For some locals, it might be difficult to imagine a full-fledged brewery operating in the Land Park area. But long before there were such destination places as William Land Park and the Sacramento Zoo, this then-rural area was home to the Sutterville Brewery.
This brewery, which was established just south of today’s zoo in a two-story, brick building with a basement in 1861, was originally owned by the Prussia-born Martin P. Arenz (1826-1949).
The brewery structure, which was constructed 160 years ago in what was then the town of Sutterville, was initially occupied by a grocery store owned Robert H. Vance of San Francisco.
Arenz purchased both the building and its property from Vance for $1,500 in August 1861.
According to The Sacramento Union, in its June 15, 1872 edition, the brewery building measured 62 feet by 62 feet and stood on a 160-foot by 180-foot lot.
Among the improvements made to the premises during Arenz’s ownership of the brewery was an addition of a new roof.
On May 28, 1867, the Sutterville Brewery was among several local breweries that had their lager beer delivery wagons seized by revenue officers during their deliveries.
According to the following day’s edition of The Union, it was charged that these breweries “did not properly cancel the stamps in the manner required by the revenue law, but so contrived matters as to make one (revenue) stamp answer the purpose of many, thereby depriving Uncle Sam of his just and lawful dues.”
Arenz remained the brewery’s proprietor until September 1868, when he sold the business to Patrick H. Lyman for about $8,000.
A biography regarding Captain Frank Ruhstaller in the 1890 book, “An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California,” recognizes Ruhstaller and Joseph Bechler as having owned interests in the brewery.
And in following the sequence of events presented in the book, Ruhstaller purchased an interest in the brewery in mid-October 1869.
The book also notes that Ruhstaller “was in a partnership there (at the Sutterville Brewery) with Bechler for seven or eight months.”
Another biography about Ruhstaller in the 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” mentions the following: “(Ruhstaller) bought an interest in the Sutterville Brewery, where he carried on a partnership with Joseph Bechler for seven months until the high water forced all work to cease.”
Both biographies mention that Ruhstaller continued working with local breweries before returning to his Swiss homeland for a short period of time in 1873.
No other historic accounts regarding Ruhstaller and Bechler holding interests in the Sutterville Brewery were discovered during research for this article, and there is no firm indication, based on research for this article, that Lyman was not involved in the ownership of the business from 1868 until the sale of the business in 1873.
A fire occurred at the brewery on Jan. 27, 1871. Flames were spotted on the roof of the drying room in the malt house.
The Union, in its Jan. 30, 1871 edition, noted: “Part of the Sutterville Brewery was discovered on fire, but which, by dint of strenuous efforts of the proprietor, Patrick Lyman, and his neighbors, was extinguished before much damage had occurred.”
In 1873, Fritz Futterer and Nicholas “Nick” Thielen became the new proprietors of the brewery.
In regard to this new ownership, The Union, on July 12, 1873, ran the following advertisement: “READ THIS! SUTTERVILLE BREWERY. This well-known brewery was purchased a few months ago by the undersigned, two experienced German brewers, and many improvements added thereto, and they are now able to supply the old customers, as well as new ones, and their friends generally, with the very best of beer in this market, in quantities to suit. THIELEN & FUTTERER.”
This partnership continued until February 1877, when Futterer sold his interest in the brewery to Thielen.
But well before this business change, half of the ownership of the brewery was offered for sale through an advertisement in editions of The Union in April and May 1876.
In part, the advertisement read: “One-half interest in the SUTTERVILLE BREWERY, finely improved and a well established business. Will be sold cheap. For full information, inquire of NICK THIELEN.”
Various non-brewery meetings were held at the brewery, including an April 25, 1878 meeting of residents of Swamp Land District No. 1. The purpose of the meeting was to make nominations for levee commissioner.
In being that a portion of Sacramento, including part of that district, experienced a major flood in 1878, several other very timely, levee-related meetings were held at the brewery around that time.
The 1880 book, History of Sacramento County, California, refers to the brewery, as follows: “This brewery is eighty-two feet long by forty-two feet wide (which are different dimensions than those given in the aforementioned 1872 Union article); employs four men, and has a capacity of fifteen barrels per day. Nicholas Thielen is the proprietor.”
The Union, in its Oct. 17, 1883 edition, reported the following: “Saturday evening (Oct. 13, 1883), a large party of ladies and gentlemen from Sacramento gave a surprise party to Nicholas Thielen, proprietor of the Sutterville Brewery. They were finely entertained. There was dancing and feasting until near morning.”
The operation of the Sutterville Brewery was only about a 22-year venture.
From Nov. 12 through Dec. 31, 1883, The Union ran the following advertisement: “FOR SALE – ON ACCOUNT OF THE removal of the brewery business of the Sutterville Brewery, the buildings and property of same are offered for sale on reasonable terms. Inquire of N. THIELEN, proprietor, or of CADWALADER & PARSONS.”
Nearly four months later, The Union, reported details regarding an auction, as follows: “REAL ESTATE AT AUCTION – Bell & Co. will sell at auction Tuesday, March 18, (1884), on the premises, at 11 a.m., the property of N. Thielen, known as the Sutterville Brewery, and about five acres of good land connected therewith. It includes the brick and frame buildings, barns, sheds, windmill, pump, tank with capacity of 4,500 gallons; underground pipes connecting with frame and brick buildings; large lot of fruit trees and shrubbery, etc. Sale positive. Terms, 10 percent on day of sale; balance when deed is made. Buildings open for inspection until the day of sale.”
The brewery auction, which The Union noted “should receive more than ordinary attention,” was postponed until the following Saturday.
However, for some reason, the auction did not occur until July 19, 1884, when Sheriff Alfred H. Estell sold at auction the brewery property and its buildings to the Germania Building and Loan Association of 1011 4th St. for $2,200. The brewery’s machinery was not included in the sale.
A grand opening for a new business, the Sutterville Garden, owned by William Emerson at the old brewery site, was held on Saturday evening, July 14, 1884. The event, which was free to the public, included music and dancing.
The property changed hands once again in 1890 and was reopened as the Mount View House. Owned by J. P. Melchior, who had previously owned a saloon at the southeast corner of 10th and S streets at the present day site of the Old Ironsides bar, the business advertised itself as featuring “the finest wines, liquors and cigars.”
In the Jan. 27, 1899 edition of The Union, it was noted that George Gray, who resided on Riverside Road (today’s Riverside Boulevard) “is now proprietor of the old Sutterville Brewery on the lane between Sutterville and Freeport Road.”
The two-story, brick Sutterville Brewery building was demolished in 1952, and occupying the site today is the Land Park Business Center at 1250 Sutterville Road.
For some locals, it might be difficult to imagine a full-fledged brewery operating in the Land Park area. But long before there were such destination places as William Land Park and the Sacramento Zoo, this then-rural area was home to the Sutterville Brewery.
A sea of students – 1,056 to be precise – recently showcased the results of their year-long involvement in preparing for the National History Day state competition at the Red Lion Hotel – Woodlake Conference Center (formerly the Radisson Hotel), off Highway 160.
This year’s edition of NHD-CA was held on April 26-28 and drew a total of about 3,000 people, including students, teachers, parents and volunteers.
One hundred and ninety schools from 21 counties participated in the state competition, and Sacramento County was represented by 94 student participants.
The annual educational program, which has most recently been sponsored by the Orange County Department of Education, is designed to encourage students to “explore local, state, national and world history.”
In discussing details about the program, NHD-CA consultant Julie Hull said, “History Day is the premier social science academic competition. The national program was recognized last year by President Obama and it received the (National Humanities Medal), so just recently it’s gained much more notoriety, because it was recognized by the White House. And it’s a year-long educational program where (4th through 12th grade) students engage in research and analysis to come up with a product.”
