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Sutter’s Fort

Sutter’s Fort was a 19th-century agricultural and trade colony in the Mexican Alta California province. Established in 1839, the site of the fort was originally called New Helvetia (New Switzerland) by its builder John Sutter, though construction of the fort proper would not begin until 1841. The fort was the first non-indigenous community in the California Central Valley. The fort is famous for its association with the Donner Party, the California Gold Rush, and the formation of the city of Sacramento, California. In addition, it is notable for its proximity to the end of the California Trail and Siskiyou Trails, which served as a waystation.  The fort was abandoned after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill (also owned by John Sutter) in Coloma on January 24, 1848. The adobe structure has been restored to its original condition and is now administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. EZ Sacramento Junk Removal


The fort’s main building is a two-story adobe structure built between 1841 and 1843. This building is the only original surviving structure at the reconstructed Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. On January 28, 1848, James Marshall met privately with John Sutter to show him the gold that Marshall had found while constructing Sutter’s sawmill along the American River only four days earlier. Sutter built the original fort with walls 2.5 feet (0.76 m) thick and 15 to 18 feet (5.5 m) high. Pioneers took residence at Sutter’s Fort around 1841. Following word of the Gold Rush, the fort was largely deserted by the 1850s and fell into disrepair.   John Sutter’s desk, photographed at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park In 1891, the Native Sons of the Golden West, who sought to safeguard many of the landmarks of California’s pioneer days, purchased and rehabilitated Sutter’s Fort when the City of Sacramento sought to demolish it. Repair efforts were completed in 1893, and the fort was given by the Native Sons of the Golden West to the State of California. In 1947, the fort was transferred to the authority of California State Parks. Making Nails at Sutter’s Fort, Sacramento Most of the original neighborhood structures were built in the late 1930s as residences, many of which have been converted to commercial uses such as private medical practices. As a result, the history of the neighborhood is largely residential.


The party led by John Sutter landed on the bank of the American River in August 1839. The group included three Europeans and a Native American boy, probably to serve as interpreters. However, most of the colony’s first members were Native Hawaiians. Sutter had entered a contract with the governor of Hawaii to hire eight men and two women for three years. Once the first camp was set up, Sutter arranged for local Miwok and Nisenan people to build the first building, a three-room adobe.

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