Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

July 31, 2013
Sacramento's old eateries focus of next cemetery tour

MC_BREWER_TOUR12.JPGThe next Historic City Cemetery gathering will take visitors on a tour of Sacramento's "diners, drive-ins and dives" of yesteryear. Volunteer Docent Eric Bradner will describe every kind of venue -- from primitive tents to lavish dining rooms.

Making an appearance this Saturday will be special guest Maryellen Burns, author of the recently published Lost Restaurants of Sacramento and Their Recipes. Burns will be on hand to sell (and sign) her book.

What: Saloons & Eateries Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: Aug. 3, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: (916) 448-0811 or (916) 264-7839 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: The gravesite of Henry K. McLennan at Sacramento Historic City Cemetery one of the stops on a tour of pioneer brewers led by Dr. Bob LaPerriere, a local historian. In 1872 McLennan was part owner of the Phoenix saloon at 107 K Street. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Manny Crisostomo

July 29, 2013
Automobile museum car cruise Saturday

Whether you like lowriders, muscle cars, vintage coupes or European sports cars, there will be eye candy for everyone Saturday at the fifth annual California Automobile Museum Car Cruise.

About 350 gleaming automotive specimens are scheduled to leave Lot 1 of California State University, Sacramento, at 4 p.m.

They will head east on Fair Oaks Boulevard and turn left onto Fulton Avenue, Sacramento's car dealership row.

By 5 p.m., the cruisers will park in a closed-off section of Fulton Avenue between Marconi and El Camino avenues.

The car show will last until 8:30 p.m. and will include food trucks, a beer garden and live music by Sacramento-area band Todd Morgan & the Emblems.

More than 20 car show awards will be handed out around 7:30 p.m. A sampling of the winners, listed on the museum website: a 1929 Ford Tudor, a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe, a 1967 Chevy Caprice lowrider, a 1956 Nash Ambassador, a 1958 Chevy Corvette and a 1950 Jaguar Mark V.

There is no charge for spectators.

The cruise is a partnership of the museum and the Fulton Avenue Association. Proceeds benefit the museum.

- Mary Lynne Vellinga

PHOTO CREDIT: Ron Happe waves to cars as they cruise J St. during the 2nd Annual CAM Car Cruise. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose Luis Villegas

July 26, 2013
'Rosie the Riveter' remembered in oral history collection

With so many men in serving in the military during World War II, young women moved to the Bay Area to work on the assemble lines that manufactured the guns, ships, tanks and planes needed for the Arsenal of Democracy.

Their wartime experiences these Rosie the Riveters are preserved in recorded interviews compiled by the Regional Oral History Office of UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Reminiscing about life and work during the war, the women discuss, among other things, the balance between job and family, gender and race relations, and how wartime experiences shaped their lives after the conflict ended.

You can get a taste of the project by watching a brief YouTube video containing snippets of some of the oral histories.

July 25, 2013
Art in August at Central Library
Art in August.JPG

There will be plenty of local art history featured this summer as Central Library hosts its first annual Art in August program series.

On August 13, Dr. Elaine O'Brien, professor of art history at Sacramento State University, will visit Central Library to deliver a fascinating free lecture on art of the Sacramento area during the tumultuous 60s and 70s. In her talk entitled "Glory Days: The Sacramento-Region Art World of the 1960s and 1970s," O'Brien will discuss regional art galleries; alternative spaces and art departments that accommodated a range of avant-garde practices like Funk; the politicized art of the Royal Chicano Air Force; and Native Northern California artists who radically redefined their traditions.

Art displays will also be on view in the Central Library lobby and Sacramento Room throughout the month. While the lobby will be a showcase for local artists, the Sacramento Room will be exhibiting rare books, historical bookplates, copper printing plates and other printing tools, striking botanical books and plates, early lithographs and art with the city of Sacramento as subject, and conceptual art of the library itself.

What: Glory Days: The Sacramento-Region Art World of the 1960s and 1970s
When: Tuesday, August 13, 6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, 828 I Street, Sacramento
Cost: Free
For more info: Visit or call (916) 264-2920

July 24, 2013
Podcast series spotlights new books in history

NBIH.JPGThis blog is always on the lookout for quality audio and video programs in the field of history. We've mentioned the college lectures supplied by iTunes U and C-SPAN, podcast series such as Back Story and My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, and the video courses available through Annenberg's

Recently our radar found New Books in History, a podcast series of interviews with authors of new published works of academic history. Although the subject matter can sometimes be arcane, these discussions are usually lively and accessible. Recent programs featured a provocative study of Russian KGB infiltration of the United States in the mid-20th century and a fascinating look at the experiences of Americans who visited Europe between 1750 and 1860.

