Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

July 31, 2012
Third Annual Music Fest at Railtown 1897

Railtown singing rails 2010.JPGThroughout American history trains and songs have been inexorably linked. In honor of this happy connection, Railtown 1897 (home of those movie-star steam locomotives) invites the public to its 3rd annual Singing Rails Music Festival.

Headlining the evening is influential folksinger Mary McCaslin who sings traditional ballads and her own contemporary songs of the West. Opening for McCaslin are the Sierra Mountain Band (traditional western and bluegrass) and Faux Renwah (old-timey).

The performances will be held outside on the Roundhouse lawn. Though food and beverages will available for purchase, guests are encouraged to their own lawn chairs, blankets and picnic fixings.

What: "Singing Rails" Railroad Music Festival
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: Aug. 4. 5 p.m., Sierra Mountain Band; 6 p.m., Faux Renwah; 7 p.m., Mary McCaslin.
Cost: Advance online tickets -- $10 for adults; free for children 12 and under. At the gate (if still available) -- $12 for adults; free for children 12 and under.
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Chris and Bob of Faux Renwah at 2010 Singing Rails. Courtesy Railtown 1897 SHP

July 30, 2012
More ink sketches of historic train depots at the State Railroad Museum

Menlo Park SP LR.jpgArtist Walter J. Wedlock began sketching vintage train stations in the 1970s in an effort to preserve them in ink before a third of them were torn down. The resulting collection of 52 drawings and one watercolor were eventually donated to the California State Railroad Museum.

Last year the museum unveiled 26 of the works in a special exhibition. Starting Friday the public will be able to view the rest of the sketches. Included in "Phase Two" are depots in Menlo Park (completed in 1867), Placentia (1910) and two in Fullerton (1922 and 1930). The artwork will remain on display until March 4 of next year.

What: Wedlock's Gift: California Railroad Depot Images In Ink - Phase Two
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: August 3 through March 4, 2013
Cost: $9 adults; $4 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under
For more info: 916-445-6645 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Menlo Park Southern Pacific Depot. Opened in 1867 and still serves passengers today.

July 29, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Scott Pruett

Scott Pruett.jpgBorn: March 24, 1960

Known for: Roseville native Scott Pruett, a professional race car driver for 26 years, has won nine major championships. In 1989, he was the Indianapolis 500 co-rookie of the year.

Background: Pruett began driving go-karts when he was 9 and in 1981 won the World Karting Championship. He continued to excel in other racing divisions, winning International Motorsports Association championships in 1986 and 1988, and Trans Am titles in 1987, 1995 and 2003. He began racing Indy cars in 1988 and started the 1989 Indy 500 race in the 17th spot. He finished 10th and competed three more times (1991, '92 and '95). He began driving in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Nextel Cup) in 2000. He won the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series champion and placed second in this year's series, only two points behind the leader.

A highlight: Pruett was voted an International Race of Champions legend in 2005 in the road-racing category. He and his wife, Judy, have authored three children's books, "Twelve Little Race Cars," "Twelve More Little Race Cars" and "Rookie Racer."

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.

July 27, 2012
Crest Theatre to show films on Playland, Sutro Baths

On Sunday, August 5, the Crest Theatre will be screening documentary films on two former beloved San Francisco attractions, Playland at the Beach and the Sutro Baths.  Remembering Playland at the Beach (2010) and Sutro's: The Palace at Lands End (2011) were written and directed by Bay Area filmmaker Tom Wyrsch, who will be in attendance for a Q&A period following each film.  The films will be presented as a double bill for a single admission price.

