Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

May 31, 2013
Railroad Museum honks again for volunteers

RR Volunteers.jpgYou don't have to be a history expert to become a volunteer at the State Railroad Museum, just have the willingness to help educate the public on the essential role trains have played in the development of Sacramento and California.

The Museum and Old Sacramento State Historic Park are now recruiting adults to join a new class of volunteers. Volunteers serve as docents and tour guides, help with steam train operations, track construction, restoration and maintenance, and perform clerical work. Training is free, but participants must commit to at least 84 hours of service during the year. (The schedule is flexible.) Perks include free parking while on duty, invitation to an annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet and complimentary Museum membership.

If interested, download a volunteer application or call 916-324-7593 or email the Museum's Volunteer Training Coordinator for more information.

What: Railroad Museum Volunteer Applications Accepted Now
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park
When: Volunteer applications are due June 7. Orientation and volunteer training begins on June 17.
For more info: 916-324-7593 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: A volunteer docent explains a train exhibit. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 30, 2013
Experience the Old West for a night in historic Folsom

Take a trip back in time to 1862 Folsom during "A Night in History" at Pioneer Village this Saturday evening.

Hosted by the Folsom Historical Society, the event features Old West entertainment and barbeque dinner. Old-timey music will be performed by Fiddle Flash & Friends and Legends 'n Liars. There will also be a western wear contest, "gold" panning for the kids, blacksmithing demonstrations and an ice cream sundae social provided by Snooks' Candies. Jason Maloney of KMAX Good Day Sacramento will be guest emcee.

Procceds will be used for improvement and upkeep of Pioneer Village.

What: A Night in History
Where: Pioneer Village, 196 Wool St., Folsom
When: June 1, 5 to 8 p.m.
Cost: General, $40; children 12 and under, $15.
For more info: (916) 985-2707 or website

Event description

PHOTO CREDIT: Folsom History Museum.

May 29, 2013
1906 San Francisco quake and fire documented in new photo book

SFquakebook.jpgOn April 18, 1906 a massive 8.3 earthquake and subsequent fires devastated more than 4.5 square miles of San Francisco buildings and roads.

A new Arcadia photo book brings together dozens of essential images of the city before, during and after the disaster. Authors Richard and Gladys Hansen used photos from their own private collection built over 20 years. History buffs can find many of these photos, plus articles, a timeline and primary documents at the Hansens' website, Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.

Richard Hansen is a historian and photographer who has offered photo shows about the great earthquake since 1970. Gladys Hansen, San Francisco Archivist Emerita, has compiled a Great Register of people who died in and lived through the disaster.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake (Images of America series)
by Richard and Gladys Hansen
Arcadia Publishing
paperback, 128 pages, 200 images

Arcadia Publishing is known for producing small, richly illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 8,000 titles that celebrate communities all across the country.

May 28, 2013
Cemetery tour relates 12 interesting ways to die

BB ABOVE CEMETERY.JPGNever squeamish about discussing death, the Historic City Cemetery docents will share stories of a dozen fascinating ways to die. Hear how some unfortunate Sacramentans met their maker via an elephant, an omnibus and even a potato.

As usual Cemetery visitors can park free in the lot at 10th & Broadway, across the street from the 10th Street entrance.

What: Cemetery Tour -- A Dozen Ways to Die
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: June 1, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: 916-448-0811 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Louis and Marilyn Demas, tour guides at the Historic City Cemetery. 2004 Sacramento Bee photograph by Brian Baer

May 27, 2013
Have a good Memorial Day

Memorial Day cartoon.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee political cartoon by Newton Pratt, published May 30, 1963.

May 24, 2013
USC photo collection is rich in local images

J Street 1907.jpgAlthough the California Historical Society's online photo collection (1860-1960) is comprised mainly with images of Los Angeles and Southern California, you'll find a sizable number taken in Sacramento and surrounding areas.

