Sacramento and the Mountains


The second full day of our vacation, we decided to go see Fort Sutter in the middle of town. Fort Sutter was established in 1839, as a part of a land grant to John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant who used his land grant to set up an agricultural empire, called New Helvetia (New Switzerland). Sutter became well known as a generous person when he provided aid to the trapped Donner Party in 1847, and as a result, his Fort because the Motel 6 for travelers on the early pioneer route. Eventually, the properties were overrun by gold seekers and Sutter was driven out – the Fort is all that remains. It was restored to its 1847 status based on maps found in Germany. We wandered around the Fort, but we didn’t take the tour. It has the feel of a children’s pioneer exhibit – with lots of people wandering around in costume, showing visitor’s how to make candles or create iron horseshoes. Educational, but just not what we were into that day.

The Crocker Museum is near Fort Sutter, so we went there next.  The Crocker is a fine arts museum (the traditional kind, not modern art), and if you have never been there, go. The Crocker Art Gallery was the brainchild of Judge E.B. and Margaret Crocker, who bought the property in 1868 and commissioned an architect to build them a mansion and an art gallery to house their growing art collection. The Italianate style mansion and attached gallery buildings were completed in 1872. The Crocker’s had amassed a collection of art from their tours of Europe between 1869 and 1871, which included Dutch, Flemish and Baroque paintings and drawings. Margaret Crocker donated the art gallery in 1885, and since that time, the collections have grown to include American art, ceramics, Asian art, and pretty much every style you ever learned about in your History of Art class. The place was huge, and apparently now that a 2010 expansion is complete, the Crocker is now 3 times larger. I want to go back and see how much more of their collection they have on display. At any rate, when you go upstairs, they have a gallery room that is floor to ceiling paintings. I imagine they have the most valuable paintings at eye level, but Jon and I had a wonderful time just staring up at the wall and trying to pick out our favorites. That’s hard to do when the walls in that room were covered with at least 100 paintings.

The Crocker wrapped up our visit to Sacramento, and we headed back up to the mountains to make a visit to Grass Valley and Nevada City. We found a little diner called the Classic Cafe to have a late lunch in, and really enjoyed our burgers.  If you have seen the Hallmark Movie “The Christmas Card”, you have seen the Classic Cafe.

The Owners Home at the Empire Mine

Next up on the agenda after my need for food was satisfied was the Empire Mine. The Empire Mine was an extremely elaborate mining operations, with tunnels radiating outwards and downwards under the earth for several miles. At the mine’s Visitor Center, they have a map showing all the mine shafts, and showing which ones are currently filled with water. Apparently this is the major problem with the mine – the groundwater eventually began seeping back into the tunnels.

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