Sacramento was built by pioneers who set out to conquer the wild western frontier. The Gold Rush brought people from all over the world seeking fortune and visionaries determined to link the west to the booming eastern United States. Politicians and businessmen built the home of the California government and one of the largest economies in the world. As the state parks face economic uncertainty, this is a great time to visit one of these Sacramento landmarks and pay tribute to the men and women who helped shape the Sacramento region.

Photo Credit: California State Parks

Sutter’s Fort
State Historic Park
2701 L St
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 445-4422

Built in 1839 by Sacramento’s founder John Augustus Sutter, Sutter’s Fort was originally an agricultural and trade colony and later became a temporary refuge for travelers. When James Marshall struck gold in 1848 at one of Sutter’s sawmills, the fort was largely abandoned. It was later restored by the Native Sons of the Golden West and was transferred to the California State Parks in 1947. Sutter’s Fort is open year-round six days a week for self-guided or guided tours.

Leland Stanford Mansion / Credit: Karen Boruff

Leland Stanford Mansion
State Historic Park
800 N St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 324-0575

The mansion was originally built in 1856 by Sheldon Fogus but was later bought by Leland and Jane Stanford. The mansion served as the official governor’s mansion for three governors: Leland Stanford, Frederick Low and Henry Haight. It served as a home for homeless children after Jane Stanford donated the building to the Catholic Diocese. The mansion became a state historic park and a historical landmark when the Stanford Home for Children relocated in 1987. The Stanford Mansion has been fully restored and is open to the public five days a week. It is also the official reception center for diplomats and other important visitors.

B.F. Hastings Building / Credit: Karen Boruff

B.F. Hastings Building

1000 2nd St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 440-4263

Located in Old Sacramento, the B.F. Hastings Building was originally bought and constructed by Benjamin Franklin Hastings in 1853. Early occupants included Wells Fargo & Company and the Pony Express. Theodore Judah, who played a critical role in the development of Sacramento, leased office space on the second floor where he engineered the Sacramento Valley and Central Pacific Railroads. From 1855-1869, the California Supreme Court resided in the building. The B.F. Hastings Building now houses the Wells Fargo History Museum and is open daily to visitors.

Related: Guide To Old Sacramento Historic State Park

Crocker Art Museum/ Credit: Karen Boruff

Crocker Art Museum
216 O St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 808-7000

The Crocker Art museum is the longest running art museum in the West. The museum was founded by the Crocker’s – a prominent Sacramento family that included “Big Four” railroad investor Charles Crocker – and houses works from statehood to present day. Much of the collection was assembled by Judge E.B. and Margaret Crocker, who presented the museum to the city in 1885. The original building was the family’s mansion and is a California Historical Landmark. In 2010, the 125,000-square-foot Teel Family Pavilion opened adjacent to the historic structures. In addition to works of art from all over the world, personal belongings of the Crocker family are on display including photographs, furniture and jewelry.

Related: Best Places For Women’s History In Sacramento

Huntington, Hopkins & Company Hardware/ credit: Karen Boruff

Huntington, Hopkins & Company Hardware Store
113 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-7234

In 1855, Mark Hopkins, Jr. and Collis P. Huntington joined together to form Huntington, Hopkins & Company and opened a hardware store in Sacramento. The businessmen later became two of “The Big Four” that developed the Central Pacific Railroad and played an important role in the formation of Sacramento. Located in the historic Big Four Building in Old Sacramento, the replica hardware store sells items common to the Gold Rush era such as cast-iron cookware and oil lamps. In the back is an exhibit of 19th-century tools and machinery.

(Credit: Daderot / Flicker)
The Dining Room has moldings of fruit, vegetables, fish and chickens. Originally painted in their natural colors, Gov. George Pardee’s wife had them painted white; and later, Gov. Hiram Johnson’s wife had everything painted gray.

California Governor’s Mansion
State Historic Park
1526 H St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-3047 Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park was built in 1877 for Albert Gallatin, a partner in the Huntington, Hopkins & Company store. It was purchased by the State of California in 1903 to serve as the official residence for the state’s first families. Governor George Pardee was the first to live in the mansion, followed by 12 other governors and their families. The Victorian-era building remains largely as it did when the Reagans left in 1967. Later governors chose to live elsewhere and the mansion is now used for public and state ceremonies and events. The Governor’s Mansion is open to the public for guided tours only and there is a small gift shop located in the carriage house.

Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at