Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

June 29, 2013
Old Sacramento invites kids to History Camp

logo.gifThe Sacramento History Museum and the Living History Center invites kids, aged 8-12, to three one-week day camps that explore state and city history through tours and hands-on experiences. Participants will visit local museums and historic sites, make their own old-time toys, learn to pan for gold, ride a steam train, perform in a history-themed play and many other fun and educational activities.

Space is limited in the camps and is first-come, first served. Parents can learn more about the program and register their children with this online registration form.

July 8-12: Gold Fever
An introduction to California and Sacramento's history.
July 15-19: History Live!
Work on a historical theme for a play that campers will perform.
July 22-July 26: Dig It
A look at preservation, archaeology and anthropology of local sites.

What: Old Sacramento History Camp 2013
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St., Sacramento
When: July 8 to 26, 9 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $155 per week per camper. Discounted rates are available for HOSF members at $140 per week per camper. Extended Care: Morning and afternoon extended care is available for an additional fee.
For more info: website

Registration Packet

June 28, 2013
State Library revamps its online Governors' Gallery

The California State Library has redesigned its online picture gallery for the state's governors. The website contains similar information and images, but it's more attractive and easier to navigate. You'll find: the official governor portraits, family facts, a biographical sketch, bibliography of other sources and links to inaugural speeches. Elsewhere on the site are pictures and biographical information for all the First Ladies.

The State Library has also revamped its own web pages that feature a cool interactive map of the historic Stanley Mosk Library & Courts Building. If you move your mouse over the exterior of the building you're directed to photos and information about the most interesting aspects of this 1928 neo-classical structure. The building went through a complete renovation in 2009.

PHOTO CREDIT: The renovated Stanley Mosk Library & Courts Building. 2013 Sacramento Bee photograph by Hector Amezcua

June 27, 2013
Time Travel Weekends return to Old Sacramento

TTW Golden Melodeon_1A.jpgMake a trip to the Gold Rush when Time Travel Weekends return to Old Sacramento for the fourth 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
When: 11 to 5 p.m., weekends from June 29 thru Aug. 25.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Golden Melodeon variety show performers at the Eagle Theatre. Courtesy Howard Gold

June 26, 2013
Sacramento's "Red Scare" trial subject of new exhibit

COMMUNIST TRIAL 1934.JPGOne of the most famous (or infamous) trials held in Sacramento was the 1934-35 case of 18 labor organizers accused of "criminal syndicalism" (the advocating of the overthrow of the U.S. government).

The four-month proceedings -- which drew attention of the entire country -- is the subject of a new exhibit opening this week at the Sacramento History Museum. Interactive displays, video, photographs and other artifacts tell the story of not only the trial, but also the battles between farmworkers and growers that gave rise to it.

The Center for Sacramento History's Flickr page features some compelling photographs of the trial and people outside the courthouse. You can also view a YouTube recording of the 2010 lecture given by UC Davis History Professor Kathryn Olmsted entitled: "Blood & Sunshine: Farm Workers, Unions, and the Great Sacramento Conspiracy Trial of 1935."

What: Trouble in River City
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St., Sacramento
When: Opens June 27 with a members-only reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission -- adults $6, youth (6-17) $4, members and children (5 and under) free.
For more info: (916) 808-7059 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Left to right, defendant Martin Wilson, attorney Leo Gallagher and defendant Caroline Decker participate in the "Red Scare" trial in Sacramento. 1935 Sacramento Bee photograph

June 25, 2013
Welcome the Pony Express "Re-Ride" back to Sacramento

Thumbnail image for Pony Express.JPGThe 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.

This year over 600 NPEA members are participating in the 10-day relay that follows segments of the 1,966-mile route between St. Joseph, Mo. and Sacramento.

The 2013 "re-ride" is on schedule. The first rider left St. Joseph on June. 17 and the last rider is expected to gallop into Pony Express Plaza in Old Sacramento on June 27 around 10:30 a.m. (give or take a few hours).

You can follow the progress of the ride with these links to current news stories. There's also a detailed schedule of arrivals and departures along the route. And check out the 2013 photo album.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Jensen, the last rider of the Pony Express National Historic Trail, pats his horse, Stormy, after his arrival in Old Sacramento. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Sarah Orr

June 24, 2013
Family History Expo returns to Sacramento

Thumbnail image for 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 genealogist James L. Tanner, speaking on "Top 10 Techniques: Fishing for Ancestors & Other Persons of Interest."