Every year, a new theme is selected, and this year’s theme was “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.”
Through the program, students analyze their resources, interpret their findings and draw conclusions regarding their topic’s significance in history.
The students worked on their projects individually or in groups of two to five students.
Fourth and 5th graders could make a poster, and 6th through 12th graders had a choice of making a documentary, a Web site, an exhibit or a historical paper, or participating in a performance.
Students generally begin working on their projects in June and participate in their school competitions, which are typically held around February, and county competitions, which are typically held around March.
Each year, more than a half a million students participate in the NHD program, which allows students to improve upon their critical thinking, problem-solving, research, reading, oral and written communication and presentation skills.
In speaking about the students’ participation in NHD, Hull said, “The exciting thing about this (program) is it really empowers them to think like a historian and view things in history from a different lens.”
Hull also noted that 60 percent of the students’ projects were evaluated on the quality of their research.
“It’s not just a showcase of pretty projects,” Hull said. “They’re really doing extensive research and they use libraries and archives and museums and do oral histories. Whether they win or lose, they’re doing college-level research, college-level writing, and they’re learning skills that are helping them in science and math and English and all across the curriculum. The national office did a study that showed that History Day students outperformed non-History Day students in all subject areas and in all standardized tests. So, it’s an exciting program that really feeds into teaching them the skills and the rigor required for college and careers.”
After the students presented their projects at this year’s NHD-CA event, they awaited their results. The top two projects in each category were selected to be entered into the national competition, which will be held June 9-13 at the University of Maryland.
Altogether, California will be represented in the national competition by 36 entries, 65 students and 37 teachers.
Although no representatives from Sacramento County were selected to make the trip to Maryland, Aishwarya Nadgauda, a 16-year-old sophomore at Sacramento Country Day School at 2636 Latham Drive, was recognized as the runner-up in the individual documentary category. There were 34 entrants in the state level in her category.
In discussing how she selected the topic for her 10-minute documentary, Nadgauda said, “The title of my project was ‘Setting off a Reaction that Changed the World Forever,’ and it was about the first controlled, sustained nuclear chain reaction (which occurred at the University of Chicago on Dec. 2, 1942, and led to the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb). I was trying to find a topic that fit (this year’s theme). So, I was reading this book called ‘Nuclear Weapons Pose a Grave Threat,’ and I came across all these instances where the world had come so close to a nuclear war, and it really interested me. So, I started going back from there, trying to see how was it that the world came to know about nuclear power, and kind of backpedaling from there, I came across the first controlled, sustained nuclear chain reaction.”
Nadgauda, who was participating in NHD for the fifth consecutive year, said that while seeking information related to her topic, she enjoyed the process of learning about many things that she would have otherwise never investigated.
And in commenting about her project-related trip to Rancho Seco, Nadgauda said, “Radioactivity is a major concern when it comes to nuclear power plants and (one of the plant’s decommissioning officers) showed me this chart of all the radioactivity in the area surrounding Rancho Seco, just in the soil. I would have expected that Rancho Seco had more radioactivity, but it was actually one of the least radioactive soils in the area even though there had been a nuclear power plant there at one point.”
While sharing details about her overall experience at the state competition, Nadgauda said, “What I really took away from it was just really being able to communicate. Communication skills are just really important and that’s one of the best things that I learned from this is how to analyze information and pick and choose what’s reliable and what you want to get across to the person who is watching your documentary.”
Several other students from different parts of the state participated in interviews with this publication.
Among these students were Emily Moreno, Robert Fernandez and Rhianne Esparza, who are each 17-year-old students at La Habra High School in La Habra, Calif.
Moreno, whose group was a runner-up in the “Group Web site” category, said, “History is not my favorite thing, but (the History Day program) actually made it interesting.”
One of the student participants who was in high spirits at the event was Olivia Ghosh. Along with her schoolmate, Soren Hansen, she was selected to compete in the national competition.
Ghosh, who attends Francis Park School in San Diego and participated in the national competition when she was in the eight grade, noted that her senior group exhibit was both a time-consuming and interesting project.
“We got up to (spending) six to 10 hours a week (on their project, ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’),” Ghosh said. “One of the interesting things we learned is we interviewed a man who lived in West Berlin when the wall fell. Obviously, he was excited about the fact that they were reunifying and Germany was coming together again, but he also mentioned, just from a logistical standpoint – he lived near the wall – he still thought about daily needs, like traffic and pollution and lots of every day needs.”
Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Leong of Zion Lutheran School in San Francisco was also in a joyful mood while she was speaking about an award that she had won at the state competition.
“I won a special award for county,” said Leong, who also won an excellence award for her project about the history of the Golden Gate Bridge. “The (special award recipients) are people who have done a lot and have competed in NHD for three years. So, I was lucky enough to win this award and I’m very happy about it.”
Standing alongside Leong was one of her schoolmates, 11-year-old Christie Lum, who participated in a runner-up project in the junior division.
Francis Parker students, Avi Waldman, 13, Amanda Wasserman, 12, and Ellie Hanson, 12, who were also interviewed by this publication, noted that although they did not win awards, they enjoyed their time participating in this year’s state competition.
Rob Vicario, NHD-CA state director, referred to the state competition participants as inspiring.
And while discussing the diversity and creativity of the competition’s projects, Vicario said, “We have one exhibit on the (history of) the toilet. The girls, I happened to be walking by and they were there taking questions from many folks that were visiting during the public viewing. They explained how they were inspired to look into this topic and how it became a turning point in history because of its impact on health issues, sanitation, etc. One of (the students) said, ‘I got so fascinated by the research behind this (project) that I’m now considering a career in sanitation when I get older.’”
Leslie Smith, one of the state competition judges and the history-social studies curriculum coordinator for San Bernardino County, noted that she was very impressed by those who participated in NHD competitions.
“It is amazing what these kids can accomplish,” Smith said. “(They conduct) authentic research using primary and secondary sources, personal interviews. They have no fear. They will e-mail, write, seek out congressmen, university professors to get the information that they need to improve their projects.”
Sacramento County NHA coordinator Craig Irish, who ran the state competition judging room with two other coordinators, expressed his own impressions of NHD.
“I’m amazed every year at the types of projects we see and the amount of work that is put into this competition,” Irish said. “They do a great deal of research and analyzing to put their projects together. It’s a great learning opportunity for these students.”
Next year’s NHD-CA competition will have the theme of “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”
Note: This is part 10 in a series about the history of the Sacramento River.
The topic of riverboats on the Sacramento River is undoubtedly a rich part of the river’s history.
These vessels played an important role in transporting freight and passengers.
In the January 1920 edition of the Southern Pacific Bulletin, it was noted that “long before the railroad came, the Sacramento River was the ‘roadway’ along which commerce first traveled.”
Among the earlier vessels to ply the Sacramento River was a schooner known as the “Sacramento.”
In an article in the May 27, 1858 edition of The Sacramento Union, this schooner was described as having been purchased by Capt. John A. Sutter in 1841.
A July 7, 1860 letter written to The Union by a newspaper correspondent known as St. George refers to this vessel, as follows: “The only regular packet running between the embarcadero of New Helvetia (now the beautiful city of Sacramento, capital of the state of California), and Yerba Buena (now the great city of San Francisco, the New York of the Pacific) was Captain Sutter’s launch, ‘Sacramento,’ a schooner of seventeen tons. She was built by the Russian American Company, I think, at Sitka, for the sea otter service at Bodega and Presidio Ross, and sold to Capt. Sutter in 1839. I last saw her laying (sic) at Washington (now part of West Sacramento), opposite our city, in 1858, roofed over and used as a house for salmon fishers.”
