In the shadow of Sutter’s Fort sits the small but lovely California State Indian Museum. The museum was created in 1940 and tells the story of many of the Indian tribes of California. It highlights more than 60 indigenous groups who lived in our great state long before Mr. Sutter brought his Fort to the area and long before the Gold Rush encouraged waves of people to come out West.
Highlights of the museum are an impressive grouping of baskets, an 18 foot Yurok Redwood Canoe, a large number of beautiful photographs of Indigenous peoples in native outfits during dances or traditional activities, and detailed handmade clothing.
The relationship between California and the local Indian tribes has been a complicated one over time. Disease brought by Europeans, forced movement, slaughter, and destruction of the local environment have changed the face of indigenous people forever. This museum tells the story of California Indian heritage through physical items, clothing, photographs, landscaping, local events, and music and dance. It is a lovely reminder of the pride and history of the first Californians. I only wish the museum were bigger and housed even more beautiful artifacts because I know there is much more to see.
Take note of the feathers weaved in to the spectacular smaller baskets.
This thing is HUGE and must weigh an enormous amount.
Not sure what these berries are. I can’t say I ever remember seeing them in the area but they were beautiful.
The little one and I got out of the house recently and visited the Sacramento landmark of Sutter’s Fort. This adobe fort was built in 1840, early in Sacramento’s history, for the purposes of trade by John Sutter with the coerced permission of the local Nisenan Indians and randomly with the help of Hawaiian laborers. Sutter was granted Mexican citizenship in 1840 and the Land Grant for the area in exchange for keeping local Indian tribes “in order.” It was closed shortly after gold was discovered in Coloma sparking the 49r Gold Rush.
The fort has been lovingly restored and the California State Parks service does a great job displaying the period with detailed rooms depicting each of the trades and functions of the fort; Carpenter shop, Millstone, Gunsmith, Blacksmith, Guard Room, Kitchen, Bakery, and Weaving Rooms. The Fort sits on a beautifully maintained garden neighboring the California State Indian Museum.
It has always amazed me that my fellow Sacramentans restored, saved, and preserved this special spot because it is surrounded by period houses, hospital high rises, vibrant bars, all in the heart of downtown Sacramento. It is prime real estate as they say.
Local Girl Scout Groups dress up in period costume for their visit. (I remember doing that not so many years ago!)
Auburn is another fine Gold Country town near Sacramento, California. Auburn is known for its mining and mandarins. But, for those looking for something random and unusual look no farther than Dr. Fox’s Colossal Statues.
One giant Gold Miner can be seen from the freeway welcoming visitors and passersby. This gold minor embodies the Gold Rush and is the unofficial mascot of the town.
Stranger and slightly more controversial are the naked Amazonian women and their friend in bondage who sit and protect a local auto mechanic’s shop.
I remember driving by these tall muses on my way to a yoga class one day and nearly drove off the road. One just doesn’t expect to see something like this in the middle of an old fashioned gold country town. And from what I understand they were quite controversial at one time.
When I was a kid my Grandfather had a decoration he hung on the wall with various kinds and shapes of Barbed Wire affixed to it. I was always interested and had a veiled respect for this display because it could hurt me if I touched it and it also seemed strange that a man would display what seemed like garbage on the wall. Well, now that I am a little older and realize that the barbed wire isn’t going to jump off the display and cut me I find it a fascinating thing to photograph. I ran across some while I took my little Gold Country drive the other day. I hope you enjoy the different perspective and the good excuse to use my macro lens.
Mokelumne Hill, California is an example of a small remote gold town that is still transitioning and finding its 21st century self. While it does so I enjoyed the heck out of exploring its main street and the details of all its strange and wonderful architecture. I have driven through this town hundreds of times. My parents used to love doing the exact same thing taking us kids for a drive through the gold country. This is the first time I got out with my camera and focused on the details. I probably got a few strange looks from people drinking in the local bar but they shrugged their shoulders and went about their business.
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My husband and I set out for another great day drive through the gold country. As some of you may know gold was discovered in 1848 by James Marshal at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento,California in a beautiful place called Coloma. This discovery set off what was later to be coined the California Gold Rush. Tons of people came west with their sites set on riches. In order to support these folks many “gold towns” sprouted up. It’s always fun to me to go through and visit these towns observing how they have changed over the years. Some are quickly on their way to obscurity while others are being revitalized by wineries, antique shops, coffee houses, and restaurants. I have mixed emotions about the revitalization changes ultimately deciding it is for the best.
Join me on a tour of Columbia, a preserved gold town turned state park.
It’s a door!
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