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

What: Northern California Family History Expo 2013
Where: Crowne Plaza Sacramento Northeast, 5321 Date Ave., Sacramento
When: June 28 & 29. Starts Friday 12 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
Schedule of classes

PHOTO CREDIT: Expo exhibits. Courtesy Family History Expos

June 21, 2013
Railtown debuts new train photography exhibit

RT Connie Cassinetto No 3 in Bronze.jpgMembers of the Sonora Photo Club will display their talents at a new exhibit of train-related images opening this weekend at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. These 30 compelling photographs showcase the historic Shops and Roundhouse, as well as the vintage locomotives and cars.

Visitors can meet the photographers at a special kickoff reception Saturday at 11 a.m.

Founded in 2005, the Sonora Photo Club is a forum where photographers of all experience levels can meet to share skills and experiences. The group meets in the afternoon on the second Sunday of each month.

What: "In Train View" Photo Exhibit
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: June 22 through Sept. 1. Park open 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 adults, $3 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit Railtown; 209-591-8182 or visit Sonora Photo Club

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: "No. 3 in Bronze," photograph by Connie Cassinetto. Courtesy Railtown 1897 SHP

June 20, 2013
Take a trip back to 1850s Grass Valley during Gold Rush Days

EK HOLBROOK EXT.JPGGrass Valley will relive its 19th century past during this weekend's Gold Rush Days, a festival of music, shows, exhibits, demonstrations and reenactments in historic downtown.

Among the offerings visitors will enjoy are blacksmithing and gold mining demos by docents of the Empire Mine, a reenactment by the Rough and Ready Chamber and live music by the "Humbugs" and "Past Due and Payable" bands.

What: Gold Rush Days
Where: Downtown Grass Valley
When: June 22-23. Saturday, 12 to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 530-272-8315 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Holbrooke Hotel on Main St. in Grass Valley. 2002 Sacramento Bee photograph by Erhardt Krause

June 19, 2013
Kids hands-on history workshops offered at the California Museum

Kids_HandsOn_Craft.jpgYoung kids, 3 and up, will get the chance to learn about California history while having fun at a series of free hands-on workshops offered at the California Museum. The four programs feature California-themed crafts, activities and games to engage and teach participants a little about the state's culture and heritage.

In addition to the workshops, the Museum is offering (through July 31) a special family discount on regular admission prices. See details.

What: Hands-on Learning Workshops
Where: California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: Fourth Saturday of the month -- June 22, July 27, Aug. 24 and Sept. 28 -- from 11 to 1 p.m.
Cost: free with paid admission.
For more info: 916-653-7524 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California Museum

June 18, 2013
Yolo County celebrates Juneteenth
Juneteenth horse.JPG

Juneteenth (June 19) commemorates the day in 1865 when the end of slavery was announced in Galveston, Tex. by a Union army general. Although originally a celebration of the liberation of American slaves, the annual observance has evolved to honor freedom and justice for all peoples.

This Saturday Yolo County will observe Juneteenth with a festival of jazz music, educational exhibits, speeches, food, and arts and crafts vendors. There will also be tributes to local leaders and a special "Hats Off to the Ancestors" headwear fashion show.

The family-friendly event is co-sponsored by the Yolo County Library, its Friends group and the City of Davis Human Relations Commission. DCTV interviewed Jay Johnstone, Davis Library Branch Manger, about the the history of Juneteeth and the weekend's festivities. See the video here.

What: Juneteenth Celebration
Where: Veteran's Memorial Center, 203 East 14th St., Davis
When: June 22, 1 p.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: newsletter or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Horse drawn wagon ride at the 2003 Juneteenth Festival at Negro Bar in Folsom.

June 17, 2013
Car museum open later this Thursday

MG Auto Museum.jpgThe California Automobile Museum is offering special extended hours and special doings this Thursday and every third Thursday of the month. Evening visitors will enjoy half price admission as well as happy hour prices for craft beer and wine.

Best of all are the many rare and vintage vehicles on display. The permanent collection boasts dozens of beautiful reproductions and originals, including one dating back to 1886.

There are also rotating exhibits, the current one being "Elegance in Motion: Cars of the Golden Age," a collection of luxury vehicles from the 1920s and 30s. The display includes high-end makes such as Stutz, Hispano-Suiza, Duesenburg and Auburn.

What: Cars Under the Stars -- Third Thursdays at the Auto Museum
Where: California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St. Sacramento
When: Third Thursday of the month, 5 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $8 general; $4 4tudent; kids under 5 free; $1 off for seniors (65+) and AAA members; $4 on 3rd Thursdays (after 5pm). $3 craft beer and $4 wine. Free parking.
For more info: (916) 442-6802 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Vintage MG. Courtesy California Automobile Museum

June 14, 2013
Library launches vintage cooking challenge

Cookbooks.jpgSummer Reading is underway at Sacramento Public Library with the theme of "Reading is So Delicious," and this year a local history activity has been added to the mix: the Sacramento Vintage Cooking Challenge.