Remembering Playland at the Beach
This full-length documentary film tells the history of San Francisco's famous 10-acre seaside amusement park, Playland at the Beach. Located next to Ocean Beach, it was torn down in 1972 to make way for a condominium development. Gone now for more than 3 decades, it remains one of the city's lost treasures. (60m)

Sutro's: The Palace at Lands End
Tells the story of San Francisco's privately owned swimming, ice-skating and museum complex built in the late 19th century. Once the world's largest swimming pool establishment, the building burnt down in 1966. The ruins remain today. Journey back in time to revisit Sutro Baths when it was in full operation. A nostalgic trip back in time told by historians and the people that were there. (84m)

What: Playland at the Beach and Sutro Baths documentaries at Crest Theatre
When: Sunday, August 5, 1 p.m. (144 minutes)
Where: Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street, Sacramento
For more info: (916) 442-7378;

July 26, 2012
Living History Day is a look back to Sacramento's early days

Old Sac Living History Day.jpgEver wonder what life was like in Sacramento 160 years ago when the city was young?

Join the Old Sacramento docents this Saturday for a look at life in the 1850s. Appearing in period garb, they'll give you an up-close demonstration of vintage handicrafts, games of chance and blacksmithing. You can also quench your thirst the old-fashioned way with sarsaparilla and root beer.

What: Summer Living History Day
Where: Waterfront Park in Old Sacramento
When: July 28, 11 to 3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

PHOTO CAPTION: Docent in period garb greets a young visitor at Living History Day in Old Sacramento. Courtesy Sacramento History Museum

July 25, 2012
Russians in early California celebrated in book and festival
So Far From Home.jpg

For thirty years between 1812 and 1841, Russian explorers maintained an outpost on the northern California coast which flourished for a time as a farming, manufacturing and fur-trade center. These early entrepreneurs established the first windmills, brickyards and shipbuilding in the state. They also systematically mapped the region and studied the local plants and animals.

Using government documents, personal journals and letters, cartoons and excerpts of novels, retired archaeologist Glenn J. Farris has compiled a lively anthology that chronicles the history of Fort Ross and its diverse residents: Kashaya, Coast Miwok and Alaskan Natives, Spanish, Mexicans, Americans, as well as Russians. So Far From Home: Russians in Early Calfornia, published recently by Heyday Books ($21.95, 352 pages), is intended for both general readers and historians.

Fort Ross Historic State Park was created in 1909 to preserve the site and educate the public about the contributions of the Russian pioneers to California's economic and cultural development. To celebrate the bicentennial of its founding, Fort Ross staff and volunteers have organized an extensive two-day festival filled with traditional food, crafts, music, dance, and theatrical performances. A highlight is the special appearance by the Pyatnitsky Russian Folk Choir, the world-renowned folkloric ensemble from Moscow.

What: Fort Ross Bicentennial Weekend
Where: Fort Ross Conservancy, 19005 Coast Highway One, Jenner
When: July 28 (10 to 7 p.m.) and July 29 (10 to 4:30 p.m.)
Cost: $35 per car
For more info: 707-847-3437 or website

Event poster
Event schedule

July 24, 2012
Another chance to see "Rob on the Road's" visit to the State Library

In case you missed last night's Rob on the Road segment featuring a tour of the State Library's special collections vault, you can still watch it courtesy of KVIE. Click on the image below and visit the show's web site.

Watch Treasures of the California State Library on PBS. See more from Rob on the Road.

July 23, 2012
California History honors the Golden Gate Bridge and Julia Morgan

Groundbreaking architecture, big and small, is celebrated in main articles of the latest edition of California History (the journal of the California Historical Society).

"Bridging the Golden Gate: a Photo Essay" (page 9) is a richly illustrated historical survey of the movement of people between Marin County and San Francisco from the earliest years of Spanish exploration up to the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. Vintage maps, photos, paintings, drawings, posters and other images vividly invoke the conception, design and construction of one of the architectural wonders of the world.

"Women Who Build: Julia Morgan & Women's Institutions" considers early feminism in the state by examining "the most expansive body of architecture designed of, by, and for women." Central to the piece is Julia Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California. Although best known for her work on the grandiose Hearst Castle, Morgan built dozens of buildings commissioned by women to serve and empower women and girls. These include: the Asilomar Conference Center; the Mills College library, gymnasium and bell tower; YWCA buildings in Pasadena, Riverside, Hollywood, Oakland and San Francisco's Chinatown; and the Women's City Club in Berkeley.

