By Carol Dabrowiak
The evidence is right there. As soon as someone points it out to you, you can see it. A doorway or a window that was bricked in. Remnants of columns that were left in a park. It's pretty apparent there is a city of Sacramento below the City of Sacramento.
When we took the Underground Sacramento Tour in Old Sacramento, we learned about the tragedies that befell Sacramento in the 1800s. First floods washed away the city, then a fire destroyed it, then another epic flood and finally locusts. OK, I made up the locust part. But Sacramento had a rough go of it in the beginning.
Finally the city fathers decided to raise the city up ten feet. They started by raising the walkways. But then the shops were below street level, and patrons had to climb up and down ladders to get to the shops. So shop owners had to raise their own establishments. They hired workers who used old-fashioned jacks to slowly crank the buildings up. Some owners just built a new building on top of the structure down below. It took 15 years to complete the project.
Our tour guide, Miss Odette (in period costume) guided us through the lower levels in Old Sacramento. She told us about the shops that would have been above us. They included saloons, laundries and brothels. There are also display cases with items recovered during the archeological dig such as ceramic dishes and whiskey bottles. Everything a gold rush city needed in the 1800s. It is a fascinating tour about an amazing engineering feat.
This tour is a Sacramento attraction that is not to be missed. The new season of tours starts March 31. To learn more about the Underground Sacramento Tour, click here for more information.