Sacramento, CA 95816
WELCOME to Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
Sutter's Fort State Historic Park is a state-protected park in
Sacramento, California which includes Sutter's Fort and the
California State Indian Museum.
Begun in 1839 and originally called "New Helvetia" (New
Switzerland) by its builder, John Sutter, the fort was a 19th
century agricultural and trade colony in California.
The fort was the first non-American Indian community in the
California Central Valley. The fort is famous for its association
with the Donner Party, the California Gold Rush and the formation of
It is notable for it's proximity to the end of the California
Trail and Siskiyou Trails for which it served as a way station.
After gold was discovered at Sutters Mill (also owned by Sutter)
in Coloma, the fort was abandoned. The adobe structure has been
restored to its original condition and is now administered by
California State Parks, although threatened with closure. It was
designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
The compound was built near the junction of the American and
Sacramento Rivers and is located at what is now the intersection of
27th and L Streets in the Midtown neighborhood of the city of
The Main Building of the fort is a two story adobe structure
built between 1841 and 1843. This building is the only original
surviving structure at the reconstructed Sutter's Fort State
It was in here on January 28, 1848 that James Marshall met
privately with Sutter in order to show Sutter the gold that Marshall
had found during the construction of Sutter's sawmill along the
American River only four days earlier.
Sutter built the original fort with walls 2.5 feet thick and 15
to 18 feet high.
Following word of the Gold Rush, the fort was largely deserted by
the 1850s and fell into disrepair.
In 1891, the Native Sons of the Golden West embarked on a
restoration of the fort, completing their repair efforts in 1893. In
1947, the fort was transferred to the authority of California State
Most of the original neighborhood structures were initially built
in the late 1930s as residences, many of which have been converted
to commercial uses such as private medical practices. The history of
the neighborhood is largely residential.
Geography and geology
Sutter's Fort is located on level ground at an elevation of
approximately 20 feet above mean sea datum. The slope elevation
decreases northward toward the American River and westward toward
the Sacramento River.
Slope elevation gradually increases to the south and east, away
from the rivers. All surface drainage flows toward the Sacramento
River. Groundwater in the vicinity flows south-southwest toward the
Sacramento Delta; however, after peak rainfall, because of a swollen
Sacramento River, the groundwater flow can actually reverse and flow
away from the river.
Special events are scheduled throughout the year.
Sutter's Fort Trade Store provides a large variety of authentic
gifts and publications relating to California history including the
Overland Trail and Gold Rush.
The store is non-profit and operated by the Sacramento
Historic Sites Association in cooperation with the California State
Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. Layered
clothing is advised.