Friday, May 1, 2015
Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
In 1841 John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant, received a land grant of 47,827 acres in the Mexican territory of Alta California from the governor, Juan Bautista Alvarado. By the time California was ceded to the United States in 1848, Sutter owned more than 150,000 acres. Using Native Americans as laborers he became quite prosperous with fields of wheat, barley, peas, beans, cotton and grapes, and large herds of cattle, horses and sheep. Hunters were sent into the mountains for furs pelts and elk hides. A distillery, flour mill, bakery, blacksmith shop, carpenter shop and weaving shop were built along the fort’s outer walls. A boat launch soon carried freight and passengers between Sutter's Fort and the San Francisco Bay.
This all ended in 1848 with the discovery of gold in the water raceway of his lumber mill located 45 miles away. Sutter’s settlement was overrun by men who helped themselves to his stock as they passed through on the way to the gold fields. His workmen quit to join in the rush. By late 1849 Sutter had sold his fort and moved to Yuba City.
Sutter’s fort is much more interesting than a military fort because of all the different activities that occurred within it’s walls. The only original building is the central building which housed Sutter’s living quarters and office. The rest of the fort has been reconstructed just slightly smaller than the original. The workshops and rooms are furnished as they would have been in Sutter’s time. The rooms are viewed from the doorways and recordings explain their function. Several rooms house a small museum.
The fort is fairly accessible. It’s located on a rise so it’s a slight uphill climb along the packed dirt paths to the entrance. The central building is accessed by steps only but a book of photographs is available to view. Some of sills at the doorways don’t fit flush with the ground. The museum is accessible.
Parking is along the street. Check the signs because each street, each side of a street and each section of a street may have different limits and restrictions. Parking is free on Sunday. RVs can fit by using more than one space but it may be necessary to park a block or two away. All of the curb cuts and sidewalks in Sacramento are in excellent condition. Fort