In being that the 1858 Union article and 1860 St. George letter differ as to when Sutter acquired the Sacramento, it should be recognized that this event occurred in 1841.
The 1858 Union article noted that the Sacramento remained in operation until as late as 1848-49, and “after performing a number of important offices during the (Mexican) War, was, in the spring of 1848, the first to take down to San Francisco the tidings of the gold discovery.”
It was also mentioned in the same article that the Sacramento continued to be the largest schooner on the Sacramento River “up to the period when the commerce with the mines began.”
According to St. George’s letter, Sutter also had another line, which ran from New Helvetia to his Hock Farm agricultural settlement along the Feather River. The riverboat of this line was referred to as the “‘White Pinnace’ – an open boat, rowed and poled by six nude (Indians).”
The aforementioned 1920 edition Southern Pacific Bulletin article referred to the first steamer to travel on the Sacramento River.
That vessel, which was known as the Sitka, made its way from San Francisco to today’s city of Sacramento in 1847.
Nearly four decades later, The Union received a letter, dated Feb. 6, 1885, from a Mrs. James Greyson of Sebastopol, Calif., who claimed to have been a passenger aboard the Sitka.
The letter included the following words: “In the San Francisco Call of January 24th, I see the request for the name of the first steamer that plied on the Sacramento River, and being a passenger on the occasion of the first trip, I feel myself competent to give the information desired. She was a beautiful steam yacht, bearing the name of Sitka. She was, I believe, presented by the Russian government to Captain (William Alexander) Leadsdolph (Leidesdorff, Jr.). She left San Francisco on the 15th of December 1847 and arrived at the embarcadero on the Sacramento (River) on the 24th of the same month.”
Different dates for this voyage were presented in another account of the Sitka in the St. George’s aforementioned 1860 letter.
The 1860 letter noted that the vessel left San Francisco on Nov. 28, 1847 and “arrived at New Helvetia December 4th – six days and seven hours out.”
Also included in St. George’s account were the following words: “I made the first and only trip on Captain William A. Leidesdorff’s little Russian steamer from San Francisco to New Helvetia (today’s Sacramento). She had no name, but has since been called the ‘Sitka.’
“I have the notes I took at the time to be published in (the San Francisco newspaper) The California Star. I was the Sacramento correspondent for the paper, but did not publish them, as my friend, Captain Leidesdorff, was very sensitive at that time on the subject of steamboats.
“The day after her arrival from the Sacramento (River), she was sunk by a south-easter in what is now Battery Street (in San Francisco). She was raised and hauled up with an ox team in Bush Street, above Montgomery (Street), the engine taken out, and she was made a schooner yacht, christened the ‘Rainbow,’ and ran as a packet on the Sacramento River after the discovery of gold.”
The 1890 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” also describes the Sitka, which is referred to in some 19th century and early 20th century references as the “Little Sitka.”
It was mentioned in that book that the steamboat arrived at the Port of San Francisco aboard a Russian bark from Sitka on Oct. 14, 1847.
Leidesdorff, who had been in business with the Russians at their American settlement for seven years, purchased the steamer from the Russians for his hide and tallow commerce.
The Sitka was described in the 1890 book as being “long, low and what the sailors termed very ‘crank.’”
It was also noted in the book that the weight of a person on her guards would throw one of her wheels out of service.
Various historic accounts refer to the Sitka as having made two trips in California.
According to the 1890 county history book, on Nov. 15, 1847, the Sitka left Yerba Buena Island – in the San Francisco Bay – where she had been reassembled, and took a voyage to Santa Clara, “with indifferent success.”
The book also notes that during its second trip, the Sitka, after making its way up the Sacramento River in the latter part of 1847 and arriving safely, took a long time to return to San Francisco.
This portion of the book reads: “Nearly a month elapsed, however, before her return; and in the meantime, various were the jokes and jibes ‘launch’-ed at her and on the proprietor, who nevertheless persisted that he would yet ‘make the smoke fly on the bay,’ and hand the name of his first steamboat ‘down to dexterity,’ as he pronounced the word.”
But, as previously noted, the Sitka made two trips in California before being dismantled.
Editor’s Note: This is part 10 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.
Sacramento has been known as a political city, a city of trees and many other things during a large portion of its existence. And among its greatest achievements was becoming a city of breweries, which included the Buffalo Brewing Company.
In the previous article of this series, Philip Scheld, who was interred at East Lawn Cemetery (today’s East Lawn Memorial Park), was celebrated for his proprietorship of the Sacramento Brewery, which was established a short distance from Sutter’s Fort in 1849.
Many other breweries were opened in the capital city during the 19th century.
An example of the production of local breweries during the 19th century was recorded in the county assessment books for 1872.
This source notes that in that year, Sacramento had eight breweries that produced 252,000 gallons of beer.
Furthermore, according to the 1880 book, “The History of Sacramento County, California,” the area’s eight local breweries in 1878 “made, in aggregate, 530,200 gallons of beer, and in 1879, 560,000 (gallons of beer).”
With a walk around East Lawn Memorial Park, one can find the final resting places of several men who were associated with the Buffalo Brewing Company, which was also known as the Buffalo Brewery, and was for many years under the direction of Buffalo Brewery, Inc.
Certainly the most notable of these brewery men were the German-born Herman H. Grau (1846-1915) and William E. Gerber (1852-1928), who were both interred at East Lawn Cemetery.
Herman, a former East Coast brewer who came to Sacramento from Buffalo, N.Y. in about 1886, was the man who organized the Buffalo Brewery, which would eventually become the largest brewery west of the Mississippi.
At the age of 12, Herman came to America and settled in Buffalo, N.Y.
Along with his wife, New York native J.F. Bertha (Ziegele) Grau (1848-1915), who he married in Buffalo prior to coming to Sacramento, Herman had nine children.
Herman’s association with William became an important part of the city’s brewery history, as these men laid out the plans for the Buffalo Brewery.
In addition to his involvement with the Buffalo Brewery, William, a New York native who came to Sacramento in 1860 and was eventually the secretary of the Buffalo Brewery, served, at different times during his life, as president of the California National Bank and chairman of that bank’s board.
William, who studied in Sacramento schools and the St. Louis Academy and at a business school in Buffalo, was also, at a various times, a bookkeeper and co-owner of a grocery store, state fish and game commissioner, auditor of Sacramento County and the city treasurer of Sacramento.
Also interred at the cemetery was Hattie A. Gerber (1857-1928), who was the mother of his five children.
Construction on the Buffalo Brewery, which was located on the block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Q and R streets, began in 1888.
In being that this section of Sacramento was many years away from being built out at that time, upon its completion, the large brewery structure could be seen from a considerable distance within the city.
With the opening of the Buffalo Brewery in 1890, Herman became the company’s first general manager and Adolph Heilbron (1833-1913) served as the brewery’s first president. Heilbron’s final resting place is located at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery at 1000 Broadway.
Also interred at East Lawn were Henry Gerber (1851-1928), one of the brewery’s first stockholders, and Henry I. Seymour (1861-1913).
Seymour was among the prominent men of the brewery, as he replaced Grau as the company’s general manager in 1896 and continued to serve in that role for 17 years.
But Seymour was not new to the brewery when he became its general manager, as he had been working for the brewery since 1890.
Another well-known person in local brewery history was Sacramento native Frank J. Ruhstaller (1872-1943), whose father was Swiss native Frank Ruhstaller (1846-1907), who was an original officer of the Buffalo Brewery.
The brewery resume of Frank Ruhstaller, who was interred at today’s Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, also included serving as the proprietor of the City Brewery at the northeast corner of 12th and H streets and the superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co.
As for the resume of Frank J. Ruhstaller, he became the president of the Buffalo Brewery in 1913, following the death of Heilbron. He retired from that position in April 1939.