Some 60 of the 25,000 CHS photographs housed at the University of Southern California Digital Library depict turn-of-the-century scenes of Sacramento: homes, streets, public buildings, people, transportation and river views. Among them are the Catholic Cathedral, State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, Sutter's Fort (before renovation), C.B. Crocker Art Gallery and many others.

The California Historical Society, located at 678 Mission St. in San Francisco, maintains both a museum and research library. Its current exhibition, Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History, an experiment using the Internet to collect stories and materials from the public "to create a richer, more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay."

PHOTO CREDIT: View of J Street in Sacramento, ca.1907. Photograph by Charles C. Pierce, C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, 1860-1960.

May 23, 2013
"Golden Age" cars grace the California Auto Museum

Thumbnail image for 1928crysler4door.JPGThe California Automobile Museum gets in the Gatsby mood with a new exhibit of "Golden Age" vehicles from the 1920s and Art Deco era.

Over 20 lavish cars, including Stutz, Hispano-Suiza, Duesenburg and Auburn models, will be unveiled this Saturday at the Grand Opening where you can meet the owners and partake in a wine tasting (for folks 21 and older).

And don't forget the Vettes for Vets car show this Sunday behind the museum. The public can ogle the Corvettes for free and veterans get free admission to the museum.

What: Elegance in Motion: Cars of the Golden Age
Where: California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St., Sacramento
When: May 25 thru Oct. 13, 10 to 6 p.m. Mon thru Sun. Exhibit Grand Opening Celebration May 25, 1 to 3 p.m.
Cost: $8 General Admission; $7 seniors 65+ & AAA; $4 Students; Museum members & kids 0-4 yrs free
For more info: (916) 442-6802 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: 1928 Chrysler at the Towe Auto Museum (now called the California Automobile Museum). 2000 photograph by Steve Young.

May 22, 2013
Library launches history tour of K Street for smartphones

SacQR code 1000 K.JPGSacQR, a historic tour of Sacramento's K Street mall for mobile devices, launches today. Those eager to see the old K Street alongside the new can now walk the mall on a self-guided history tour using their smartphones or other mobile devices.

QR codes at nearly two dozen businesses along K Street from 7th to 13th Streets link to historic photographs and postcards dating from 1900 to 1980. The images are from Sacramento Public Library's Sacramento Room Digital Collections and are accompanied by fascinating descriptions and audio narration. Participants can take the SacQR tour in any order, following the QR codes identified on the tour map, or they can visit for links to all locations.

SacQR is a project of Sacramento Public Library and was completed in cooperation with Turn Downtown Around, an initiative seeking to revitalize downtown Sacramento.

May 21, 2013
Veterans to be honored at Historic City Cemetery

CC MEMORIAL DAY FLAGS.JPGVeterans will be honored this Saturday at Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery.

First off will be a ceremony featuring a guest speaker, flag raising, patriotic readings and music, plus a Rifle Squad with Bugler. Meet at the Veterans Area in the center of the Cemetery.

A tour follows led by local historian Rick Roberts who will point out the grave markers of veterans who fought in the Spanish American War up through the Vietnam conflict. The tour group will gather near the brick building at the south end of the Cemetery.

What: Memorial Day Veterans Tour
Where: Old City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento.
When: May 25. Ceremony begins at 11 a.m., Tour at 12 p.m.
Cost: free, donations appreciated.
For more info: 916-448-0811 or website

Event flyer
News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Flags mark the grave sites of veterans of war in the old city cemetery. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Chris Crewell

May 20, 2013
Railroad museums offer special Memorial weekend activities

Memorial Day is coming up, and that means big doings at the rail museums in Old Sacramento and Jamestown in Tuolumne County.

To help celebrate the Sacramento Music Festival, the California State Railroad Museum will offer musical performances inside the museum and on the Sacramento Southern excursion trains that will operate all during the extended weekend. In addition, festival badge holders will enjoy free admission to the museum. Several musical venues will be close by.

