"Fort" was built in Sacramento by Swiss immigrant John
Sutter more than 150 years ago. The distinctly Californian
experience of big dreams and bold adventures is manifested
at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park.
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 arriving in Sacramento in 1839,
he built what came to be known as Sutter's Fort - with walls
that were 2 1/2 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
seeking their fortunes. By the 1850s, all that was left of
Sutter's Fort was the central building.
The Native Sons of the Golden West
were influential in the restoration of the Fort which began
in 1891 and was completed in 1893. Donated to the State of
Fort became a part of the California State Park System
in 1947. Sutter's Fort stands as the oldest restored Fort
in the United States.