Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tours Descend to a Buried Sacramento

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tours Descend to a Buried Sacramento

Article excerpt

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - 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 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," Mr. Turner said of the Front Street area.

Most of the buildings were lifted while others were destroyed to make room for newer buildings, Mr. 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," Mr. Rossi said. "The city was destroyed so many times but kept coming back."

As Mr. 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 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 Mr. Sutter to form the city next to the water, which was a port for shipping goods to mining areas. …

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