Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Sacramento Undergound Tour

I did the Old Sacramento Underground Tour led by the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation on Saturday, August 21.  In the early 1980s, I took an archeology course that dug underneath the the concrete slab of a building in Old Sac.  It was fascinating to find numerous artifacts buried at this site and to handle something that hadn't been seen in over 100 years.  Needless to say, when I learned about this tour, I was excited about it.
1930s era photo show passages under sidewalk

I bought the tickets online.  While I could have purchased them at the door, they often sell out early on the weekends and I wanted to guarantee our spots on the tour.  I found the cost a bit high.  $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6-17.  When you buy them online you are charged a "convenience fee" of $2.25 for each ticket.  A family of four will pay $59.00 for a 55 minute tour.  The price did not include admission to the museum, which is $3.00 each.  New total price $71.00.  The museum is a worthwhile add-on.  We only had a half hour to check out the place before it closed, 45 to 60 minutes would have been better.   You must also include the cost of parking, which will run another five to ten bucks depending on how long you spend in Old Town.  The museum sells a very nice 30 page "Official Souvenir Guide" about the tour for an additional $14.95, which I bought. So, a family of four could spend $95 for a two-hour history review of Sacramento. 

The helmeted tour group head to the Eagle Theater in Old Sac.
We met at the Sacramento History Museum.  The twenty tour participants were given green hardhats and a headset with a radio receiver that is worn around the neck.  The headset did not give any prerecorded information, but was used exclusively to amplify the tour guide's voice.  This worked well, and I am sure puts less strain on the vocal cords of the guide.  From the museum we walked to the Eagle Theater and watched a video that provided background information.  Basically, after particularly devastating flood in 1862, it was decided that the city would be raised an average of 9 1/2 feet.  The tour highlights the subterranean spaces below the sidewalks.  According to the tour guide there never was a network of connected tunnels, because tunnels crossing the streets were never built, as the cost for raising each building was the responsibility of the individual owners.

I enjoyed the tour and I thought the guide was was energetic. I also learned some things.  I would recommend it to others interested in Sacramento's history...if you are prepared to pay for it. 
An old archeology pit under a building
Tour guide demonstrates house jack.

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