Down at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the excursion trains will run all three weekend days. Sierra No. 3, the "movie star" steam locomotive, will operate Saturday and Sunday and the vintage diesel engine on Monday. Singer Jim Nelson of the Black Irish Band will entertain passengers on every ride. Visitors can also enjoy tours of the famous Caboose No. 7, special equipment demonstrations and picnicking on the Roundhouse lawn.

What: Jazz Festival Activities at the California State Railroad Museum
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Excursion trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot (on Front Street between J and K Streets)
When: May 24-27 - special activities inside the Museum. May 25-27 - excursion trains running. Museum open 10 to 5 p.m. Excursion trains depart hourly from 11 to 5 p.m. (Saturday through Monday)
Cost: Museum admission -- $10 adults, $5 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; free for children 5 and under).
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

What: Excursion Train Rides Over Memorial Day Weekend
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: May 25-27. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (trains depart on the hour)
Cost: General train ride tickets - $15 adults, $8 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more info: 209-984-3953 or website

News releases

PHOTO CREDIT: Dancers enjoy the music inside the Railroad Museum during the 2011 Sacramento Music Festival. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 16, 2013
State Library's Pinterest is a treasure trove of images

Congratulations to the California State Library!  Its Pinterest collection was ranked number one among state libraries by the website Library Science List.

What's Pinterest? It's a social media service where an individual or organization can share collections of images -- called "boards" -- with followers. Each board illustrates a specific topic. The images -- "pins" -- are linked back to their original source.

The State Library has assembled 39 boards showcasing a wide variety of photographs, postcards, manuscripts, advertisements, maps, illustrations and artwork. Subject matter of the boards revolves around books, libraries and history.

Local and state history buffs will especially enjoy the Gold Rush board containing early photos, paintings, posters, book illustrations and even a gold coin. Included are pictures of Sutter's Mill, Sutter's Fort and several images of miners.

Other historical boards include Illuminated Manuscripts, California promotions, Postcards of California, California History and California Politicians.

PHOTO CREDIT: Coloma and Sutter's Mill in 1851. Oil painting by Louise Catherine Vallet Anderson. (1893)

May 15, 2013
Celebrate Spring at the Governor's Mansion

RB Mansion Gardens 10.JPGThe Governor's Mansion will celebrate its upgraded gardens with a special evening event to raise funds for operation and further restoration of the grounds.

"A Garden Affair" will feature a self-guided tour of the gardens and historic buildings. Knowledgeable docents in period attire will share anecdotes about the families who made the Mansion their home. Light refreshments and a raffle for floral arrangements will also be offered.

Advance tickets can be purchased at online or you can make reservations to buy tickets at the door by calling 916-445-3727.

What: The Magic of Spring, A Garden Affair
Where: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park; 1526 H St., Sacramento
When: May 18, 4 to 6 p.m.
Cost: $30 per person
For more info: 916-445-3727

PHOTO CREDIT: Geraniums add color to the front of the historic Governor's Mansion. 2012 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randall Benton 

May 14, 2013
Night Out at the Maidu Museum

Maidu Museum interior.jpgAs part of Roseville's 3rd Saturday Art Walk, the Maidu Museum will offer free admission to a special evening program.

The featured speaker is Nisenan Maidu educator April Moore discussing misconceptions about California native traditions. There will also be a reception to kick off two new art exhibits: "Traditions Learned Through Time" by Billy Hawk Enos and "Artwork by Winema Marie Suehead."

Light refreshments will be available.

What: Night Out at the Museum
Where: Maidu Museum & Historic Site, 311 Vernon St., Roseville
When: may 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Program starts at 7 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-774-5200

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Maidu Museum and Hisoric Site

May 13, 2013
Sutter's Fort celebrates its multicultural past

RPMEXICAN FLAG DAY HATME.JPGThe Sutter's Fort "Hands on History" series will present a new program honoring the diverse cultures represented at the fort before and after statehood.

