Sacramento Journals

Sacramento & Folsom: Heart of the Old West

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A February 2001 trip to Sacramento by Cheryl Morgan

Courtyard Hotel Sacramento Rancho Cordova Photo, Sacramento, California More Photos
Quote: Although few people seem to know it, Sacramento is the state capital of California. 150 years ago, it and the neighbouring city of Folsom were central to business life in the Golden State. In so much as California has history, it is here.

Sacramento & Folsom: Heart of the Old West

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Overview

Quote:
The history of California is inextricably bound up with railways. These days, of course, everyone flies, but at a time when the only choices for getting from the East Coast to California were cross country by stage coach or by sea with a land crossing in Panama the prospect of a trans-continental railway was enormously attractive. Consequently the State Railroad Museum provides a history of the state, not just of trains. I am indebted to my friend and travelling companion, Kevin Standlee, for some of the detailed information on California's history and railways.Quick Tips: If you are staying in the San Francisco Bay Area and fancy spending a few days up state you might want to try taking the ...Read More

Courtyard Hotel Sacramento Rancho Cordova

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Hotel | "Marriott Courtyard Hotel"

Courtyard Hotel Sacramento Rancho Cordova Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
Kevin''s family live in some of the smaller towns and cities to the north of Sacramento so we make this trip quite regularly. We normally stay at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Rancho Cordova on the northern edge of Sacramento. Some of the newer hotels in the Courtyard chain have gone back to the traditional high-rise block of rooms model, but the original Courtyard plan was for one or two floors built around (surprise) a central courtyard. Naturally in California said courtyard contains a swimming pool which, in Sacramento, is a good thing. "One never sees Summer-clothing or mosquitoes in San Francisco--but they can be found in Sacramento. Not always and unvaryingly, but about one hundred a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Courtyard Hotel Sacramento Rancho Cordova
10683 White Rock Road
Rancho Cordova, California 95670
(916) 638-3800

California Fats

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Restaurant | "California Fat's"

California Fats Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
The most famous name in Sacramento restauranting is that of Frank Fat. His establishment adjacent to the State Capitol is a favourite with politicians and celebrities. California Fat's, in Old Sacramento, is run by Frank's Hong Kong-born daughter-in-law, Lina. She also owns the adjacent Fat City, but that is simply a traditional American grill bar whereas California Fat's is her gourmet establishment. When Lina took over the restaurant it was called China Camp, served standard Chinese food and was modelled on a mine. You can still see that influence in the profusion of bare timber. But Lina recruited Los Angeles designer Anthony Machado...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

California Fats
1015 Front St
Sacramento, California 95814
+1 916 441 7966

Courtyard Marriott by : Rancho Cordova

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Restaurant | "Marriott Courtyard Hotel"

Courtyard Marriott by : Rancho Cordova Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
Although the Courtyard, in common with most American hotels, does not require you to pay for breakfast, it does have a breakfast bar for guests who need feeding. And boy can it feed you. Alongside the traditional American fried breakfast it offers a range of pastries (croissants, chocolate eclairs!) and a make-your-own waffle bar. This is a sure way to cholesterol overdose, but it is deliciously sinful. Even more temptingly, it is on an all-you-can-eat tariff, so you keep feeling obliged to have just a little more. For those of you who are serious about sensible eating and don't feel that a session in the hotel gym later in the day will excuse a binge, they do offer fresh fruit and yog...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Courtyard Marriott by : Rancho Cordova
10683 White Rock Road
Sacramento, California 95670
(916) 638-3800

Umeko Japanese Seafood Buffet

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Restaurant

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I think that sushi must be the ideal meal for an all-you-can-eat restaurant. Firstly you get lots of rice so you fill up quickly without consuming too many calories. Second, the rest of the food (raw fish and vegetables) is unarguably good for you and not fattening. And finally, nothing has to sit around getting tepid in bain maries. The only real worry is how freshly prepared the food is, and if the restaurant is good it will need replenishing regularly. Umeko in Sacramento has the benefits of being relatively close to our hotel and also of serving standard Chinese dishes for the benefit of Kevin who I am still trying to convince of the mer...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Umeko Japanese Seafood Buffet
8353 Folsom Blvd
Sacramento, California
(916) 381-6397

