The "Fort" built by Swiss immigrant John Sutter more than 150 years ago was not only located at a pivotal point in California. It was a pivotal point in history. This combination of big dreams, bold adventures, and reality all manifest themselves at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and help bring California history to life.
John Augustus Sutter was born in Europe to Swiss-German parents in 1803. After several financial reverses, like millions of others in Europe during the time, Sutter set out to make his fortune in America. After a series of adventures that ranged from Missouri and Santa Fe to Hawaii and Alaska, Sutter finally made it to California and arrived in Sacramento in the late fall of 1839.
In Sacramento, he built what came to be known as Sutter’s Fort–with walls that were 2.5 feet thick and 15 to 18 feet high–and developed what he considered to be the real wealth of California–crops such as grapes and wheat, along with vast herds of cattle. Aligning himself with the Mexican authorities, at one point, with his various land grants, Sutter owned more than 150,000 acres of the Central Valley, and was a generous host to such colorful and historically important characters as John C. Fremont and Kit Carson.
In 1848, James Marshall, a carpenter working for Sutter, discovered gold at the sawmill Sutter was having built in Coloma, on the American River. Before the mill could be finished, word of the discovery was out. Sutter’s workers deserted the Fort for the goldfields s
Mar 28, 2020
Dec 14, 2019