No, you're not caught in a time travel
western novel, nor are you reading one.
These scenes really took place in 1998 in Old Sacramento,
Calif., over Labor Day weekend.
According to Ed Astonel, manager of the Old Sacramento
district, it was the first time the City of Sacramento held a multi-day festival which was
based on its local history.
So the planners went whole hog, to use the vernacular.
Gold is king
Exhibits in the California State Railroad Museum and other indoor exhibits
focusing on gold mining gave crowds a respite from the hot, humid weather. But the real
fun came with the "living" history exhibits stagecoaches and the Calvary
parading the streets, as well as a miner's tent city that revealed the unglamorous
lifestyle endured by the '49ers and their families.
There were 300 living history characters who helped
history come alive, bringing with them 80 horse-drawn conveyances to tromp through the
several streets covered with 25 tons of decomposed granite (and looking an awful lot like
dirt). In addition, 25 period sets featured exhibits based on occupations such as saddle
maker, assayer, barber and a hides trader, among others.
To create the illusion that it really was 150 years ago,
parking signs were covered with U.S. flags and haybales hid painted curbs.
While the Gold Rush Balladeers sung "Ill Strike
it Rich Someday," fortune tellers and gypsies foretold prosperous futures. Meanwhile,
trials, temperance rallies and shotgun weddings were carried on in the "Stinking
All the amenities
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 Closet Antiques. Arts
and crafts galleries, stores selling gold nugget jewelry, leather, kites, candy and old
time photos are also prevalent.
The event was a great hit and for those who missed
it, you still have the chance next Labor Day to step into your time machine (or your car)
for the Third Great Gold Rush.
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.