Locally, Morgan is known for her design of the Goethe House (aka Julia Morgan House) at 3731 T St. in the Elmhurst neighborhood. The 7,200 square-foot historic treasure was put up for sale this year by the Sacramento State College Foundation. Current asking price: $1.7 million.

July 22, 2012
In History's Spotlight: R. Burnett Miller

MILLER_BURNETT.JPGBorn: Sept. 2, 1923

Known for: Sacramento native R. Burnett Miller served as the city's mayor and on the City Council. He was one of the area residents featured in the recent Ken Burns documentary "The War" on PBS.

Background: Miller, whose father ran a lumber business, graduated from McClatchy High School. He was a college sophomore when World War II began. He served in the 21st Armored Infantry Battalion, 11th Armored Division, during the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Miller earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He later went to Georgetown University before joining the family business. He served on the City Council from 1971 to 1977 and was appointed interim mayor in 1982, after Phil Isenberg was elected to the state Assembly. Miller, an arts lover, has raised funds for many local organizations, including Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento Symphony and Sacramento History Center.

A highlight: Miller is the great-great grandson of Henry Burnett, who in 1865 founded the Telegraph Mill on Eighth and P streets. The business became Burnett & Sons Planing Mill & Lumber Co

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.

July 20, 2012
Malakoff Diggins Park reopens today

Bloomfield.JPGCalifornia State Parks has announced that Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park will reopen today.

Daily operation of the facility ceased in November 2011 due to budget cutbacks. But new state money will allow the park to be open to the public Friday through Sunday this summer. A pending agreement with the Malakoff Diggins Park Association, the Olmsted Park Fund, South Yuba River Citizens League and other groups should insure ongoing operation.

Located 34 miles northeast of Grass Valley, Malakoff Diggins is historically important for being the site of the world's largest hydraulic mine that dates back to 1852. A mining camp, Humbug City grew up nearby and developed into the bustling little town of North Bloomfield. Despite legal challenges by those concerned with debris washing into rivers, hydraulic mining continued at Malakoff until 1910.

Today visitors can see the historic buildings and mining equipment in North Bloomfield. There's also a museum and gift shop where you can catch talks and tours on the weekends.

Park brochure

PHOTO CREDIT: A water cannon once used to blast away hillsides in search of gold is on display alongside the historic buildings of North Bloomfield in Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. 1998 Sacramento Bee photograph by Dick Schmidt

July 19, 2012
Oral history project looking for Bay Bridge veterans
Bay Bridge010.jpg

Did you help design and build the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge? Are you among the toll takers, managers, engineers, maintenance people, painters, architects and others who worked at the bridge between 1936 and 1960?

Well UC Berkeley is looking for you. Specifically the Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History Office, which wants to add your recollections to the historical record that will help future generations understand the role of the bridge in the development of the Bay Area.

If you (or someone you know) has such experience, contact ROHO Project Manager Sam Redman at or call 510-643-2106.

Incidentally, Caltrans maintains a terrific timeline of Bay Bridge history that's richly illustrated with photos, drawings and other artifacts.

PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press photograph of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (looking west from the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel) taken a week before its official opening on Nov. 12, 1936.

July 18, 2012
Sutter's Fort before the Gold Rush

Folklorico Aztlan de Sacramento.JPGEven before the Gold Rush Sutter's Fort was a lively community with a diverse populace. The next "Hands on History" day makes that pre-1848 era come alive with reenactments, demonstrations and performance.

Saturday the Fort and the Indian Museum will partner to give visitors the opportunity to experience the games, crafts, clothing and food of various early peoples. They'll see demonstrations of period weapons, soapstone carving, basket-making and acorn preparation, and have a chance to try out bead stringing and doll making.

In addition, the cultural group Folklorico Aztlan de Sacramento will perform traditional Mexican dances.

