Sacramento is the county seat of Sacramento County, California and the capital of the U.S. state of California. It was founded in December 1848 by John Sutter Jr.. Sacramento was an outgrowth of Sutter's Fort which was established by his father Captain John Sutter in 1839. During the gold rush Sacramento was a major distribution point, a commercial and agricultural center, and terminus for wagon train, stagecoach, riverboat, telegraph, Pony Express, and the First Transcontinental Railroad.
The City is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River, and is a deepwater port via a channel to Suisun Bay and San Francisco. It is the shipping, rail, processing, and marketing center for the Sacramento Valley, where fruit, vegetables, rice, wheat, and dairy goods are produced, cattle are raised, and food processing is a major industry.
The Sacramento International Airport handles flights coming from and going to various United States destinations (including Hawai'i) and to/from Mexico.
Sacramento is located around 85 miles northeast of San Francisco, California on Interstate 80 and 135 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada on Interstate 80; It is 385 miles north of Los Angeles on Interstate 5.
How We Got Here...
Miwok, Shonommey and Maidu Indians lived in this area for perhaps thousands of years. Unlike the settlers that would eventually make Sacramento their home, these Indians would leave little evidence of their existence. Their diet was dominated with acorns taken from the plentiful oak trees in the region and by eating fruits, bulbs, seeds, and roots throughout the year.
The Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River after the Spanish term for "holy sacrament", in either 1806 or 1808.
The pioneer John Sutter arrived from Liestal, Switzerland in the Sacramento area with other settlers in August, 1839 and established the trading colony Sutter's Fort (also called New Helvetia) in 1840. Gold was subsequently discovered in Sutter's Mill (located in nearby Coloma) in 1848, leading to a large increase in population as gold-seekers came to the area. John Sutter Jr. then planned the City of Sacramento, against the wishes of his father, naming the city after the Sacramento River for commercial reasons. He hired topographical engineer William H. Warner to draft the official layout of the city. However, a bitterness grew between the elder Sutter and his son as Sacramento became an overnight commercial success (Sutter's Fort, Mill and the town of Sutterville, that were all founded by John Sutter Sr., would eventually fail).
The part of Sacramento originally laid out by William Warner is situated just east and south of where the American River meets the Sacramento River (though over time it has grown to extend significantly north, south, and east of there). A number of directly adjacent towns or cities enlarge the overall greater Sacramento area to a much larger size.
The citizens of Sacramento adopted a city charter in 1849, which was recognized by the state legislature in 1850. Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California. During the early 1850's the Sacramento valley was devastated by floods, fires and from cholera epidemics. Despite this, because of its position just downstream from the Mother Lode in the Sierra Nevada, the newfound city grew, quickly reaching a population of 10,000.
After a few years of wandering throughout the State, the California Legislature named Sacramento as the permanent home of the State Capital in 1854. Built to be reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., this Renaissance Revival style granite building was not completed until 1874. With its newfound status and strategic location, Sacramento quickly prospered and became the western end of the Pony Express, and later the First Transcontinental Railroad (which began construction in Sacramento in 1863 and was financed by the "Big Four" - Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, Collis P. Huntington and Leland Stanford).
The same rivers that earlier brought death and destruction began to provide increasing levels of transportation and commerce. Both the American and especially Sacramento rivers would be key elements in economic success of the city. In fact, Sacramento effectively controlled commerce on these rivers, and public works projects were funded though taxes levied on goods unloaded from boats and loaded onto rail cars in the historic Sacramento Rail Yards.
Sacramentans raised the level of the city by landfill. The previous first floors of buildings became the basements, in an effort to control the flooding. Now both rivers are used extensively for watersports. The American River is off limits to boats and has become an international attraction for rafters. The Sacramento River sees many boaters, who can make day trips to nearby sloughs or go all along the Delta to the Bay Area and San Francisco. The 'Delta King' , which for a long time lay on the bottom of the river, was refurbished and is now a popular hotel and restaurant.