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SUTTER’S FORT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

SUTTER’S FORT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton


Experience California’s history at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento.

My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton visited Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, California in September 2019. She took all the photosin this post. 

SUTTER’S FORT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton


The main gate, as seen from outside the fort.

After years of visiting family in Sacramento, I finally made it downtown to Sutter’sFort. Founded in 1839 by John Sutter, a Swiss entrepreneur, it is an important place in California’s history because it was near the end of the California Trail (followed by emigrants in covered wagons, half-way across the continent)and it was associated with the California Gold Rush. This made Sutter’s Fort a key point in the dreams of pioneers spurred on by unbridled ambition and wild hope.
As a fort where they could seek refuge and find protection, I had imagined a fortress. But it’s so small!
Inside the fort the wall is lined with a single row of reconstructed rooms and historic work areas, except where two gates open. Only one building stands in the middle, the former administration building.
Why, then, the advice to allow two hours to visit? Because, in addition to strolling around and looking inside every room, it’s worth listening to the audio commentary, triggered when leaning into the doorway of each room. After an introduction to the room’s function in its context, actors’ voices read quotes from diaries and letters to immerse visitors in life at the fort.

SUTTER’S FORT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton

My favorite was the horse tack room, with types of saddles and wooden stirrups I’d never seen before, because as a horse lover, learning new horse stuff makes my day.

Each room--from the horse tack room to John Sutter’s bedroom to the kitchen to the jail--is labeled on the one-page map provided at the entrance. The rooms are full of every-day items, which help picture life in the 1800s. Hopefully they are devoid of the fleas that tormented residents and guests!

SUTTER’S FORT IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton

The only original building is the former administration building. Upstairs are the long wooden table and benches where all those present at the fort ate their meals.

My other favorite place at the fort was the upstairs room in the administration building with its wooden table and benches, because as a writer, I’d love to work there on new children’s stories-- perhaps a horse story having to do with the fort or the period when it was used. After all, Sutter’s Fort was the end point of the Pony Express, the Old West mail service relay staffed by orphan boys riding horses at top gallop. From now on, the fort’s name will also evoke dreams for me to achieve, modest ones compared to those of the pioneers’.
An extra hour on site is enough to visit the California State Indian Museum, housed in a small building outside of the fort, but inside the same small city park. Plans are underway to move this museum to the California Indian Heritage Center, in a different location in Sacramento. Like many visitors, I found the miniature, fingernail-size baskets to be the most amazing display. Since photography is not allowed, you’ll have to go see them for yourself!

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