What: Hands on History: They Came From All Over the World - Before the Gold Rush
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park & State Indian Museum, 2701 L Street & 2618 K Street, Sacramento
When: July 21, 10 to 5 p.m. Fort cannon firing demonstrations: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. Fort musket demonstrations periodically throughout the day
Cost: Combo ticket prices - $7 for adults and $5 for youths ages 6-17
(children 5 and under are free).
For more info: 916-445-4422 or visit Sutter's Fort website or 916-324-0971 or visit State Indian Museum website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Folklorico Aztlan de Sacramento. Courtesy of Fairytale Town

July 17, 2012
An evening at the Governor's Mansion

GMANSION0193.JPGWith the generosity of Raley's customers, the Governor's Mansion will continue to be open to the public. You can help insure its continued operation by attending a special evening fundraiser sponsored by the Sacramento Old City Association in support of the California State Historic Governor's Mansion Foundation.

Guests at the event will be treated to edibles by Plates Catering, entertainment by the Doug Pauly Trio and a tours led by knowledgeable docent (including a peek at the third floor restoration). Historian Paul Ivazes will also speak on "How Gas Lighting Changed America."

The Governor's Mansion was originally built as a private residence for the Albert Gallatin family in 1877. Take a virtual tour of the building and its furnishings here.

What: An Evening with the Governors
Where: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park, 1526 H St., Sacramento
When: July 28, 6 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $80 (includes food, beverages, music and tour). Buy tickets online.
For more info: website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Dining Room in the Governor's Mansion. 2012 Sacramento Bee photograph by Hector Amezcua

July 16, 2012
"Rob on the Road" show featuring State Library treasures rescheduled

The KVIE "Rob on the Road" program originally scheduled for 7:30PM on  July 16, reported in this blog on July 13, has been rescheduled for Monday, July 23, also at 7:30. Special Collections Librarian Emeritus Gary Kurutz will take everyone to the deepest recesses of the California State Library's fabled vault, and will showcase rare books, photos, and manuscripts.

After airing on KVIE this episode will be available for national distribution by the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

PS: If you miss the program, you can stream it online here.

July 16, 2012
Art, food and fun -- 1960s style

KONDOS AIRPORT NOV.JPGAs a benefit for the Center for Contemporary Art Sacramento, SacMod (Sacramento Modern) is hosting Art-a-Go-Go, a 1960s-themed art sale and silent auction, featuring music, food and cocktails. Guests will have the opportunity to purchase works by 20 regional artists, including Gregory Kondos. They can also bid on a "Blast-from the Past" goody bag filled with a SacMod membership, Silly Putty, Etch-a-Sketch keychain, X-Ray Spex and other retro stuff.

The venue is a stately Mid-Century Modern home built in 1963 that boasts a classic pool, floating staircase, slate floors and concrete masonry.

Guests are encouraged to come dressed in your coolest 60s outfits.

What: Art-a-Go-Go: Art, Eats & Fun by the Pool!
Where: 1891 11th Ave., Sacramento (valet parking)
When: July 21, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $65 per person or $95 per couple (includes food and beverages). Advance tickets available online.
For more info: 916-498-9822 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Painter Gregory Kondos works on a commission painting for the new Sacramento International Airport at his Clarksburg studio. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Andy Alfaro

July 15, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Herbert Bauer

BAUER_HERBERT.JPGBorn: Jan. 21, 1910

Known for: The Davis resident is notable for his work in Yolo County -- he was the county's public health officer who initiated the first Family Services Agency, was a charter member of the county's Mental Health Association, joined in organizing the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services and was a founding member of the Yolo County Medical Society.

Background: Bauer, who specialized in internal medicine, and his wife, Hanna, a clinical psychologist, moved to Davis in 1949. Six years later, he became the county's public health officer. Working out of the basement of the county courthouse, Bauer conducted well-baby clinics, parenting classes, polio immunization clinics and tuberculosis detection. He brought the first family planning clinic to the county. After retiring at age 61, he completed a child psychiatry residency at the UC Davis Medical Center and practiced child psychiatry for the next 20 years.

