Where: Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland
When: June 13, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $20. Free to annual museum members.
For more info/RSVP by June 8: 530-666-9700 or email

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Heidrick Ag History Center

June 5, 2012
California State Library's Juneteenth exhibit documents history

Juneteenth will be celebrated June 19, but the California State Library is getting a jump on the holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of the last slaves in America, on June 19, 1865.

The library's Juneteenth National Freedom Day Exhibit 2012 features "historical items that document the African American experience," taken from the library's collection. Among them are:

- The first California printing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
- A copy of the Thirteenth Amendment, which forbids slavery and involuntary servitude.
- Rare books on slavery and the Abolitionist Movement.
- A transcript of the 1839 Amistad Slavery Trial.
- Art by African American illustrator Grafton Tyler Brown.

The exhibit is on display now through July 31, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 900 N St., Sacramento.

More information: www.library.ca.gov.

-- Allen Pierleoni

June 5, 2012
Alhambra Theatre remembered at preservation meeting

AlhambraDemo126.jpgThis quarter's Sacramento Preservation Roundtable features a photo presentation recalling efforts to save the Alhambra Theatre in 1972 through rock and vaudeville benefit shows. These concert photos, plus images of the movie palace's ultimate demolition in 1973, were shot by CSUS Hornet reporter Doug Taggart. Dennis Newhall, former KZAP music director and curator of Sacramento's Rock & Radio Museum, and SOCA President William Burg will provide historical commentary on the "Save the Alhambra" music and campaign.

In addition, the Roundtable will include an update on citywide historic preservation projects, a look at Old Sacramento's newly revised general plan, and a special presentation about the closure of many California historic post offices, including Sacramento's old post office and federal building.

What: Sacramento Preservation Roundtable: Images of the Alhambra
Where: The Urban Hive, 1931 H St., Sacramento
When: June 9, 9 to 12 p.m.
Cost: $5 donation, includes continental breakfast
For more info: email Sacramento Old City Association or call 916-202-4815

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Demolition of the Alhambra Theatre in 1973. Photograph by Doug Taggart

June 5, 2012
New exhibit honors 100 years of Girl Scouting

GSUSA_100thGuide_0004115.jpgThe California Museum will celebrate the Centennial of Girl Scouting with a new interactive exhibit documenting the history and achievements of the worldwide organization dedicated to the development of young women. The displays of rare artifacts -- vintage uniforms, books, badges and photographs -- help tell the story of Girl Scouts, whose members include founder Juliette Gordon Low, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and California Museum Trustee Lisa Ling.

Girl Scouts Heart of Central California will hold a special 100th Anniversary Gala at the California Museum on June 22 (5:30-7:30 p.m.).

What: The Girl Scout Promise -- 100 Years of Girl Scouting in California
Where: The California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: June 7 thru Sept. 30. Tuesday thru Saturday: 10 to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 12 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Admission: adults, $8.50; seniors 65+ and college students with valid ID, $7; youth (ages 6-17), $6; children (5 & under), free.
For more info: (916) 653-7524 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Girl Scouts Heart of Central California

June 4, 2012
Gold Rush Day at Angel's Camp

Teaching Prospecting 1.jpgAngel's Camp (home of that celebrated jumping frog) holds its annual Gold Rush Day this Saturday.

Docents in period garb will be on hand to demonstrate mid-19th century gold prospecting, fashions, food, children's games and military weapons. In addition, visitors will see gold panning, a frog jump competition and a stamp mill operation.

This is one day of the year admission to the Angel's Camp Museum is free.

What: Gold Rush Day
Where: Angel's Camp Museum, 753 S. Main St. on Hwy 49, Angels Camp
When: June 9, 9 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (209) 736-2963 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Living historians demonstrate gold prospecting during the 2011 Gold Rush Day at Angel's Camp. Courtesy Angel's Camp Museum

June 3, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Alice Miller

ALICE MILLER.JPGBorn: May 15, 1956

Known for: The Marysville native is one the area's most successful golfers, winning eight tournaments during a 15-year career on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

Background: Miller, who honed her game at Plumas Lake Golf and Country Club in Marysville, graduated from Arizona State University in 1978, the first year she competed on the LPGA tour. She captured seven LPGA events from 1983-85, including four in 1985. That year, she won the Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament, one of the LPGA's major events. Asked about her success during those three years, she told The Bee in 2003, "I think it was just a matter of getting in position enough times that sooner or later you just fall out of the tree. And once you do as a young player, you realize you don't have to play perfect golf to win. I think people who haven't won think everything has to go their way." She earned $1.1 million during her playing career.

A highlight: Miller was the LPGA's Comeback Player of the Year in 1991, when she won the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. She has also served as president of the LPGA's executive committee.

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.

June 1, 2012
Stonecutters celebrated and lost markers dedicated at Historic Cemetery

gravemarker.JPGSacramento's early gravemarkers were works of art in marble and granite. Visitors at this Saturday's tour will see some of the most beautiful hand-carved stones in the Historic City Cemetery. Knowledgeable docents will explain the stories and symbols behind the artifacts.

Later on Saturday the City Cemetery will reunite "lost" gravemarkers that were separated from the graves of early Sacramentans who were originally buried in the defunct New Helvetia Cemetery. The dedication ceremony will feature monuments connected to the Reeves, Jurgens, Asch and Bonetti families.

Valley Community Newspapers recently published a story about the rediscovery of the Asch Family tombstone lost for some 50 years.

What: Stonecutters: Sacramento's First Artists / Lost and Found: New Helvetia Revisited
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: June 2. Stonecutters, 10 a.m. New Helvetia Dedication, 11:30 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations greatly appreciated to help with cemetery restoration
For more info: (916) 264-5621 or website

News release (New Helvetia)
News release (Stonecutters)

PHOTO CREDIT: Ersiglio Bonetti Monument. This gravemarker was brought into the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery approximately 20 years ago by a homeowner who found it in the yard of a home he had recently purchased. Courtesy Old City Cemetery Committee



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 mdolgushkin@library.ca.gov.

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 agraham@saclibrary.org.

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 pbasofin@sacbee.com.

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