On Saturday, Aug. 16, California State Parks and Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) will present a special “Hands on History” event commemorating John Sutter’s arrival to the Sacramento region 175 years ago that led to the building of Sutter’s Fort, the discovery of gold and the founding of the city of Sacramento.
John Sutter landed on the bank of the American River in August of 1839 and went on to found the New Helvetia area on which Sutter’s Fort was later constructed.
In addition to commemorative festivities, special guests and interpretive presentations are happening at the fort, some of the hands-on activities and activity stations set up for the day will include a stencil rubbing station of John Sutter’s brand (once used on cattle, horses, mules, sheep and his property as well); a pioneer dress-up station where families dress as pioneers (perfect for picture-taking); pen and quill activity station; period-appropriate laundry station; period games for kids; a corn husk doll craft station; cooking demonstrations using iron ware with tastings of food prepared in the outdoor brick bake oven, and a display of guns and weapons from the Gold Rush era complete with demonstrations of black powder weaponry highlighted by the crowd-favorite firing of Sutter’s cannon.
Also part of the day is the arrival of a wagon — provided by Top Hand Ranch — that will transport local dignitaries from Sutter’s Landing to the fort as the park opens for the day; rarely-seen Sutter family and fort artifacts on display such as a work boot that purportedly was worn by Sutter and a geography book that belonged to Sutter that was published in 1838 when he first set out for California; and special guests on-site, including some of Sutter’s descendants.
Because the 175th anniversary of Sutter’s Fort happens the same year that California State Parks is celebrating its 150th anniversary, fort visitors will have the opportunity to watch a short pictorial history of California State Parks and find out how the anniversary commemoration for California State Parks and Yosemite evolved.
Presented by Mike Lynch, co-chair of the California State Parks 150th Anniversary Committee, the special presentation will include a showing of the Ken Burns film “Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit.”
Located in midtown Sacramento on L Street between 26th and 28th streets, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The cost is $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6-17) and free for children 5 and under.