Today, Sacramento is the capital city of the Golden State of California. Occupying the space between two magnificent rivers – the American River and Sacramento River – the city is famous for its spectacular natural landscape, hot weather, agricultural industry, farm festivals, various cultural events, and political life. This city attracts tourists for its views and history, as well as new residents for growing career opportunities.
However, Sacramento has not always been what it is today. With its history going back to the mid-19th century and even further, this city is living evidence of how most cities came to be in the United States during those times.
There are tons of facts one can learn about Sacramento. In this article, we will give you five of the most curious facts of the city’s history that many people don’t seem to know.
Fact 1: Sacramento was not originally chosen as the capital city of the state
That’s true. Sacramento was not the first city where California’s government resided. Originally, the state’s capital city was Monterey. In fact, California has had several changes in its capital cities. In different time periods, the state’s government resided in Benicia, a city located in the north of San Francisco, San Jose, Vallejo, and San Franciso itself. All those changes happened in the 19th century until 1879. That’s the year when Sacramento was finally made the state’s capital – the city has preserved the status to this day.
The main reason for making Sacramento California’s administrative center is purely geographical. The city is located far off from the ocean coast, which made it a lot harder to invade – in the 19th century, most invasions were mainly from the sea, so having a capital city on the coast where cannonballs could reach it and where the enemy ships could deliver troops to was not a great idea.
Fact 2: Sacramento has a seaport
Despite the aforementioned fact that Sacramento is not a coastline city, still, it has its own seaport. The port’s official name is the Port of West Sacramento. You will have to drive approximately 90 miles from San Francisco to get there. The Port serves as a harbor for large ships that carry loads to and from Sacramento. Ships arrive at the Port by the channel, which construction was started back in the 1940s.
The channel is only 30 feet deep and 43 miles long. Starting at Suisin Bay, it runs right towards West Sacramento docks. Because the channel is not too deep, it must be dredged regularly so that large cargo ships could use it. Another curious fact about the channel is that it’s actually below sea level because the Sacramento area rests above sea level at the height of only seventeen feet.
Fact 3: Sacramento’s founder had multiple citizenships
This is a well-known historical fact that Sacramento started its rise towards what it is now due to a prominent occasion that took place at the Coloma mill in 1948. People who worked there suddenly found gold. That was the beginning of the California Gold Rush which made Sacramento one of the richest cities in the state. The mill, as most people know, was owned by John Sutter, the man who settled in the Sacramento area in 1840 to build the famous Sutters Fort (which has been preserved to this day as a tourist attraction). But what you may not know is that John Sutter had three different citizenships.
First, John Sutter was born in Germany. But as a child, the man was raised in Switzerland. When John Sutter moved to North America, he lived in Mexico and acquired Mexican citizenship to be legally able to settle in the Sacramento area, where John Sutter came to prominence, financial success, and later went broke. The German-Swiss-Mexican citizen, John Sutter, ended his days in 1880 in Washington, DC.
Fact 4: Sacramento has tricky building construction
Historically, most towns, cities, and other settlements around the world are founded nearside rivers, lakes, etc. This type of location has its obvious practical advantages. But at the same time, living near water may cause certain inconveniences, so to say. For instance, floods during heavy rains or the melting of snow. Another thing that living near water is bad for is insects and other vermin that love moisture. And now, imagine having all these problems multiplied by two. Why? Because Sacramento is located not near one river but near two rivers. Actually, the city is bracketed by two big rivers, which is not the best location for a city, as the people of Sacramento learned for themselves.
Yearly floods, mosquitoes, and other moisture-loving creatures were quite a problem for Sacramento citizens, especially for the people of Old Sacramento, the original city. But eventually, these problems led to a curious building construction idea. At some point, people decided to lift their homes above the ground. As a result, most of Old Sacramento’s first floors are, in fact, second floors. Such construction type became common for new buildings. As for those buildings that were not lifted, their first floors moved upstairs, technically becoming second floors.
These days, tourists can sign up for underground excursions in Old Sacramento to see how the city looks beneath the ground level. And yeah, today, it’s mostly dry there.
Fact 5: Almond paradise
Sacramento is a place every almond lover must visit. Here resides the Blue Diamond Company, the state’s leader in producing almonds. Founded in 1911, each almond season, the company produces over a dozen million pounds of almonds – this means that if you buy almonds in Sacramento and around the area, most likely you’re buying them from the Blue Diamond company. With a successful business history of over a century-long, the Company is an essential part of Sacramento. It is impossible to imagine a city without it. Blue Diamond has its own records in gathering almonds. The most prominent years are 1931 with a crop of twenty million pounds, 2010 bringing a 1.5 billion-pound crop, and 2014 with the crop of more than two billion pounds. No wonder why Sacramento received the unofficial status of the world’s Almond Capital.
Originally inhabited by the people of Nisenan, in the mid 19th century the area between two great rivers attracted settlers from Europe and just a few years later became an important transportation and economical hub during the Gold Rush era. Today, Sacramento is a blooming city with a rich history that draws tourists from all over the world. Coming to Sacramento, you will learn how the city came to be, what obstacles it had along the way, and how generations of its citizens coped with hardships and made it the city that we know and love today.