Located in Midtown Sacramento, Sutter’s Fort is famous for being the oldest restored fort in the country, having been originally built in 1839. Boasting a captivating collection of early California artefacts, Sutter’s Fort showcases the pioneer spirit of the families that first arrived for the California Gold Rush, making it a fantastic destination for learning more about the region’s history.
The Main Building
The Main Building of the fort was built between 1841 and 1843, and is the fort’s only original surviving structure. This building is extremely significant when it comes to the history of the Gold Rush, as it was from here that James Marshall privately met with Sutter to show him the gold that Marshall had discovered.
The Restoration of the Fort
While Sutter’s Fort was an important structure in its time, it fell into complete disrepair by 1871. Recognizing that the state was about to lose a significant piece of its heritage, the fort and its grounds were purchased by the Native Sons of the Golden West, who then turned it over to the state in 1891. This is when reconstruction began, and the newly renovated fort was once again opened to the public in 1905.
Hands On History
In order for visitors to be able to truly immerse themselves in the history of Sutter’s Fort, the fort regularly hosts Hands on History events, offering up interactive activities that visitors can really get involved in. The next event is titled By Land and By Sea, and provides visitors with the opportunity to do everything from learning to navigate using just a sextant and the stars, to packing a wagon for a journey of a lifetime. As with all Hands on History events, the day ends with the firing of the Russian-made cannon at Sutter’s Fort, which is always the highlight for most visitors.
Sutter’s Fort or Bust
Sutter’s Fort or Bust is a 45-minute interactive program that tells the tale of Sutter’s Fort being California’s first mall. Beginning with the arrival of John Sutter, and the journey that he took to reach Sacramento, and ending with the way in which Sutter influenced the lives of people all over the world by inviting them to start a new life in California, this is a fantastic way to learn more about John Sutter and his legacy.
Sutter’s Fort Museum Collection
While the Sutter’s Fort Museum Collection may only be home to a small number of personal items belonging to Sutter, these are still more than enough to give visitors more of an idea of what the man was like. From the very lamp that illuminated the gold that James Marshall brought from California, to a well-thumbed through German prayer book, each of these items were donated by personal friends of Sutter and his wife, and are all artefacts that were kept close to the man’s heart.
The California Gold Rush was a hugely influential time in history, and Sutter’s Fort does a great job of showcasing the region’s role in it all. The fort’s special events and interactive programs are definitely worth experiencing, so do check the schedule of these on the fort’s website before planning your visit.