Visitors can sample special presentations on the people of African descent in California, 19th century Hawaiians, Sacramento Valley natives, as well as demonstrations of traditional Mexican dance and French and British fur trapping. For the kids there will be history-themed scavenger hunts and corn-husk doll making, plus the ever-popular cannon firing.

What: Hands on History -- Sutter's Fort in 1846, A Community of Many Faces
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: May 18. Fort hours: 10 to 5 p.m. (open daily). 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 and under.
For more info: Call 916-445-4422 or visit website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Jesus Solis, 32, in hat, of Stockton, dressed as a charro (a Mexican cowboy) and Lizeth Valenzuela, 17, of Stockton salute the Mexican flag during the Mexican Flag Day celebration at Sutter's Fort. 1998 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randy Pench

May 10, 2013
Letters tell adventures of an early 20th century businessman out West

LettersofMyGrandfather-frontcover.jpgPoint Reyes Cypress Press has recently released a softcover edition of a collection of letters revealing the exploits of a successful businessman who left his family in St. Louis to pursue a new life on the West Coast.

Johnson, who was 54 when he emigrated, had many adventures and held many types of jobs as he roamed as far north as Vancouver and as far south as San Diego. Among his occupations was lumberman in Washington, paymaster for the Panama Pacific Exposition, accountant for the biggest hotel in the new Yosemite National Park and employee at the hydroelectric dam on the Merced River. Through his letters Johnson provides a portrait of life and work in the rough-and-ready days of early 20th century California.

Editor Anne R. Dick, is a writer, poet and jewelry maker. She's also author of The Search for Philip K. Dick, her memoir of life with the famed science fiction novelist.

The Letters of my Grandfather, Moses Perry Johnson, 1911-1928
Introduction and endnotes by Anne R. Dick
Point Reys Cypress Press
Softcover, 248 pages, illustrated

News release

May 9, 2013
Rio Linda's Farm & Tractor Days

MAJ ROGER LUBIENS TRACTOR.JPGThe Rio Linda Historical Society will again host Annual Farm & Tractor Days this weekend.

For history buffs there will be dozens of antique steam engines, tractors, and fire trucks on display. And visitors can also tour the Ranch House Museum and historic homes in the vicinity. The morning Tractor Parade leaves Saturday at 7:30 a.m. from Dry Creek Ranch. Western style BBQ served 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

What: 19th Annual Farm & Tractor Days
Where: Historic Dry Creek Ranch House, 6852 Dry Creek Rd., Rio Linda
When: May 10 & 11, 9 to 3 p.m. Friday is School & Youth Day; Saturday is Family & Community Day.
Cost: $2 donation at the gate; free parking.
For more info: (916) 838-3506

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Roger Lubiens of Folsom participates in Farm & Tractor Days on his 1948 McCormick Farmall Cub tractor. 2006 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael A. Jones

May 8, 2013
Expert to speak on model trucks and toy tractors

toy truck.JPGAs part of its Second Saturday Educational Series, Heidrick Ag Center will present Hubert Bryant speaking on the collecting of vintage model trucks and toy tractors.

Bryant will discuss the evolution of the toy vehicle craft, from wood, metal to plastic. Visitors will get to examine items from his personal collection, as well as those from the museum's holdings.

Each month the Center focuses on a different aspect of California agricultural and transportation history. Its permanent collection consists of two main galleries: the Fred C. Heidrick Antique Ag Collection and the Hays Antique Truck Museum.

What: Second Saturday Educational Series: Collectable Trucks and Toy Tractors
Where: Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland
When: May 11, 12 to 2 p.m.
Cost: $10 non-members; $7 members; $5 kids 5-18; kids under 5 free.
For more info: (530) 666-9700 or email

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Heidrick Ag History Center

May 7, 2013
Special National Train Day events at Railtown and Rail Museum

CALIFORNIA RAILROAD MUSEUM.JPGThis Saturday the 6th Annual National Train Day will be celebrated at over 200 cities around the country.