A highlight: Bauer has received numerous awards for his health-related work. In 2006, the Herbert Bauer M.D. Health, Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Building opened in Woodland. The facility is a one-stop service center for Yolo County residents seeking alcohol, drug and mental health programs.

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.

July 13, 2012
Rare State Library items subject of TV program

Kurutz.JPGOver at the California State Library, the most valuable artifacts are housed in "The Vault," a climate-controlled room containing the rarest books, photos, manuscripts and other documents. The public seldom gets to see these treasures, but KVIE viewers will have an opportunity when the Rob on the Road program showcases the facility's special collections on July 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Rob Stewart and his crew spent two days at the State Library recording with Emeritus Special Collections Librarian Gary Kurutz, who explained the historical significance of such holdings as James Marshall's hand-drawn gold discovery map and John James Audubon's life-size color engravings of The Birds of America.

Produced weekly by KVIE, Rob on the Road explores Northern California people and places and their inspiring stories. You can view full episodes on the program's web site.

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Gary Kurutz, Special Collections Librarian at the State Library, removes an item from a shelf inside a temperature-controlled vault in the new library building. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

July 12, 2012
California and the Civil War lecture returns

Civil War Nevada City.JPGIf you've missed prior presentations of California and the Civil War, you'll can catch it in Nevada City next week.

Using art, maps and photos, Grass Valley historians Richard Hurley and T.J. Meekins will describe the political and military role the Golden State played in the war. They'll explain just how close California came to siding with the Confederacy and how the simmering conflict between Unionists and Secessionists in Nevada County almost erupted in violence.

Hurley and Meekins are authors of Queen of the Northern Mines, a novel set in Nevada City during the 1860s.

What: California and the Civil War, sponsored by the Nevada County Historical Society
Where: Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City
When: July 17, 7 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: Dan, 477-8056 or email NCHS

Event poster

PHOTO CREDIT: Reenactment by the American Civil War Association at Pioneer Park in Nevada City. 2008 photograph by Penny Meyer

July 11, 2012
History authors to visit State Fair

Thumbnail image for calstatefair2012.pngStarting tomorrow and every day of the 2012 California State Fair, visitors will have the opportunity to meet a variety of writers at the Authors Booth (inside the A/B building).

Among the participating authors are historians and historical novelists, including:

Michael Paul Frazee (military history novels)
Max Rodrigues Garcia (Holocaust family history)
Jacquelyn Hanson (historical romance)
Kevin W. Hecteman (railroad history)
Tom Myers (local architecture photography)
Elizabeth Pinkerton (local history)
Alton Pryor (California history)
Maya Torngren (WWII family history)
Naida West (local historical novels)

Author Booth Schedule

July 11, 2012
Traditional basket weaving demonstration

SIM Basket Weaving Dixie.jpgDixie Rogers of the Karuk Tribe will demonstrate traditional Native American basket weaving at the State Indian Museum this Saturday. She employs a technique known as "Closed Half Twist-Twined With Overlay" with several varieties of native California plants to create her intricate designs.

What: Basket Weaving Demonstration
Where: State Indian Museum, 2618 K Street, Sacramento (on the grounds of Sutter's Fort)
When: July 14, 2012, 11 to 1 p.m.
Cost: Demonstration is free with price of admission. Museum admission: $3 for adults; $2 for youths ages 6 to 17 and free for children five and under
For More: 916-324-0971 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Dixie Rogers demonstrates traditional Native American basket weaving. Courtesy California State Indian Museum

July 11, 2012
A travel guide to California's ghost towns

Ghost Towns of CA.jpgVoyaguer Press, publisher of dozens of travel books on out-of-the-way places in America, just released a new guide to 70 long-gone boomtowns that flourished in the early years of the state.