Over the next three months, participants are challenged to try their hand at recipes from Sacramento-area cookbooks dating from 1890 to 1970 and send in reviews of the finished products. Challenge details, recipes and reviews are all posted on the library's Facebook page.

Vintage Cooking Challenge cookbooks have been drawn from the Sacramento Room collection and issue from a variety of local clubs and organizations from the Eastern Star of Sacramento to the Sacramento Symphony League. They include such vintage staples as molded salads, Jell-O, casseroles, and dishes featuring SPAM and chicken livers. Rich mid-century entrees are balanced by dessert recipes dating from 1890 and 1920, and cooks of all skill levels should be able to find a doable dish among the 25 currently posted.

The Sacramento Vintage Cooking Challenge ends with Summer Reading on Friday, August 30, 2013.

June 14, 2013
Suisun valley and town celebrated in new photo book

Suisun book.jpgThe history of the Suisun Valley goes back centuries when Native Americans populated the region before settlement by the Spanish. The Gold Rush attracted many people to the transportation and commercial crossroads that became Suisun City. The valley eventually evolved into a major agricultural region, producing wheat, fruit and wine.

A new Arcadia illustrated volume celebrates this portion of Solano County with photos borrowed from the Vacaville Heritage Council, Solano County Historical Society and local people. Suisun City and Valley was produced by historian-preservationists Elissa A. DeCaro and L.M. Ewing.

Suisun City and Valley (Images of America series)
By Elissa A. DeCaro and L.M. Ewing
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.

June 13, 2013
Tuskegee Airmen remembered in book talk

Tuskegee book.jpgThe Tuskegee Airmen were the first African Americans to serve as aviators during World War II. They not only fought heroically in Europe, they also overcame prejudice and discrimination in the Army Air Forces. Their success helped prepare the way for desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in 1948.

Dr. David G. Styles will speak on the Airmen next Saturday at the State Military Museum. Styles is author of the newly released The Tuskegee Airmen and Beyond: The Road to Equality, which surveys the history of African Americans participation in the U.S. military leading up to the formation of the all-black fighter squadron in 1941.

A frequent speaker, Styles has written 18 books, including another book on WWII aviation history, Two Flights to Victory: From the Doolittle Raid to the Enola Gay, a detailed account of two of the war's most important air missions.

What: The Tuskegee Airmen and Beyond: The Road to Equality
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St., Sacramento
When: June 15, 1 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (916) 854-1904 or website

June 12, 2013
Mechanization of tomato farming told in new exhibit

Fred Heidrick.JPGThe Heidrick Ag History Center opens a new exhibit describing the evolution of California tomato production from hand labor to machines. Besides vintage photographs, visitors will get to examine two early mechanical harvesters, plus a vintage tomato transplanter.

The latest museum newsletter includes an informative essay on California tomato history, including labor shortages and the development of harvesting equipment by private and university engineers.

What: Tomatoes: The California Story
Where: Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland
When: starts June 12. Museum open Wednesday thru Sunday, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $8; AAA members with valid membership card, $7; veterans with valid government issued ID, $7; students with valid student ID, $7; seniors 65 and older, $7; kids (6-12 years old), $5; kids under 5, free.
For more info: 530-666-9700 or museum newsletter

PHOTO CREDIT: Fred Heidrick with some of the vintage farm equipment he amassed for 60 years. His donated collection formed the core of the Heidrick Ag History Center. 1997 Sacramento Bee photograph by John Trotter

June 11, 2013
Treat Dad to a vintage train ride this Father's Day

Thumbnail image for SP Diesel 6051.jpgTrains and dads just sort of go together. So this Father's Day give your pop a ride on a vintage steam or diesel locomotive. Railtown 1897 and the California State Railroad Museum are both offering special excursions this weekend.

In Old Sacramento, two streamlined diesels -- Western Pacific No. 913 and Southern Pacific "Daylight" No. 6051 -- will take passengers on the 45-minute rides along the Sacramento River. These engines are fine examples of first generation diesel-electric locomotives built in the 1940s-50s. Excursion tickets are available on a same-day, first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10:30 at the Sacramento Southern depot (Front St. between J and K Sts.).

Down in Jamestown (Tuolumne County) at Railtown State Historic Park, Sierra No. 3 -- the famous steam locomotive seen often in movies and television -- will take visitors on scenic rides this Sunday through Gold Country foothills. As a special holiday bonus, fathers will receive complimentary chocolate and kids complimentary balloons. Riders will be serenaded by cowboy singer Keith Keenom. In addition, Railtown's depot store, Roundhouse, Interpretative Center and Caboose No. 7 will be open.

