The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Old Sacramento Tours Descend To History Underground

By Jennifer Crane, The Sacramento Bee (TNS)

SACRAMENTO, California — The sun doesn’t shine here, but it used to.

A path made of old, cracking wood leads into a dark tunnel. The air is dusty, the lighting dim and the brick walls crumbling.

This ancient underground is part of Sacramento’s history and is open for tours.

The Old Sacramento Underground Tours, started six years ago by city historian Marcia Eymann, offer both a family-friendly interactive history tour and an adult tour that also covers gambling, crime and prostitution in Sacramento.

The underground experience educates the Sacramento community and visitors on the rich history of the region, said Shawn Turner, manager of the Old Sacramento Underground Tours.

“People don’t realize the Old Sac they are walking in is not actually the original city. It is actually 25 feet below,” Turner said of the Front Street area.

Most of the buildings were lifted while others were destroyed to make room for newer buildings, Turner said. Some of the buildings, such as a few hotels and the Fat City Bar & Restaurant at the corner of Front and J streets, were left at their original level with a level built on top, out of reach of floodwaters.

The tale of the up-and-coming capital of California is filled with loss and triumph.

Steve Rossi, a tour guide who is working toward a master’s degree in history at Sacramento State, said he enjoys leading visitors and sharing his knowledge about Sacramento’s past.

“It is such a unique story,” Rossi said. “The city was destroyed so many times, but kept coming back.”

As Turner puts it, “The history of Sacramento is a story of birth, death and rebirth.”

John Sutter planned to establish a town named Sutterville outside of Sacramento. Plans changed with the discovery of gold in 1848 and later in the rivers of the Sierra Nevada and the Sacramento River. Sam Brannan, an elder in the Mormon church who became California’s first millionaire, persuaded Sutter to form the city next to the water, which was a port for shipping goods to mining areas. Shortly after, Brannan ushered in a great migration of people to search for gold. Brannan and John Augustus Sutter Jr., Sutter’s son, laid out the city in 1848. Brannan named the city “Sacramento” after the river.

To Sacramento’s dismay, the early 1850s was an era of fires and flooding. Then, from late December 1861 through February 1862 a disastrous flood swept over the city. During this period, Sacramento experienced snow and 45 days of heavy rainfall. Thirty inches of rain fell in two months. The filled American River broke through the levee around the city.

In 1864 Sacramento residents came together, laced up their boots and started to uniformly lift the city. The city was lifted an average of 9{ feet above the flooding. The buildings were lifted with screw jacks by the muscle of community members.

“The city was rather proud and full of itself,” Turner said. “These buildings and businesses were built fancy and were imposing. They weren’t going to move somewhere else.”

The underground tour guides come from different backgrounds but were selected because they share a passion for the history. Some dress in costume and act out figures from the time. Each tour guide uses his or her own knowledge, so no two tours are alike, Turner said.

“I think it is important to know where we come from and to have fun while learning about it,” said Julie Ivanovich, Sacramento native and the educational and interpretive programs assistant at the Sacramento History Museum.

“This city (has) survived all these catastrophes and will need to again,” Turner said.

———

UNDERGROUND TOURS

Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St., Old Sacramento

When: Weekends April-December. Weekday tours vary by month; check tour calendar.

Cost: $10-$15, children 5 and under free, although the tour is not recommended for young children

Information: sachistorymuseum.org, 916-808-7973

Photo: Old saloon bottles found in the ground are displayed in a case as visitors learn about Sacramento, Calif., history while on The Old Sacramento Underground Tour on June 22, 2015. (Lezlie Sterling/Sacramento Bee/TNS)

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Hillary Clinton

Critics mocked former President Donald Trump after the Republican abandoned his lawsuit against New York Attorney General Laeticia James on Friday, hours after a Florida federal judge fined him for the “strategic abuse of the judicial process” for political purposes.

Keep reading...Show less

Trump rioters outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021

Youtube Screenshot

Arrests continue to be made as more information is revealed and investigations continue into the U.S. Capitol riot that occurred on January 6, 2021. Most recently, on Wednesday, three active-duty Marines were arrested for their participation in the insurrection, according to court documents unsealed Thursday. Identified as Micah Coomer, Joshua Abate, and Dodge Dale Hellonen, the three men were arrested on four charges each in relation to their participation in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol two years ago, Military.com reported.

Since Marine Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, who was taken into custody in May 2021 on nine charges, the three men are the first active-duty military members to be arrested in connection with the failed insurrection. Records provided to Military.com indicate that all three work in jobs connected to the intelligence community, have been enlisted for more than four years, and have been awarded good conduct medals in the past.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}