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Gold created Sacramento. The city began at the Sacramento riverfront, as a shantytown hastily fabricated by wily merchants intent on capturing the commerce of would-be miners as they debarked from boats coming upriver from San Francisco. Soon it boasted numerous saloons, vibrant theater, and more substantial business and residential structures.

The town boomed, despite serious setbacks: several ruinous floods, two devastating cholera epidemics, two major fires, and a squatter’s riot that left the mayor maimed and several others dead, including the sheriff. Yet even all this couldn’t keep the city down. After each disaster, Sacramento rebuilt and continued to prosper as an outfitter to the outlying gold mines; a center of bustling river transport and the largest stagecoach operation in the nation.


Sacramento became the state capital in 1854. It was the western terminus of the glamorous, dashing Pony Express, and the starting point of the first transcontinental railroad. Discover the diversity of Sacramento’s heritage and development, from agriculture, industry, and state fairs to Prohibition and historic preservation.  

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