Additionally, the younger Ruhstaller served as the assistant manager of the City Brewery and superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co., and was a member of the city’s war rationing board during World War II.
In speaking about Frank J. Ruhstaller during his retirement dinner at the old Elks Temple at 11th and J streets, Superior Court Judge Peter J. Shields said, “Charities, kindnesses and justices have characterized his whole existence. The aroma of good deeds during his life has perfumed the entire community. He has been modest, never seeking the limelight nor the vanities of life.”
Frank J. Ruhstaller’s wife, Alice Marie (Root) Ruhstaller (1871-1969), was also interred at East Lawn. The couple, who was married in Sacramento on Nov. 22, 1899, was residents of East Sacramento, residing in the Fabulous Forties neighborhood at 1301 44th St.
Much has been said and written about the Buffalo Brewery, which created beer that was popular well beyond Sacramento.
During its pre-Prohibition days, the Buffalo Brewery distributed its beer great distances.
In addition to shipping this beverage to many parts of Northern California, including San Francisco, the brewery also sent its beer to the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Central America, along the Mediterranean, Russia, Japan and China.
A summary about the brewery in the Feb. 2, 1907 edition of The Union included the following words: “Sacramento boasts of many large manufacturing enterprises, but none are more in keeping with the general progress of this section than (the Buffalo Brewery). It is known by the excellence of its product. New Brew and Bohemian, its special brands, are known throughout the Pacific Coast. Ask any dealer and he will tell you there are none superior to them.”
The brewery, which experienced much physical growth at its local plant, returned to full, post-Prohibition production in December 1933 and continued its operations at its historic site until 1949.
The brewery buildings were razed in 1949 and 1950 in preparation for the construction of the newspaper, radio and television operations of McClatchy Newspapers – publishers of The Sacramento Bee – which was then headed by its president, Eleanor McClatchy.
Many Carmichael residents are undoubtedly familiar with “The Great Wall of Carmichael,” with its colorful, 100-foot-long mural, which sits near a portion of the Fair Oaks Boulevard side of Carmichael Park.
But a far greater number of these people are unaware of many details about the wall and its artwork.
In an interview with this publication last week, 71-year-old Fair Oaks resident Hugh Gorman, the artist who painted this notable mural, explained details about this wall and other highlights of his life.
In reflecting upon being hired to create the Carmichael Park mural, which was officially dedicated in 2003, Hugh said, “There was an ad in the paper, (which read): ‘Wanted: Mural design for SMAC – Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.’ I applied for it, and it was to be a retaining wall in front of Denny’s (restaurant), which is where Fair Oaks (Boulevard) T’s into Manzanita (Avenue) and Fair Oaks (Boulevard). So, I really wanted that job. I’d already done this mural here (at the Fair Oaks Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Village Park in Fair Oaks) and I’d done some other murals. I like trying to explain a community on a wall. So, I tried really hard to get (the job), and I did. And I guess there were 13 people who applied.”
Although he was excited to begin his mural project in front of Denny’s, Hugh recalled how his work at that site was suddenly halted.
Hugh said that he received a call from the locally renowned developer George Tsakopoulos (1927-2009), who told him that he did not want a mural in front of his property, which is presently owned by Carmichael Village, LLC.
Following this phone call, Tsakopoulos, Hugh noted, took further action with the matter, and the project was eventually abandoned at that site.
In the process of attempting to relocate the project, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, according to the recollections of Hugh, agreed to keep the project moving forward at a new site.
Hugh noted that, with its delays, the project took five years to complete. But he added that he was required to finish the wall in one season.
And overall, he remembers the project as being 90 to 95 percent well received by the community.
After the mural was completed at the park in 2002, a dedication for the wall was held that year. A much better attended, second dedication was held in non-rainy weather during the following spring.
After being asked to describe the details of his mural, Hugh said, “I tried to do the period of human existence, which is probably 10,000 years, more or less. And I tried to do that from the American River, because I think Carmichael has forgotten it even has the American River as one of its boundaries.”
The largest detail of the entire mural at Carmichael Park is the word, “Carmichael,” which stretches across the upper, mid-section of this grand artwork.
This bas-relief mural, which was created with an acrylic polymer on formed concrete, is divided into five panels, with the first panel showing the flow of the river as it makes its way toward the San Francisco Bay.
In continuing his explanation of the mural, Hugh said, “It’s all about how do you paint something 100 feet long and 7 feet high and not have it look like a big old line. (Avoiding making the mural appear as a straight line) was the best part about what I did, I think, or one of the best things.”
And in speaking further about the mural, Hugh said, “This is that (pedestrian and bicycle) bridge at (River Bend) Park. And we’re going through time, and if you look at the people in the rafts, you’ll see this is earlier and this is later. And that’s me. I’m in there in an inner tube with a beer bottle tied to a string. And you’ll see that everybody (in the rafts) is white at first and then pretty soon, they start sprinkling different colors as the population changes.”
And while pointing to different areas of the mural, Hugh said, “Here’s the Indians right here, and even right here. And here’s the Gold Rush right here. Well, here’s a Jeep from 1945 that marks the end of World War II. And right here are people fishing for salmon, and the way they used to fish for salmon was they just used a pitch fork. And then here you’ll see a family sitting around and the kids playing in the water. They’ve got their little picnic out. And then you go over to the Indian times, and there they are. There are families sitting around and the kids are playing in the water. So, nothing has changed, except for the color of their skin.”
Images of animals, including fish and turtles, are also present in the mural.
Although the area’s well-known Deterding family had permission to use dredgers, they never did dredge the river.
In commenting about the image of a dredger in that area of his mural, Hugh said, “I put it in anyway, because it’s such a part of our history, but from the other side of the river.”
Another feature of the mural, which Hugh spoke about was an image of a historic river vessel.
“I was reading about all these different things and I read about this boat, called the Dixie, which ran the river from Folsom and back (during the 19th century),” Hugh said. “It would go up to the Negro Bar and bring rocks and wood back.”
A feature of the wall that often goes unnoticed is a heart-shaped rock that sits on top of the wall.
Hugh said that he found the rock in his backyard while he was building his art studio.
“Phil Evans, whose a sculptor, drilled holes (in the rock) for me and put (metal) rods in there and then I just set it in the concrete (to secure it),” Hugh said.
Because the Sacramento County Historical Society thought so highly about Hugh’s mural at Carmichael Park, the organization created a new award category, called “Heritage through Art,” and awarded him the first award in that category.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Hugh’s studio can view his variety of paintings.
One of these paintings is of Ishi, who was the last surviving member of the Yahi Native American tribe. Hugh refers to this painting as “My Mona Lisa.”
During his interview for this article, Hugh also mentioned Donor Plaza, the area near the Fair Oaks Bridge that he designed in commemoration of those who contributed to the project to purchase bluffs over the American River.
“That land was being threatened to be taken over, so I had been fighting that for a long time, this way and that way,” Hugh said. “Eventually, it turned into, ‘Let’s just buy those lots and then the deal is done. And that’s what happened. I designed a thing that included three benches, and we used bricks for steps. We had 350 bricks. So, that’s an environmental art piece that’s well worth looking at, and it’s real neat.”
He also noted that he enjoys carving artistic creations, playing a keyboard, swinging on his backyard rope swing, swimming in cold water in various places in California and collecting vintage automobiles.
Hugh, who was born in St. Helena, Calif. and was one of the five children of Clyde and Grace Gorman, said that he developed a very early interest in art.
“As a little kid, they gave me clay and building blocks and I’d make little faces out of the clay,” said Hugh, who moved to Folsom in 1945 and to the area around today’s American River College in 1946. “I sort of knew how to draw real early on. Everybody always said, ‘Oh, you’re so luck, because you know what you’re going to do. You’re going to be an artist.’ And that was implanted early on, and people hired me to do portraits at 6, 7 years old. Some people are born with different things and I was born as (an artist). My dad was a writer, so he was a creative guy.”