Ghost Towns of California provides visitors with useful maps, driving and hiking directions, town histories and photographs to plan their trips to these former mining camps and pioneer villages. Among the close-by Mother Lode sites featured are Coloma, Georgetown, Amador City, Volcano, Mokelumne Hill, Campo Seco, Murphys, Columbia, Chinese Camp and Nevada City.

Author Phillip Varney has photographed some 600 ghost towns in the western United States which have been documented in eight guidebooks.

Ghost Towns of California: Your Guide to the Hidden History and Old West Haunts of California
By Philip Varney
Paperback, 240 pages
Published by Voyageur Press

July 10, 2012
California's 1940 Census records now name searchable

1940 Census.jpgSome time last month the 1940 Census Indexing Project completed work on California records. What that means for the family historian is that valuable information on ancestors living in the Golden State in 1940 may now be found by name.

As explained in The Bee when the federal government made this census public in May, a researcher needed to know the address -- or at least the block -- of a person to retrieve the hand-written tally sheet containing the specific data.

With the hard work of countless volunteers who transcribed the tally sheets, the West Coast records are name searchable using the interface provided by FamilySearch. Here you can enter a name which can stand alone or be narrowed by state, county, city, gender, race or relationship to head of household.

What you get is a surprising amount of personal information. Take for example Eleanor Grace McClatchy, head of The Bee's parent company in 1940. Her Census record tells us her age (42), marital status (divorced), race (white), birth state (California), her status as head of household and the names and relationships of persons living in that household (a nephew, housekeeper and cook). If you call up the original Census record, you see her home address (2112 22nd St., now site of the Ella K. McClatchy branch of the Sacramento Public Library), as well as the names and addresses of neighbors. In addition, there is her occupation and employer (President, McClatchy Newspapers).

As of this date, most of the U.S. states have been 100 percent indexed. To see the status of your home state, visit the 1940 Census Project web site.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo provided by the National Archives, an enumerator interviews a woman for the 1940 Census. AP Photo/National Archives at College Park

July 9, 2012
Korean BBQ to open in a vintage Art Deco gas station

The last time I talked with Alex Won and his business partner, Yoon Hee Cho, was in 2006. The occasion was a "Counter Culture" review of their Folsom Boulevard 'cue joint, Yunece 61 Smoked Barbecue & Grill.

On its menu, crispy spring rolls, taquitos and teriyaki salmon met hickory-smoked pork and beef ribs, tri-tip and hot links. An intriguing blend of cuisines, a curiosity at the time. The food was tops, and the restaurant had a good run before its not-so-good location finally did it in.

Now Won and Cho have re-teamed to create Tako Korean BBQ, opening Friday at the intersection of Alhambra Boulevard and T Street.

It will be housed in an architecturally stunning, long-abandoned Richfield gas station, an Art Deco-Moderne historic landmark that opened in 1936. The inside has been refurbished, of course, and a large patio has been added. The outside of the building has been cleaned up and - wisely - pretty much preserved. The restaurant's retro logo is a salute to the classic American gas stations of decades gone by, Won said.

The menu will show the type of fare that helped launch the red-hot food-truck movement that originated in Los Angeles and spread throughout California.

"The concept is Korean barbecue meets Mexican-style foods like tortillas and burritos," Won said on the phone today. "(The specialty) will be Korean beef short ribs served in tacos, burritos and rice bowls."

Beer and wine? "Our license is coming," Won said.

-- Allen Pierleoni

July 9, 2012
Beers, Brawls and Babes at the City Cemetery

DSCF4406.JPGThe Historic City Cemetery will host "Beers, Brawls and Babes," an evening of storytelling and swilling, on Friday, July 13. In addition to being regaled with stories from some of Sacramento's more colorful departed, guests will be issued two beverage vouchers for drinks in the saloon. Proceeds from tickets sales will benefit preservation work at the cemetery.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online.