New Books in History is part of the New Books Network, a consortium of free audio interview programs with writers from nearly 100 academic disciplines, ranging from the arts and humanities to the sciences and social sciences. Other NBN series of historical interest include New Books in: American Studies, African American Studies, Archaeology, Biography, Communications, Gender Studies, Historical Fiction, Intellectual History, Journalism, Military History, Political Science, Popular Culture and Technology.

You can retrieve and play New Books in History interviews through Apple iTunes or copy-paste the RSS feed into your favorite podcast media player.

July 22, 2013
Book details Folsom Prison executions

FOLSOM PRISON 1.JPGAuthor April Moore will discuss and read from her new book, Folsom's 93: The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men, at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St. in Sacramento.

Behind the news: Moore, an illustrator who serves as visual designer for the Northern Colorado Writers Association, recounts the lives and crimes of the 93 men executed at Folsom prison before executions were transferred to San Quentin's gas chamber in 1937. The book is illustrated with prison photographs of each of the condemned men. Moore's novel "Bobbing for Watermelons" was a finalist in the 2008 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writers Contest.


-- Bee staff

PHOTO CREDIT: One of the thirteen cells at Old Folsom Prison's death row, which no longer exists. The last execution took place in 1927 at Old Folsom. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose M. Osorio

July 22, 2013
State Archives behind-the-scenes tours

Archives.JPGThe California State Archives houses a mind-boggling variety of materials: millions of government documents, thousands of maps, architectural drawings, video and audio recordings, artifacts and ephemera. Plus really precious items such as the original state constitution. Minerva, the Archives' online catalog, provides easy-to-access indexing of these vast holdings.

On one Friday each month visitors have an opportunity to go behind the scenes to tour this treasure trove of state history and government.

What: State Archives Tours
Where: California State Archives, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: 12 to 1 p.m. July 26, Aug. 30, Sept. 27 and Oct. 25. No tours scheduled in November and December.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-653-2385 or email tour coordinator

PHOTO CREDIT: California's chief archivist, Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil, leads a rare, behind-the-scenes media tour of the California State Archives. 2007 Sacramento Bee photograph by Brian Baer

July 18, 2013
New book highlights French participation in Gold Rush

RushtoGoldcover.jpgDuring the 1848-49 Gold Rush some 30,000 of the 300,000 people who flocked to California in search of wealth were French. Most of them came to the state by sea rather than overland. Their little-known story is spotlighted in a new historical work, Rush to Gold: The French and the California Gold Rush, 1848-1854.

Malcolm Rohrbough, University of Iowa emeritus professor, delved into France's Archives to research this international study of a critical period in the history of the American West. His book has been called "completely original" by one reviewer in that it tracks a specific group of people who migrated from a foreign country to California and back again.

Rush to Gold: The French and the California Gold Rush, 1848-1854
by Malcolm J. Rohrbough
Yale University Press
Hardcover, 368 pages, $40
Kindle edition, $32

July 17, 2013
Author to speak on secret WWII Japanese submarine program

operation_storm_cover.jpgA secret Japanese submarine program during World War II is the subject of the next "Meet the Author" lecture at the California State Military Museum.

This Sunday John Geoghegan will speak about his new book, Operation Storm: Japan's Top Secret Submarines and Its Plan to Change the Course of World War II, that tells the story of the last-ditch plan to bomb U.S. cities with bombers launched from huge underwater aircraft carriers -- the I-400 class "supersubs."

Geogheggan is a journalist who has written numerous aricles about the history unusual technologies for the Huffington Post and other publications. Operation Storm grew from a 2008 article in Aviation History entitled "Japan's Panama Canal Buster."

What: Meet the Author, John Geoghegan
Where: California State Military Museum, 1119 2nd St., Sacramento
When: 1:00 pm, Sunday, July 21, 1 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (916) 854-1900 or website

Publisher's book website

July 16, 2013
Get your family treasures evaluated at Folsom fundraiser

P1000402.JPGHere's an opportunity to get your vintage quilt, jewelry or clothing evaluated and support the Folsom History Museum at the same time.