Hugh, who attended elementary school in Carmichael, later took art classes at the old La Sierra High School before making his way to the University of California, Berkeley.
In deciding upon a career choice, Hugh initially began studying architecture in college, then he opted to become a sculptor, and lastly, he studied landscape architecture.
Despite receiving his degree at UC Berkeley in landscape architecture in 1967, Hugh said that he still always saw himself as a painter.
He began his post-college working years as a landscape architect in Santa Barbara.
Today, Hugh resides in a century-old house in Fair Oaks with his wife, Teri.
In explaining his passion for art, Hugh said, “Basically, you’ve got a story to tell. You’ve got something that you think is going to make the world a better place or at least make some understanding or describe what’s beautiful here that maybe you don’t know about. Whatever your point is, you’re telling a story. I’m self driven pretty much. My imagination works real quick.”
And in demonstrating his sense of humor at the end of the interview, Hugh, after being asked how he would like to be remembered in the future, responded, “Well, what’s the difference?”
Editor’s Note: This is part nine in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.
Among Sacramento’s identity during its earlier years was undoubtedly its position as a brewery city. And with a recent review of the records of East Lawn Memorial Park, the remains of at least seven high level local brewery men are interred at this East Sacramento cemetery.
Among these men was Philip Scheld, former owner of the Sacramento Brewery, which was located at 28th and M (now Capitol Avenue) streets.
The brewery, according to the 1880 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” was established in 1849 by a German immigrant named Peter Kadell, who during the following year began brewing beer at that site. Peter’s surname is also spelled “Cadel” in other historic references.
According to The Sacramento Union, in its June 15, 1872 edition, the brewery was rented by Philip Scheld in 1853 and purchased by him a year later.
The 1880 county history book indicates that Philip became involved in the brewery business in Sacramento in 1852.
Another version of this story, as described in the 1890 book, “An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California,” notes that Philip “rented the brewery on the East M Street, and a month later bought it.”
Prior to becoming a Sacramentan, Philip, who was born in the town of Giessen in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt in Germany on Oct. 13, 1827, attended government schools and worked on his family’s farm.
He later immigrated to the United States with his brother, Henry. They arrived in Philadelphia after a five-week voyage on July 11, 1845.
While residing in Philadelphia, Philip worked in the bakery industry and Henry dedicated himself to the cabinet making trade.
Both brothers eventually made their way to California. Henry arrived in 1849 to become a miner.
A year later, Philip, who was then living in Baltimore, was inspired by a letter that he received from his brother to head to California immediately.
After arriving in San Francisco on March 24, 1850, Philip traveled to Sacramento aboard the steamer “Hartford” before heading to El Dorado County.
He reunited with his brother in Volcano (Amador County) several weeks later.
Philip and Henry eventually worked together teaming between the mines and Sacramento.
Both the 1880 and 1890 county history books recognize Philip as becoming involved in the hotel business outside of Sacramento.
According to the 1890 county history book, this venture began after Philip and his business partner, Daniel Troy, acquired a hotel as a default method of payment for their work baking for that hotel.
Philip and Daniel had a larger hotel built to replace the hotel they acquired, and they also had a second hotel built. They continued in this business until the fall of 1852.
After Philip became the proprietor of the Sacramento Brewery, the brewery underwent many changes, including the construction of new buildings, an increase in its property size, and the addition of Switzerland native John Oschwald as co-owner of the brewery in 1869. That partnership continued until 1876.
The aforementioned June 15, 1872 edition of The Union notes that in 1860, Philip had the old brewery moved to the rear portion of the property and had a 61-foot by 42-foot, brick building constructed on the site’s northeast corner.
The 1880 county history book described the building as having been expanded to a size of 120 feet by 100 feet. The “two-story, brick addition” was built at a cost of $4,000 by Martin Madden, who was described in the Jan. 1, 1883 edition of The Union as “the leading builder in this part of the state.”
On Oct. 2, 1873, a fire occurred at the brewery’s two-story, 24-square-foot, brick, malt house.
The fire began when the malt that was being burned in the kiln overheated. The damage, which was contained inside the building, was financially covered by the brewery’s insurance.
Another building at the brewery caught on fire on Oct. 11, 1877, resulting in $1,500 in damages.
In between these fire years, Philip, who married Germany native Margaret Fritz on April 7, 1858, was involved in a near fatal accident.
During the early afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 14, 1874, following a morning of hunting several miles east of Sacramento, Philip Scheld was driving his buggy with his son, Adolph.
As Philip was resting his arm against the muzzle of his rifle, one of the buggy’s wheels ran into a squirrel hole, causing the firearm to discharge. A shell passed through his left arm, just below his shoulder, and exited out the other side of the arm.
Although the injury resulted in Philip losing his arm to amputation, it was believed that he would have bled to death had the powder of his rifle not severely burned his arm, thus slowing the bleeding.
Oddly, 20 years later, Adolph accidently shot and killed Frederick C. Glueck while he was target shooting with some of his military friends.
The Union, in its Jan. 1, 1877 edition, noted that the brewery included extensive sheds and outhouses and had utilized 200 tons of barley and three tons of hops and produced 3,000 barrels of beer in the past year.
At that time, the brewery also included a 40-foot by 100-foot malt kiln and a 40-foot by 100-foot storehouse.
In the 1880 county history book, the operation of the brewery, which was then located on nearly a whole block of land, was described as follows: “It has steam power for mechanical purposes, three steam pumps, and is complete in every particular, employing throughout the year six or seven men, and having a capacity of eighteen barrels per day.”
The Union, in its Jan. 1, 1880 edition, noted that the brewery’s advantages for the manufacture of beer and shipping throughout California were “unsurpassed by those of any competitor in business.”
The 1913 book, “History of Sacramento County, California,” recognizes the financial rewards that the brewery brought Philip, as follows: “Still in the pioneer period of the ‘50s, (Philip) identified himself with the brewery business that by his own industry and sagacity brought him a fortune.”
The same book also referred to the Sacramento Brewery as “one of the most profitable properties of the kind in the state.”
Evidence of the wealth of Philip, who was a millionaire, could be seen through his stately home, which he had built at 1105 L St. in 1880.
In February 1869, while still dedicating himself to the brewery as its proprietor, Philip became one of the original directors of the Capital Savings Bank of Sacramento at the southwest corner of 4th and J streets.
And from about 1878 to 1913, he was involved with Sacramento Savings Bank at the northwest corner of 5th and J streets.
In the final 12 years of that time, Philip served as president of this latter named bank.
Following his aforementioned accident, Philip continued his role in the brewery’s ownership for many years thereafter.
Beyond his brewery and banking activities, Philip also owned a considerable amount of property in Los Angeles County, served as a longtime local firefighter, president of the Sacramento Rifle Club and a director of the Sacramento Beet Sugar Company, and was a member of the Sacramento Turn Verein.
He died at his L Street home at the age of 85 during the early morning of July 30, 1913.
His funeral was a private affair held at his home two days after his passing and he was interred at East Lawn Cemetery during the same day.
Philip’s remains are located inside the Scheld family mausoleum on the Folsom Boulevard side of the cemetery.
This mausoleum is East Lawn’s only private, family mausoleum that contains both large and small crypts.
Also interred in this mausoleum are the remains of Margaret, who passed away at the age of 80 in 1916, Adolph, who died at the age of 84 in 1946, and three other members of the family – Adolph’s wife, Leila C. Scheld (1869-1936); Adolph and Leila’s daughter, Margaret Scheld Cook (1897-1961); and Philip’s niece, Ottilie Fritz (1865-1917).