What: "Diesels & Dads" on Father's Day Weekend!
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Excursion trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot (on Front St. between J and K Sts.).
When: June 15 & 16. Weekend excursion train rides depart hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: 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). Museum admission: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under.
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 16. Trains depart hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $15 adults, $8 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under (includes Park admission).
For more info: 209-984-3953 or website

News releases

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Southern's SP 6051 Diesel locomotive. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

June 10, 2013
Sutter's Fort explores political turmoil in early California

Cannon firing SF.JPGThis month's Hands on History series focuses on the political unrest and military action California experienced in 1846, a time when the Mexican territory was threatened by internal conflicts and foreign powers. The uncertainty reached a peak when as many as five flags could have flown over Sutter's Fort.

Visitors to Sutter's Fort will enjoy reenacted political debates, history scavenger hunts, musket demos and cannon firings.

What: Hands on History: War in California!
Where: Sutter's Fort, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: June 15, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6-17), free for children 5 and under
For more info: 916-445-4422 or website.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cannon firing demonstration at Sutter's Fort. 2005 photograph by Steve Prey. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

June 6, 2013
D-Day: 69th anniversary
D Day007.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee political cartoon by Newton Pratt, published June 7, 1944.

June 5, 2013
Quality history videos available from Annenberg Learner

The West video.JPGReaders of this blog probably have heard of iTunes U, Apple's massive source of recordings of collegiate lecture classes, panel discussions and speeches produced by academic institutions in the United States and Britain.

But I bet you're unaware of Annenberg Learner. It's an impressive online collection of multimedia resources intended to help improve teaching across the K-12 curriculum. The core of the program are quality video series produced in partnership with WGBH, Oregon Public Broadcasting and other public media outlets.

Although designed for teachers, adult learners will enjoy the many video episodes on U.S., European and world history. Streaming versions of the programs are free and generally last about 30 minutes. (You can purchase them as DVDs.)

America's History in the Making: U.S. history from before Columbus through Reconstruction.

A Biography of America: U.S. history told as a narrative rather than a set of facts.

Bridging World History: Global history explained as a complex of interrelated patterns.

The Constitution -- That Delicate Balance: Key decisions, issues and controversies in U.S. legal history.

Democracy in America: Structure and dynamics of federal and state government.

Out of the Past: Archaeological and anthropological insight into the evolution of past civilizations into modern societies.

The Western Tradition: Development of Western civilization seen through its culture, politics, science and industry.

IMAGE CREDIT: "The West," an episode in Annenberg Learner's video series A Biography of America.

June 4, 2013
Art competition captures the spirit of California pioneers

GOLD RUSH photo.JPGThe California Museum will debut a new exhibit of contemporary artwork capturing the spirit of early California prior to 1869.

The pieces are finalists in the California Pioneer Heritage Art Contest sponsored by the California Heritage Pioneer Foundation. The competition allows a wide variety of media: painting, sculpture, drawings, textiles, ceramics, photography, and printmaking. You can view a gallery of the 2010 contest entries on the Foundation's website. There's also a video of the 2010 exhibition at the Folsom History Museum.

What: California Pioneer Spirit in Art exhibit
Where: California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: June 7 thru Sept. 1. Museum hours: Monday closed; Tues. thru Sat. 10 to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday 12 to 5:00 p.m.
Cost: General Admission (18+) $8.50; college students & seniors (65+) w/valid ID $7.00; youth (6-17) $6.00; children (5 & under) free; California Museum, NARN and Time Travelers members free.
For more info: 916-653-7524 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: George H. Johnson's hand-painted photograph of '49ers entitled "Miners with Rocker and Blue Shirts." AP Photo/National Museum of American Art

June 3, 2013
Native American elders honored as tradition keepers

SIM Gathering of Honored Elders.jpgNative elders from around the state will gather Saturday at the California State Indian Museum to be honored for their efforts to preserve and share tribal traditions and culture.

The event will include Native American dancers, guest speakers, community service organizations, arts and crafts vendors and door prizes of unique, native-made gifts. A special lunch will be provided to the honorees and visitors may purchase food at the gathering.

Gathering of Honored Elders is co-sponsored by the California State Parks, California Indian Heritage Center Foundation, Buena Vista Rancheria, Hutuanape Foundation, Jackson Rancheria, Native American Health Center, Shingle Springs TANF, Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, the United Auburn Indian Community and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

What: 36th Annual "Gathering of Honored Elders" Event
Where: State Indian Museum State Historic Park, 2618 K Street in Sacramento
When: June 8. Event hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0971 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California State Indian Museum

About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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