Bring your family treasure to Folsom's historic Sutter St. this Saturday. Expert appraisers will be on hand to examine items and estimate their current market value for a small donation. They are also able to gauge the date of old (full-body) photographs.

There's no limit on the number of evaluations. Proceeds will benefit the Museum's programs.

What: Out of Grandma's Trunk -- Mini Evaluation Day
Where: Folsom History Museum, 823 Sutter Street, Folsom
When: July 20, 11 to 1 p.m.
Cost: $8 per item evaluated or $35 for five items. Photo dating $8 for up to three.
For more info: 916-985-2707 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Dress and quilts on display at the Folsom History Museum. 2007 photograph courtesy Folsom History Museum

July 15, 2013
Vintage diesel locomotives featured in weekend excursion rides

Thumbnail image for SP Diesel 6051.jpgTwo early diesel-electric locomotives will take center-stage three weekends this summer in Old Sacramento.

Western Pacific No. 913 and Southern Pacific No. 6051 will take passengers on the scenic 40-minute excursion rides along the Sacramento River. Both engines will run Saturday and Sunday.

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.). But you can reserve a seat on the luxury El Dorado car by purchasing a ticket online in advance.

What: Diesel Days!
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: July 20-21, Aug. 17-18 & Sept. 21-22, 2013. Weekend excursion train rides depart hourly from 11 to 5 p.m. Museum is open 10 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 car. Museum admission $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under.
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Southern Pacific No. 6051 operated by the Sacramento Southern Railroad. Courtesy California State railroad Museum.

July 12, 2013
Historic City Cemetery explores the seamy side of early Sacramento

DS_HISTORY_LEADER.JPGEarly Sacramento's notorious characters are the target of the next Historic City Cemetery tour.

Costumed docents will share stories of the "sinners, snake-oil salesmen, crooked lawyers, gamblers, dancers and gold diggers" during this special fundraising event. (Warning: tour may contain adult content.) Besides the graveside walking tour, visitors will be treated to entertainment and refreshments.

Tickets are going fast. You can purchase them online from Brown Paper Tickets. Or call 800-838-3006.

What: Law & Disorder tour
Where: Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: July 20, 6:30 and 8:00 p.m
Cost: $25 per person, includes tour, floor show, hot dog and sarsaparilla.
For more info: (916) 448-0811 or website

Event flyer
News release

PHOTO CREDIT: John Bettencourt leads a walking tour in the Historic City Cemetery. 1998 Sacramento Bee photograph by Dick Schmidt

July 12, 2013
San Francisco Bay's human and natural history examined in new book

The history of San Francisco is not only the story of a great world city, it's also the story of a great body of water that both supported and was impacted by rapid urban growth.

In his natural (and human) history of San Francisco Bay, author Matthew Morse Booker focuses on waterfront and tidal wetlands. It is there that decades of human activity, such as dredging and upriver hydraulic mining, have reshaped, polluted and irrevocably altered the marine environment.

A book review in Boom: A Journal of California calls Down by the Bay "an unsentimental history" that warns: "for almost every action that humans have taken in and around the bay, there have been equal and opposite reactions, usually detrimental to fish, fowl and the fecundity of the environment."

Booker, currently Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University, leads the Between the Tides project at Stanford University.

Down by the Bay: San Francisco's History between the Tides
by Matthew Morse Booker
University of California Press
Hardcover, 294 pages, $29.95
Kindle edition, $16.47

July 11, 2013
New app brings Old Sacramento to your mobile device

Local history meets high tech in the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation's new application for Apple's mobile devices. Old Sacramento -- which works with iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches running iOS 4.3 or later -- delivers a plethora of information about the landmarks and amenities available in the historical area.

Clicking on an item in the Landmarks Map gets you the address, photos and a brief history of the structure. The Amenities Map shows Museums, parking, bike racks, bank ATMs and rest rooms.

The basic application is free. For $1.99 you can purchase the additional Activities Pack which features a trivia game, scavenger hunt and a "Murder & Mayhem" tour of Old Sacramento. Those who complete the games will receive a treat from Evangelines, a prize from the Sacramento History Museum and/or a discount on food from Ten22.

Right now Old Sacramento only works on Apple devices, but an Android version is in the works.