Another Scheld family member, August C. Fritz, a Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany native who died at the age of 21 on Feb. 27, 1872, had his funeral services at the Sacramento Brewery during the afternoon of the following day. He was originally buried at the New Helvetia Cemetery at 31st Street (today’s Alhambra Boulevard), between H and J streets.
Editor’s Note: This is part three of a series regarding the old Carmichael Park pool, which was recently demolished.
Back in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was still president and bell bottoms and disco were the rage, a young college student named Don Haws began working at the Carmichael Park pool.
And although his overall time working at the pool represents a relatively short segment of his life, Haws, during an interview with this publication last week, said, “Those were some of the most memorable, pleasant and fun experiences of my life.”
But long before he became acquainted with the pool, Haws, 69, had grown up in Santa Barbara.
Haws recalled how he learned how to swim in that city during his childhood.
“When I was about 5 years, I got over my fear of water and the ocean and discovered my body was buoyant and I could dog paddle,” Haws said. “Then when my parents (Karl and Wanda) got a boat, it was mandatory that I wore a lifejacket on the boat until I learned how to swim. So, I decided to take swim lessons at a public swimming pool.”
While attending Santa Barbara High School, Haws was a member of the school’s football team, which won the 1960 California Interscholastic Federation large school, Southern Section championship at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He also lettered on the school’s swim team as a distance swimmer.
After graduating from high school in 1961, he fulfilled his general education requirements and played football at Santa Barbara City College.
In about 1963, Haws joined the Army Reserves, and from about 1965 to 1967, he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Central America in a district that covered an area from Guatemala to Panama.
After returning home from his mission, Haws continued his education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law and a minor in ergonomics (physical education) in 1970.
During his time at that university, Haws married his high school sweetheart, Holly Lyons, and they eventually had three children – David, Daniel and Shelly.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Haws was accepted to attend the McGeorge School of Law at 3282 5th Ave.
Haws said that his time at McGeorge was a short-lived endeavor.
“After six weeks, I dropped out, because I decided that law was not the profession that I wanted to pursue for a lifetime,” Haws said.
In the process of changing his direction in life, Haws visited Carmichael resident Dr. Jerome Needy, a department chairman at Sacramento State College (now Sacramento State University).
Needy allowed Haws to become a student in the recreation and park administration program under the provision that he completed undergraduate classes prior to being accepted into the graduate program.
In 1972, Haws applied for employment at the Carmichael Recreation and Park District as a day camp leader at Carmichael Park.
In addition to his work as a day camp leader, Haws served as a part-time lifeguard at the park’s pool.
He obtained that position due to his American Red Cross lifeguard certification, swim team experience and his major.
About seven months later, Haws was hired as the pool manager at Carmichael Park by the district’s administrator, Dick Pollock.
In recalling his work as the pool’s manager in 1972 and 1973, Haws said, “It was a real reward for my service and it was an incredible experience working under a park administrator who was so well trained in the field of aquatics. He was a pro. You couldn’t ask for a better mentor. He was on the swim team at UC Berkeley and he was a great diver.”
Additionally, Haws expressed high praise for the pool’s lifeguard program during that era.
“I truly believe that we and other pools in the Sacramento area were the avant-garde of pool lifeguarding in the United States at the time,” Haws said. “At our pool, we were developing a pool manual for policies and procedures. Our lifeguards had to sign in for weekly training and were required to swim laps to keep physically fit. We ran a tight ship and we ran it well. That pool was spotless. We had some outstanding lifeguards, including Lori Worthington, Harry Powell, Linda McBeth and Marcella Payne.
Haws added that the lifeguards were quite attractive, as well.
“All of our lifeguards were attractive, even the men,” he said. “I don’t know where they came from, like modeling places or something.”
While serving as the pool’s manager in 1972, Haws began coaching the 13 to 17-year-old swimmers of the Golden Valley Swim League’s Carmichael Beavers Swim Team, which at that time held its practices and home meets at the park’s pool.
His assistant was Sharon Faulkner, who coached the 12 and under team members.
In discussing his memories of coaching the Beavers, Haws said, “It was a very fulfilling experience watching the kids improve their performances. We were fortunate to win all our dual meets. Unfortunately, I didn’t have them sufficiently prepared for the finals and I totally except responsibility.
“There were many great stories associated with my time as the Beavers’ head coach. The one that touched me the most was the only moment when I had tears in my eyes at a swim meet. It was a race involving the 6 and under swim team members. The starting gun went off and it was obvious that one of the boy swimmers was not yet a strong swimmer, and he would have to swim several strokes without taking a breath and then grab onto the lane line to catch his breath. All swimmers had completed the race about one minute ahead of this boy when he finally finished the race. During the last portion of the race, everyone in the stands stood up and applauded his diligent and heart-warming effort. As the exhausted boy was attempting to climb out of the pool, I reached down and pulled him out of the water and embraced him, as tears came to my eyes.”
Haws, who was a certified scuba diver, brought the most unique program to the pool during the summer of 1973, when he arranged for scuba diving classes to be held at the pool.
After his two years of working at the Carmichael Park pool, Haws, who was then in a wheelchair due to back spasms, was nonetheless determined to take a county test at the old La Sierra High School in an attempt to become the pool manager at Elk Grove Park.
Haws had the highest score on the test and was offered the position. But he never worked a day on the job, since it was discovered that he had testicular cancer that required an operation and radiation treatment.
Fortunately for Haws and his family, these procedures were successful.
During his time of recovery, Haws completed his master’s thesis, which he titled “A Comparative Analysis of State Lifeguard Training Standards.”
His thesis was considered a landmark project, because it admonished people responsible for public pools that mere lifeguard certification through the Red Cross was insufficient to insure public safety at swimming pools.
In discussing his thesis, Haws said, “State requirements for public pool supervision needed to be revisited and upgraded.”
After completing his thesis, Haws worked as the recreation supervisor at Arden Park for about a year, and then he worked for about two years as the recreation superintendent for the North Highlands Recreation and Park District.
In 1979, Haws returned to his hometown, where he was hired as the general program supervisor for the city of Santa Barbara’s recreation department. Among the divisions that he supervised was the beaches and swimming pools division.
Eventually, Haws was enticed by his brother, Jerry, a real estate attorney, to become a real estate agent – a position he has held for the past 29 years.
Although he changed careers, Haws, who also has a brother named Karl, said that one day he hopes to assist in his former field by helping to prevent tragic drowning incidents through some avenue such as public speaking, authoring a book or becoming a teacher at the junior college level.
Note: This is part four in a series regarding past and present details about the Sacramento Zoo.
On a daily basis, visitors of the zoo pass by a large sign, which reads: Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital. But not everyone is aware of who Murray is and why the hospital was named after him.
First of all, Murray was very connected with the zoo, as he served as its first regular veterinarian for more than two decades.
And he is also widely recognized as the “father of zoological medicine.”
His life began in 1928 in Glendale, Wash., where he resided for nearly his first two years of life before moving with his family to his father Harry C. Fowler’s old hometown of Huntington, Utah.
Two months later, in July 1930, the family moved to Salt Lake City, where Harry obtained his pharmaceutical license and began the first of his many years working at a drugstore in that city.
The Fowler family, who was actively involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, moved once again in the summer of 1933, when they acquired about a 65-acre farm between Draper and Sandy, Utah.
Because Harry worked his job as a pharmacist in Salt Lake City, he was gone a considerable amount of time during each week. Therefore, Murray and his brother, Norman, were the family’s farmhands.
Murray, who began riding horses when he was 5 years old, had an interest and a work responsibility with all kinds of farm animals, including sheep, pigs and cattle.
After graduating from Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah in 1946, Murray became eligible for the draft.
