Step into the Past
Gold Rush Days
Aug. 30 - Sept. 2, 2002
What does it take to
bring the past alive?
On Labor Day weekend 2002 in Old
Sacramento, Calif., it will merely require 460 bales of hay, 155 tons of
decomposed granite, 200 volunteers, and 120,000 fun-loving visitors.
Beginning with 1998's "Second Great
Gold Rush" -- a celebration of the 150th anniversary of that
historical event -- the City of Sacramento has, once a year,
transformed its old town historical district into a vision of the Old West.
Gold Rush Days
Labor Day Weekend,
Aug. 30-Sept. 2, 2002.
musical and dramatic entertainment,
food venders offering authentic 1850s fare.
Sacramento web site;
Convention & Visitors Bureau web site.
View photos from Gold
of earlier years.
GOLD RUSH1 and
In addition to spreading the
decomposed granite (to create the illusion of unpaved streets) and
positioning bales of hay to hide painted curbs and provide old-timey
seating, the city will be covering up parking meters and traffic signs
(requiring a great many burlap bags and American flags).
During the festivities, car traffic
will be prohibited from entering the 28-acre area and horse-drawn
carriages will roll along the dirt-covered streets. The event also
includes street dramas, period musicians, dancers, ethnic villages, arts
and crafts, and interactive gold panning exhibits. Volunteers add to the
illusion by dressing in costumes of the era. Admission
And as impossible as it may seem -- a
section of a 21st century city can be successfully transformed into
a Wild West town.
Reenactments will include a depiction of
the many ways fortune-seekers traveled to California ("Coming to
California," Aug. 30). Sacramento's famous Squatter's Riots ("Land
without Law," Aug. 31), conflicts arising between different cultures and
lifestyles ("Uneasy Neighbors," Sept. 1), and how much of the riches
acquired during the Gold Rush was the money that merchants made off of
the miners themselves ("Mining the Miners," Sept. 2). Most of the skits
will take place at Waterfront Park, Front and L streets. (See directions
to Old Sacramento at end of article.)
Other street scenes and living
history reenactments will include the "Stinking Tent" Saloon, a working
blacksmith shop, a theater house, a jail, stagecoach drivers, an assay
office, spinning and rope making exhibits, and miners and their tents,
the unglamorous lifestyle endured by the '49ers and their families.
Periodically through the weekend, the
pony express will thunder into town, new gold discoveries will be
celebrated, and the occasional horse-drawn funeral will proceed through
In addition, a main stage will be set up featuring early California
period entertainment and drama. Food vendors will be selling Gold Rush
era food, providing an authentic taste of early California history.
The restaurants and shops in Old Sacramento offer all the amenities. You can find
excellent fare at the Rio City Café and a variety of other eateries. And if youre
looking for "old stuff," such as books, antiques and historical memorabilia,
these are readily found at the Bookmine, Hammons Archives and
Sacramento is home to the largest concentration of preserved commercial
structures in California. It is home to the California Railroad Museum
(considered one of the world's finest railroad museums),
first permanent live theater venue, the Eagle Theater; and a waterfront
with elements of a riverside scene from the 1870s -- complete with
paddle wheel and sailing vessels.
For those who prefer not to venture out on holiday
weekends, Old Sacramento is a great place to visit any time of the year.
How to get there
Old Sacramento is located downtown and is bordered by Interstate 5, Capitol Mall and the
Sacramento River. Take the J Street exit off I-5.
Rush Days is produced by the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau,
which can be contacted by calling (916) 264-7777, or by visiting
Convention & Visitors Bureau.