What: Beers, Brawls and Babes fundraiser
Where: Old City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: Friday, July 13, 2012, at 7:45, 8:30 and 9:15 p.m.
Cost: $25; Participants must be over 21 and bring photo ID
For more info: (916) 264-7839 or (916) 448-0811

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: The Buffalo Brewery at 21st and Q Sts. circa 1920-1930. Courtesy John Thomas

July 8, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Greg Vaughn

VAUGHN GREG.JPGBorn: July 3, 1965

Known for: Sacramento native Greg Vaughn was a four-time All-Star outfielder who hit 355 home runs and drove in 1,072 runs during a 15-year career with five major league teams.

Background: Vaughn was raised in south Sacramento and attended John D. Sloat Elementary School before starring at Kennedy High School and Sacramento City College. He then played for the University of Miami and was drafted five times before signing with the Milwaukee Brewers in June 1986. He made his major league debut in 1989. He was traded to the San Diego Padres during the 1996 season. He enjoyed his best season with the Padres in 1998, when he hit 50 home runs and drove in 119 runs for the National League champions. He hit 45 home runs for Cincinnati, where he was sent via a trade in 1999 before signing as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He completed his career with the Colorado Rockies in 2003.

A highlight: Vaughn hit two home runs in the opening game of the 1998 World Series, but the New York Yankees rallied from a 5-2 deficit to win 9-6. The Yankees went on to sweep the series

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.

July 6, 2012
Close Calls and calamities considered at Historic City Cemetery

LCCEMETERYMONUMENTR.JPGEarly California pioneers braved all types of disasters: fire, flood, shipwrecks, starvation, etc. The next docent-led tour in the Historic City Cemetery will relate stories of hardships, escapes and tragedies involving those buried there.

What: Close Calls and Calamities Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: July 7, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations much appreciated.
For more info: 916-264-7839 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Monuments crafted of granite and marble are found throughout the Historic City Cemetery. 1998 Sacramento Bee photograph by Laura Chun

July 5, 2012
News from the California History Section

Drop by the California History Room at the State Library, Room 200 at 900 N Street in Sacramento, between 9:30 and 4:00 Monday through Friday, and see its book display from July: "Bloomin' California." Selected for your reading pleasure are books on California botany, ranging from a 1930 state textbook on California wildflowers to a book on the gardens of Alcatraz to another on that state icon, the California Poppy (and while you're visiting, take a look at the California Room's own poppies that amazingly, magically, never wilt!).


Off the downstairs rotunda, the annual Juneteenth exhibit is still on display, showcasing the contributions of African-Americans to California's history. And in the second floor rotunda you can still see the popular California Calls You exhibit, featuring the often graphically striking promotional materials that have inspired people to visit or move to California over the years. Also on display are a few items from an upcoming exhibit on California sports, which will replace California Calls You in the near future.

Recently processed manuscript collections include material on renowned food writer M. F. K. Fisher, the California Alpine Club, the San Pedro-built ship USS Grama, and California attorney William C. Mathes. And issue #103 of the California State Library Foundation Bulletin is soon to be released, which will include articles on Yosemite artist Thomas Almond Ayres, foundation board vice-president George Basye, the many books and reports issued in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, the pre-bridge Golden Gate, and another recently processed manuscript collection: that of former California State Senator and San Francisco Supervisor Quentin L. Kopp.

sunshine apts.bmpIncluded here for The Bee readership's viewing pleasure are two images from the California History Section's photograph collection: a woman and emu at San Francisco's fabled Woodward's Gardens, and the Sunshine Apartments on Los Angeles' Bunker Hill before the neighborhood was almost entirely leveled.

July 5, 2012
Ride the rails with Mark Twain

CSRRM Twain.jpgIt's going to be a very special ride on the Sacramento Southern excursion train this Saturday evening when Mark Twain will be on hand to reminisce about his railroad experiences in the Golden State. He'll share stories at the Eagle Theater first, and then it's "All Abroad" with the author on the six mile jaunt along the Sacramento River pulled by a vintage locomotive.

