This weekend my wife and I went to Old Sac to take one of Sacramento’s Underground Tours.
Old Sac is a historical neighborhood in Sacramento that has turned into a bit of a tourist trap.
All the old buildings from the Gold Rush in the 1850s and 60s are still there, converted into restaurants and gift shops instead of hotels and supply stores.
(I also feel a personal responsibility to warn you about La Terraza restaurant in Old Sac. Food’s bad! Don’t be tempted by the spectacular view! Stay away!)
Bunch of old buildings, right? What can we learn from the tour?
Our tour guide, Schoolmaster Mrs. Appleton, told us the basics of Sacramento history first that every Californian knows.
Gold was discovered in 1848. Thousands of people came to grab land, dig for gold, and set up businesses.
Unfortunately, Sacramento is relatively flat and the rivers rise one or two dozen feet every few years.
There were several bad floods that made living in the city…difficult.
Should they build a huge levy? NOPE! The townspeople decided on a different course of action, lifting the city up twenty feet.
Brick walls were constructed on the sidewalk exteriors. The road between the sidewalks was filled with dirt and gravel.
The sidewalks would then be covered. The new road existed where all the dirt and gravel was placed. The new sidewalk was dubbed a “hollow sidewalk” due to the empty old sidewalk beneath it.
Building entrances were modified so you could get in on what used to be the second floor. The first floors became a basement.
Some buildings were changed in a different way. Teams of a dozen to a hundred workers slowly lifted the building up by doing the equivalent of jacking the building up and then putting wooden blocks underneath it. Put the jacks on the wooden blocks and raise the building up again.
So now you have a whole downtown district that is on stilts and has a creepy underground area!
It was pretty cool. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the underground sections. They have a suspended archaeological dig in one of the old buildings that uncovered some interesting stories about the people who lived in Sacramento 150 years ago.
It was a fun afternoon experience! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone living in the Sacramento Area who’s curious about the region’s history.