Soon afterward, Murray joined the Navy and attended a nurses’ school in San Diego. He remained in that city as a “dry land sailor” for the following two years.
Utilizing the GI Bill, Murray then attended Utah State Agricultural College (today’s Utah State University), where he ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry.
Because of his love for animals, Murray decided to become a veterinarian, and thus attended Iowa State College (now Iowa State University), where he graduated in 1955 as a doctor of veterinary medicine.
After working for three years as a veterinarian, who mainly worked on racehorses in the San Fernando Valley, Murray became a member of the animal surgery staff at the University of California, Davis.
In regard to how he began working at the zoo in Sacramento, Murray said, “I went (to Davis) as an equine surgeon and all during that time, I took all kinds of animals into the (university’s) clinic. Our dean, (William Pritchard), in about 1965 or something like that, told the faculty that he wanted to have a wildlife person on the faculty, and he advertised and he had no takers for two years. If that kind of position arose now, there would be hundreds of applications for that position. There was nobody in the world that was trained. One day, when I was in his presence, he was bemoaning the fact that nobody was applying, and I said, ‘Well, why don’t you let me do it?’ And he tossed the ball and that’s when I started doing work at the zoo.”
Murray proceeded to discuss his early memories of the zoo.
“Bill Steinmetz, who was a local practitioner, had been doing the (veterinarian) work at the zoo on an on-call-type basis,” Murray said. “And so, I started a couple days a week going to the zoo, taking students with me. And then I developed a program in what is called, and is still called, zoological medicine. At that time, Hank Spencer was the director of the zoo and we hit it off pretty well and it just all grew from there.”
Murray, who was once the only person in the world who had a university position and worked with wild animals, became the zoo’s first regular veterinarian in 1967.
It was also during the later 1960s when Murray visited every major zoo in the United States to communicate with other zoo veterinarians.
During another time, Murray took a sabbatical leave from the university to spend a year in the San Diego Zoo.
He has also traveled the world teaching, lecturing and caring for wild animals.
Murray, who was president of the Sacramento Zoological Society in 1978 and 1979, and again in 1991, was also asked to serve on the board of the Morris Animal Foundation.
In discussing this organization, Murray said, “It was a foundation established (in 1948) by a fellow by the name of (Dr. Mark L.) Morris and he was a veterinarian who was actually in the East. He established this foundation to do research on essentially domestic animals – dogs and cats primarily. But it expanded to horses and ultimately to wild animals, and so that organization sponsored the first edition of (the book), ‘Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine.’ We’re getting ready to publish our eighth edition of that publication. It first came out in 1978. The (book included writings) by all U.S. authors. In that particular (book), I was probably responsible for writing two-thirds of it. We covered all the animals and that book was published first by (the) W. B. Saunders (Co.) and then by Elsevier (Health Sciences). That book, in the seventh edition, went from being ‘Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine’ (to) ‘Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine.’”
Around the same time, Murray had a book about the restraint and handling of wild and domestic animals published. And altogether, he is the editor, co-editor or author of 25 books.
In commenting about his work as an author, Murray said, “As a teacher, I perceived a need for information. My name of the game was sharing and teaching.”
Murray’s name was memorialized at the zoo in a grand way with the opening of the aforementioned Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital in 2006. The name was recommended to the city a year earlier by Mary Healy, the zoo’s current director.
While discussing this hospital, Murray said, “The most important thing, as far as I was concerned, is now the highest quality of medical service could be given to the animals at the zoo.”
Although Murray expressed that his work was not always as joyful and exciting as one might have perceived it, as he performed a lot of labor such as heavy lifting, long hours of kneeling and performing surgeries in the rain, he cherishes his experiences as a whole.
“I like the animals, I like the people who are caring for the animals and it has been a great career,” Murray said. “I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning, because I liked it so much.”
Editor’s Note: This is part eight in a series about the history of the Sacramento River.
In the last article of this series, longtime Pocket resident Barbara Lagomarsino described how she became interested in the raising of the streets of Sacramento – an undertaking that created the city’s mysterious underground.
Raising the streets was far from a simple endeavor. The board of trustees of Sacramento City supported the raising of the streets and assumed the obligation to provide the necessary materials. In this case, thousands of yards of soil were to be deposited along streets in front of buildings.
Lagomarsino wrote: “Property owners were responsible for readying the length of streets, fronting on their property, for receiving the fill. Dirt was to be deposited along the streets to depths of about 10 feet, and such vast quantities of earth could not be left in heaps.”
The piles of soil would soon become piles of mud.
Continuing, Lagomarsino wrote: “To contain the dirt, each property owner arranged individually to have a brick bulkhead wall built at the edge of the street line in front of his property. The bulkheads extended from the ground up to the established grade, to which leveled dirt would later be piled in the street.”
Many of these brick bulkheads are still visible in Old Sacramento and whenever there is construction in the core downtown area.
The task of the business owner could seem arduous and expensive, but Lagomarsino wrote: “In the autumn of 1866, a bulkhead was built to high grade for only $3 a running foot.”
And while some of the bulkheads have collapsed, many are still standing more than 150 years later.
But the task of raising a building above the bulkheads was never easy.
Lagomarsino recounted the story of the St. George Hotel, which was raised in 1866.
“Two hundred and fifty (jackscrews) were put into place under that job in early August. It was about two weeks before work on the $7,450 contract was begun. By October, the whole job was finished; 160 feet by 76 feet, weighing about 1,900 tons, the building had been raised 8 feet (with very little damage inside and out).”
These massive modifications to the city’s structures also affected the infrastructure. The soil brought in to raise the streets covered fire hydrants and buried water lines beneath several feet of new soil; this made it difficult for the fire department to respond effectively. And if a water line broke, service was interrupted to the entire city.
Lagomarsino wrote, “In October 1865, a water line under newly raised 2nd Street broke.
Without warning, all water in the city was turned off at 5 o’clock in the evening.”
But it was not only underground water pipes that were affected. Because the streets were raised, buildings could not get proper water pressure from the old delivery system. In August 1867, the city water tank had to be raised 5 feet in order to provide enough pressure to carry water as high as four floors.
Lagomarsino’s research revealed that “most businesses were closed during the raising of their buildings. However, not all buildings were vacated while they were being raised.
In 1864, a wooden tenement in the Chinese section of town in (sic) I Street, between 2nd and 3rd (streets) was being raised during gale winds when it toppled over, scattering its occupants as it fell.” Ultimately, Lagomarsino’s research concluded “such catastrophes were extremely rare. Most buildings were raised without problems and stood solidly afterwards.”
But even in the 19th century, buyers had to beware of nefarious and unscrupulous contractors who could not complete the jobs that they promised they would finish at certain arranged times.
Lagomarsino told the story of a house that was owned by Mary Esqueval on the block bounded by 2nd, 3rd, K and L streets.
Esqueval had arranged for a builder named Joel Johnson to raise her home and make elaborate changes that would significantly upgrade the beauty and condition of the house.
“The whole process was to take two weeks. The total cost was $500 in gold and silver, $100 to be paid when the screws were set, $200 more when the brickwork and sidewalks were finished and the final $200 when the job was completed. Unfortunately, the work was not so craftsmen-like as the agreement suggested it would be. He did not finish the work and she had to hire someone to raise the kitchen as well as to repair damage caused by raising the main house. All doors had to be re-hung; the whole house had to be painted and papered; the roof on the main building had to be fixed; and various other jobs had to be finished. The house settled several inches and developed cracks within a few months after he left the job. Both water and gas pipes were injured. Johnson had obviously not satisfied this customer.”
Shoddy construction was not the only problem with raising Sacramento.
While the responsibility of the city and the property owners was outlined in the raising of the streets and buildings, it was never clearly defined.