Twain (aka local actor Paul Kaunert) will be accompanied by fiddler Dave Rainwater who'll entertain passengers with old-time folk music.

This is a one-time-only event, so advance ticket purchases (which include both the train ride and the Eagle performance) are highly recommended.

What: "Riding the Rails with Mark Twain"
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento. Train departs from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, Front St. between J and K Sts.
When: July 7. 6:30 p.m. performance inside the Eagle Theatre. 7:30 p.m. excursion train departs
Cost: $24 adults; $12 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under
For more info: 916-445-5995 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Mother Lode fiddler Dave Rainwater and Mark Twain actor Pat Kaunert at the State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

July 4, 2012
Happy Independence Day!

Toll Fireworks.JPGPHOTO CREDIT: Fireworks in Old Sacramento. Undated (1980s?) Sacramento Bee photograph by Mitch Toll.

July 3, 2012
Journey to the Gold Rush during Time Travel Weekends in Old Sac

TTW DTS.jpgTake a trip to the Gold Rush when Time Travel Weekends return to Old Sacramento for the third summer.

A treat for the whole family, these performances include historic personages and reenactments, period music, dancing and plays, parades, magic acts, comedy skits and more. The Victorian Academy across from the Eagle Theatre offers demonstrations of 19th century tools, toys, and crafts.

There's a different performance theme each weekend. See schedule for details.

What: Time Travel Weekends!
Where: Throughout Old Sacramento with scheduled performances on four stages: Eagle Theatre, Victorian Academy, Pioneer Park, Waterfront Park.
When: Weekends beginning July 7 through Aug. 26. 11 to 5 p.m. Highlights: Noon & 3:30 p.m. - Villain's Revenge: A Rousing Melodrama or Uncle Sam's Chatauqua; 2 p.m. - Golden Melodeon Revue in Eagle Theatre.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Time Travel Weekends House Band aka the Dog Town Serenaders. Courtesy Mylar Productions

July 2, 2012
Family History Expo comes to town

ExhibitHall.JPGFamily History Expos provide an opportunity for amateur genealogists to immerse themselves in the tools and techniques of researching and preparing a family tree.

The two-day conference this Saturday in Sacramento includes speeches and classes by knowledgeable experts, as well as an exhibit hall showcasing many related products. The program covers such topics as online research, software, print resources, and tips for writing and sharing your findings.

The keynote address will be given by Dean L. McLeod, a long-time professional genealogist specializing in English and Scottish ancestry.

You can register online, by phone or at the door.

What: Northern California Family History Expo 2012
Where: Crowne Plaza Sacramento Northeast, 5321 Date Ave., Sacramento
When: July 6-7. Starts Friday 1 p.m. and ends Saturday 4 p.m.
Cost: Registration, $69. Friday Only, $59. Saturday Only, $59. At the Door, $99
For more info: 801-829-3295 or website

Event flyer
News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Expo exhibits. Courtesy Family History Expos

July 1, 2012
In History's Spotlight: Henry Wells

Born: Dec. 12, 1805
Died: Dec. 10, 1878

Known for: Henry Wells, along with partners including William Fargo, was the president of Wells Fargo & Co., which opened in Sacramento during the Gold Rush to compete with another express company. Today, Wells Fargo is a financial services company with 158,000 employees.

Background: A Vermont native who grew up in New York state, Wells established express service between New York City and Buffalo carrying mail at less than the government rate. In 1844, he and Fargo formed Wells Fargo & Co. to handle express service to the West. Sacramento was the main gold dust center when Wells Fargo Bank was founded on March 18, 1852. They set up shop on Second Street before moving to the Hastings Bank Building, which still stands in Old Sacramento. The panic of 1855 closed many banks, but Wells Fargo survived with a $103,000 surplus. In 1857, $43 million was taken out of California mines, most of it carried by Wells Fargo.

A highlight: Two of Wells Fargo Bank's five museums are in Sacramento: at the main bank on Capitol Mall and in the Hastings building.

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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