In 1839, Swiss immigrant John Augustus Sutter received a huge land grant from the Mexican government in this area. He built his fort in Sacramento, when it was a tiny frontier settlement. For a time, he had a vast farming operation. In 1848, at his watermill in Coloma, gold was discovered. Soon, the word was out. During the ensuing Gold Rush, squatters stole most of Sutter's land. This old fort is all that remains of his once-thriving empire.
While visiting the fort, be sure to see the State Indian Museum nearby. A replica of John Sutter's mill still stands at Coloma, up in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
This is the nucleus of the original Mexican-era settlement at Sacramento founded in 1839 by Swiss settler John Sutter. It is quite large, with substantial walls, blockhouses, and numerous shops, rooms, etc., inside. They also have demonstrations of artillery, musketry, flour milling, medical care, and more.
Its place in history secured by its role several events. It was here that people heard word of the Donner Party disaster. More importantly, Sutter and his partner, James Marshall, built a mill at Sutter's Mill near Coloma to the NE in order to provide lumber to ship to San Francisco and elsewhere. At the mill, Marshall found gold, setting off the Gold Rush that turned California into what it is now, made a boomtown out of Sacramento, San Francisco, Stockton, and numerous other places, and led to the ruin of Sutter's grand plans for leading, and profiting from, settlement of the region. During the Gold Rush, Sutter's son in coordination with several other settlers founded the city of Sacramento just to the west of the fort.
Visit the State Indian Museum, located next to Sutter's Fort. It depicts aspects of California's American Indian cultures with displays of feather baskets, jewelry, clothing and art.
Sutter's Fort was the first European outpost in the California interior. The adobe fort has relics of pioneer and gold rush days. Exhibits depicts life in the fort in the 1800's.
John Sutter was a Swiss Citizen who moved to the US in 1834. He set up a colony in what became Sacramento and called his colony 'New Helvetia'.