For instance, the sidewalks became the responsibility of the individual property owner. Hence, the completion of sidewalks at building level was very inconsistent.
In some cases, the sidewalks were not completed and a gapping hole existed in front of the building.
In other cases, the sidewalks were completed to street level, but the buildings had not yet been raised.
Lagomarsino wrote: “Under the best of conditions, a walk through Sacramento’s rising downtown area could be a hazardous up and down affair, especially at night. Among complaints, made editorially by local papers about dangerous sidewalks during the years of raising was one when a man fell 12 feet off a sidewalk to a vacant lot below. Another one, a man fell off a raised sidewalk onto an unraised street, and another when a man, ‘said to be perfectly sober’ following a sidewalk under construction, walked off the end of it and fell 9 or 10 feet onto the sidewalk below.”
All of this integrated construction to raise the city in order to achieve flood protection took several years and during those years, the streets were a perilous obstacle course for pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles. Even today, the dangers of Sacramento’s underground are still visible even if the surface barriers have been gone for more than 150 years.
By 1873, the grading, raising and reconstruction was finished.
The lives of the citizenry and businesses had been disrupted for a decade. But was it worth it to the residents of Sacramento?
The answer may be found in the fact that Sacramento has not experienced any of the devastating floods that were common before the raising of the city and the creation of the underground.
The indomitable city once again displayed its courage, creativity and cooperation in the face of natural disaster.
But is the big flood still coming? The next article of this series will address the ultimate conclusion of the threat from hydraulic mining, some dangers that threatened severe damaged, the introduction of more modern mechanisms for flood control and the efforts of citizens and government agencies to partner in the control of rising waters.
Evidence of the Sacramento underground is still visible in many places and the Sacramento History Museum at 101 I St. in Old Sacramento now offers guided tours of some areas of the abandoned lower city.
Tickets are currently on sale on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and tours leave every half hour. Beginning June 1, tours will be offered daily.
The costs of the tours are $15/adults and $10/youth, 6 to 17 years old.
For additional information regarding these tours, call (916) 808-7059.
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a series regarding the old Carmichael Park pool, which was recently demolished.
The Carmichael Park pool, which was recently demolished, was certainly a site where many fond memories were created.
Although the pool had not been in use since the end of the 2004 swimming season, its value to the community has not been lost, as is evident in efforts to replace it with an aquatics center.
But for now, the site of the pool will simply expand a lawn-covered recreational area west of the Carmichael Recreation and Park District’s administration offices.
A review of some old newspaper clippings, recreational activities schedules, fliers and other documents on file with the district revealed a very active pool that was frequently utilized by many people for a variety of aquatic activities, including many swim lessons.
The majority of the newspaper clippings on file are from the 1970s, and one such article is dated July 17, 1975.
In this article, the pool is presented as follows: “A frolic in the sparkling, clear, cool blue water is the ideal pick-me-up from the oppressive heat of a summer afternoon. The pool sports two new Duraflex diving boards, as well as a small spray pool.”
A 1969 article notes that the pool would open for the season with the park in charge of its operation and the Sacramento YMCA supplying the personnel under a one-year contract.
The 1973 annual Carmichael Park pool evaluation report, which was prepared by Don Haws, the pool’s manager at that time, presents an overview of activities and schedules for that year’s swim season.
The park’s comprehensive aquatics schedule, which was considered one of the finest in the Sacramento area, included both public swimming and an instruction program.
Under the public swimming section of the 1973 report, it was noted that the pool, which was “heated for your swimming enjoyment,” was open daily from 1 to 5 p.m. and from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Public swimming admission was 60 cents for those 18 years old or older, 35 cents for person 6 to 17 years old and free for children, 5 years old or younger who were accompanied by an adult. A seasonal family plan was available for $20, while a “Ten Plan” cost $5 for those 18 and older and $2.50 for persons, 6 to 17.
The instruction program, which was conducted in cooperation with the Sacramento area chapter of the American Red Cross, featured classes that were generally 30 minutes long.
The classes offered in 1973 included pre-school, beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, swimmer, advanced swimmer, springboard diving, women’s “Swim ‘n’ Trim,” competitive swim, synchronized swim, junior lifesaving, senior lifesaving and water safety instruction.
But the most unique class offered at the pool was the scuba diving class, which was open to teenagers and adults, who possessed a minimum of intermediate swimming skills.
The two-week-long, evening course cost $35 for residents and $38 for non-residents.
Those who completed the class received certification through the National Association of Underwater Instructors.
An instructor for at least part of the time that the scuba diving course was being offered was Terry Jones.
Other people associated with the pool during that era were lifeguards Linda McBeath, Marcella Payne, Harry Powell and Lori Worthington.
At least most of the pool’s lifeguards were also swimming instructors.
Other instructors mentioned in reference material used for this article were Barbara Ebhart, Ron Courts and Linda Duncan.
Furthermore, Kelly Adamson was recognized as a swim lessons aid for beginners.
The 1973 schedule also included the summer swim show – “a fun and exciting evening of skits, diving skills, synchronized swimming, etc.”
The free-of-charge, evening event was staged by the park’s pool staff and local swimmers.
The pool was the site of another swim show during the following summer. This August 16 show featured clown divers, the Rutter Pool Diving Team, the champion Carmichael Beavers Swim Team and highlights from the instructional program.
Another 1970s entertainment program at the pool occurred on Friday evening, Aug. 17, 1973. The show, which was known as “Something for Everybody,” included stunt diving, a water ballet routine, springboard diving, swimming demonstrations, the “race of the century” and lifeguard rescue techniques.
The Beavers team, which is well represented in the district’s files, eventually relocated to the Del Campo High School pool.
But the team’s home pool was not always at Carmichael Park prior to that time, as is indicated by an article in the May 8, 1969 edition of the Carmichael Courier.
The lead paragraph of the article reads: The Carmichael Beavers Swim Team, sponsored by the Carmichael Recreation and Park District, and opened to all families in the Carmichael area, will commence the 1969 season on Tuesday, May 13 at the northeast ‘Y,’ 3127 Eastern Ave.”
One of the many Beavers team-related articles – a Courier article, which was dated Aug. 1, 1974 – announced the Beavers’ aforementioned championship. The team won the Golden Valley Swim League championship by beating the previous year’s champions from Folsom.
Accompanying the article were three photographs, including a photograph of coaches, Bob Van Gundy and the previously mentioned Terry Jones, who traded in their beards for a trophy. The coaches had committed to abandoning shaving their faces until the team won the championship.
Another 1970s article introduced the Aquacade event, which was presented to about 250 people through the pool’s staff, in cooperation with the Beavers swim team.
The event, which included a dive through flames by park administrator Dick Pollock and a “crummy lifeguard demonstration, ended with a party at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour.
The district’s spring 1997 schedule of recreational activities recognizes the Beavers team as then-heading into its 30th season.
Among the other items on file with the district is a legal notice, dated Aug. 20, 1975. The notice was directed to contractors who were interested in submitting sealed bids for “Fiberglassing Carmichael Park Swimming Pool Contract No. 915.
Public swimming opportunities at the park’s pool were not always “pay-to-play” activities, as is evident by an Aug. 16, 1978 article that announced, “Free swim Wednesdays at Carmichael Park.” Regular admission prices at that time were $1/adults, 65 cents/children, 6 to 17, and 35 cents/children, 5 and younger.
Family swim nights were also once quite popular at the park’s pool.
Some locals may also recall the 30-minute “Mom & Me” swim lessons, which allowed a parent to accompany their preschool aged youngster in a course that emphasized water adjustment and simple skills.
But for whatever reason that one might remember the Carmichael pool, one thing is for certain: it undoubtedly left a positive mark on this community.