July 10, 2013
Old Sacramento walking tours resume
Architectural detail.jpg

As interesting as the underground tours are, there's a lot of fascinating things to see above ground in Old Sacramento. Local history fans will enjoy two different walking tours that return this summer:

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 Street in Old Sacramento
When: weekends thru Aug. 25. Saturdays at 11 a.m., Sacramento City: California's Gold Rush Legacy Tour. Sundays at 11 a.m., Old Sacramento Architectural Tour: From Canvas to Brick.
Cost: $5 for adults and youths; children 5 and under are free
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Architectural detail. Courtesy Historic Old Sacramento Foundation

July 8, 2013
Gold Rush explored in next Sutter's Fort tour

SF HOH scale & coins.jpgThe discovery of gold in 1848 brought thousands of people to California to seek their fortune. Many of them stayed at Sutter's Fort before heading to the gold fields and John Sutter made a lot of money selling supplies to would-be miners. Most of them came back from the fields disappointed only to be "fleeced" by unscrupulous traders, businessmen, and gamblers.

The knowledgeable docents of Sutter's Fort will explain the miners' hopes and struggles in the next "Hands on History" day. Visitors will be treated to demonstrations of vintage guns, cannons and other period weaponry, plus get to try gold panning, old-time gambling, bowling and other games.

What: Hands on History -- Mining the Miners!
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, 2701 L St., Sacramento
When: July 20, 10 to 5 p.m. Cannon firing demonstrations: 11 a.m., 1 and 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: 916-445-4422 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Scale and coins on display at Sutter's Fort. Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

July 5, 2013
Dustbowl disaster featured in new Capitol exhibit

CM Dust Bowl Exhibit 2013 -5.jpgThe State Capitol Museum recently opened a new exhibit on the devastating drought and dust bowl that afflicted Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas and forced 300,000 refugees to migrate to California.

Illustrated with lyrics and writings of Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck plus photographs by the Depression photographer Dorothea Lange, the exhibition brings to life the cultural, social and political impact these migrants had on the state.

What: The Dust Bowl, California, and the Politics of Hard Times
Where: California State Capitol Museum, Room B-27, 10th and L Sts., Sacramento
When: Though May 15, 2014. Weekdays, 8 to 5 p.m. Weekends, 9 to 5 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0333 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California State Capitol Museum

July 4, 2013
Have a great Independence Day

4th July011.jpg IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee cartoon by Newton Pratt published on July 4, 1938.

July 2, 2013
Maidu Museum offers kids archaeology camp

IMG_6087small.jpgThe Maidu Museum is offering a week-long archaeology camp for children ages 8-11. Participants will learn the techniques of the discipline while getting hands-on experience uncovering artifacts from Roseville's ranching period. Recovered items will be displayed in the Museum.

Maidu Museum Cultural Anthropologist and docent Heidi Frantz will lead the camp.

For registration forms and information about the city's other recreational programs, see the Roseville Recreation Guide.

What: Hands On Archaeology Camp
Where: Maidu Museum & Historic Site, 1970 Johnson Ranch Dr., Roseville
When: July 8-12, 9:30 to 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $119 per child ($109 Resident Discount)
For more info: (916) 772-7529 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy City of Roseville

July 2, 2013
Historic Cemetery deciphers fraternal symbolism in next tour

In Sacramento's early days, fraternal orders and secret societies helped to build community and provide services to various immigrant groups.

In their next tour, the knowledgeable docents of the Historic City Cemetery docents will explain how these organizations preserved old traditions through the use of symbols that are displayed on grave markers.

What: Fraternal Orders, Secret Societies and Symbolism
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: July 6, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated
For more info: 916-448-0811 or website

Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Old Sacramento City Cemetery tombstone displaying the Knights Templar as well as the Freemason symbols. Douglas Keister Photography

July 1, 2013
Railtown offers more train rides this holiday weekend

Sierra 3 Bell Mooney Road (small).JPGRailtown 1897 SHP will offer additional vintage train rides this long holiday weekend. On all four days, Sierra No. 3, the famous "Movie Star Locomotive" will be taking passengers on excursions through the beautiful Gold Country hills. Old-timey musicians Bill Schneiderman (July 4&5) and Dave Rainwater (July 6&7) will provide entertainment during the rides.

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.

Visitors are encouraged to spend extra time picnicking and touring the historic Roundhouse.

What: Train Rides Behind Sierra No. 3 During 4th of Extended Holiday!
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: July 4-7. 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
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Sierra No. 3, the "movie star" steam locomotive at Railtown 1897 in Jamestown. Courtesy Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

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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