Locally, the State Railroad Museum will offer free admission, tours of contemporary Amtrak cars and other special activities including Interpretative Handcar rides and children's "Chuggington Station." As a special bonus nearby Sacramento History Museum will also offer free admission for this day only.

Over in Jamestown (Tuolumne County) Railtown 1897 will observe Train Day with excursion rides featuring the "movie star" steam locomotive Sierra No. 3 and Caboose No. 7. In addition visitors can enjoy tours of the historic Roundhouse and Shops and special displays of rarely-seen historic locomotives, equipment and vehicles, including the No. 28 & 2 locomotives and vintage track maintenance vehicles.

What: National Train Day
Where: California State Railroad Museum, 2nd and I Sts., Old Sacramento
When: May 11, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

What: National Train Day
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: May 11, 11 to 3 p.m.
Cost: Park admission, $5 adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17, free for children 5  and under. Train rides: $15 adults, $8 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under.
For more info: 209-984-3953 or website

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: Southern Pacific No. 1 CP Huntington. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 5, 2013
Valley to Vietnam interviews local veterans

v2v.JPGThis spring, Sacramento Public Library began sitting down with local Vietnam veterans for Valley to Vietnama new storytelling project that is capturing, preserving, and sharing the stories of those who grew up in the Sacramento area and served in Vietnam. The project has produced ten interviews thus far, and continues to seek participants interested in discussing their experiences at home and overseas.

Valley to Vietnam digital stories are available through the library's YouTube channel and on DVD. Access Sacramento has provided recording equipment through a partnership with Sacramento Public Library, and episodes of Valley to Vietnam air on the first Monday of each month, at 8:30 pm, on Access Sacramento's Channel 17.

To learn more about Valley to Vietnam or to suggest an interview, contact project coordinator James C. Scott,, (916) 264-2795.

May 3, 2013
Rail musueum offers photography workshop

Trains & Tripods1.jpgWith the usual crowds it's normally difficult to photograph the amazing exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum. But amateur shooters will have a chance to snap the trains before the facility opens next Saturday.

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

Space is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is required.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Opportunity & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, 125 I St. in Old Sacramento
When: May 10 & 11. Friday - 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Photography Seminar); Saturday - 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (Shooting Workshop)
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar, $35.00 per person shooting workshop or $60.00 per person for both
For more info: 916-445-7373 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 2, 2013
Central Library to showcase 1940s Sacramento

K Street 1945.jpgRation Book.jpgThe Capital Decades series returns to Central Library this May with special programs and displays showcasing 1940s Sacramento:

City Life (Tuesday, May 14, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
Amanda Graham, Tom Tolley and James Scott will discuss what everyday life was like for Sacramentans during the 1940s.They will cover a wide range of topics, including social life and entertainment, the Sacramento homefront and contribution to the war effort, businesses, schools, transportation and post-war changes.

Fashions & Styles (Tuesday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
The Sacramento Art Deco Society will direct a fashion show featuring vintage clothes and accessories of the 1940s.

Motion Pictures (Tuesday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
Local film historian Matias Bombal will share film clips and discuss the movie-going experience of the 1940s .

All programs will be held in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at 828 I Street.

Visitors to Central Library are also invited to view displays of 1940s material from the Sacramento Public Library and Sacramento Art Deco Society throughout the month of May. Subjects will include fashion, defense work, rationing, and Japanese internment.

For more info:; (916) 264-2920

May 1, 2013
More adults-only evening tours of Underground Sacramento

Thumbnail image for SAC UNDERGROUND.JPGThis summer the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is offering more "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.(advance online tickets available now).
Cost: $20 (only guests 21 and older will be admitted)
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

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

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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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