The Balcony Cafe

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Restaurant

The Balcony Cafe Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
Our regular stop for brunch on trips up state is the Balcony Café in Folsom. It is part of the old town and is based in a building dating from the 1850s, though it has only been a restaurant since 1974. The first thing we liked about it is that it has, as you might guess, a balcony. On a warm sunny day you can sit outside, well above the traffic, and enjoy your meal looking out over Old Folsom. It is very pleasant. We also like their breakfasts. For the most part it is the traditional American fare, but with imaginative twists. We are particularly fond of the Polish sausage and of the "hats off" - mushrooms cooked in red wine and topped with melted Swiss cheese. The burgers are good too. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

The Balcony Cafe
801 ½ Sutter Street
Sacramento, California
(916) 985-2605

Old Folsom

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Attraction

Old Folsom Photo, Sacramento, California
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Folsom has managed to preserve much of its old main street pretty much as it looked in pioneer days. Of course many of the shops now sell craft goods, antiques and tourist knick-knacks rather than anything useful, and the area specialises in hopelessly over-sentimental Christmas goods for several months of the year. One side of the road is given over to reconstruction of the old Folsom-Sacramento railroad and a history centre. The later was closed on this particular visit which is a shame as it has some interesting stuff from the gold rush days. Recently completed is a splendid reconstruction of the turntable from the old railway. Some rail fans obviously put a lot of care and effort into that. ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Old Folsom
Sutter Street
Sacramento, California

Old Sacramento (Old Town)

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Attraction | "Old Sacramento"

Old Sacramento (Old Town) Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
Sacramento has a rather more extensive "old town" than Folsom, as befits its status as state capital. The area is a major tourist attraction and was very busy, even on the cold and rainy Sunday afternoon of this visit. I'm only going to be able to scratch the surface of what is available in this journal. For example, we did not have time to visit the Discovery Museum, the Military Museum or the exhibition of Russian dinosaurs (though quite what Russian dinosaurs have to do with historic California is another matter). Old Sacramento had got to a pretty run down state by the time that someone thought it worthy of preservation and what you see today is a mixture of original buildings and reconstruc...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Old Sacramento (Old Town)
1101 Second St
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 264-7777

Sacramento Riverfront

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Attraction

Sacramento Riverfront Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
No mention of historical America is complete without a paddle steamer, and Sacramento does not disappoint. After all, the river was the main method of transport to San Francisco and the coast. Several fine vessels are on display at Old Sacramento. River cruises are available on the Spirit of Sacramento. Some trips are available in winter but a weekend schedule is only available April through October. The original Spirit was lost to fire in 1996 so the vessel that you can now see is a replacement, originally the Becky Thatcher of Cincinnati. While she might not own the original name, Mistress Becky certainly has spirit. She made her way from the Mississippi to Sacramento, und...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Sacramento Riverfront
Front Street
Sacramento, California

California State Railroad Museum

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Attraction

California State Railroad Museum Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
The largest attraction in Old Sacramento is the State Railroad Museum. It stands next to Sacramento station across the tracks from the great old Southern Pacific Locomotive Works. Like most railway museums, it has far more stock than it can possibly display, thanks to the huge size of the exhibits and the cost of restoring them to viewable condition. Many of the locomotives are parked out on the riverfront, or in a separate building near by. Nevertheless, the museum is an interesting destination, and an absolute must for rail fans. Unfortunately it is quite dark inside the museum so I had a lot of difficulty with photographs. Pride of place at the entrance is given to the Governor Stanford...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

California State Railroad Museum
111 I St
Sacramento, California 95814
+1 916 445 6645

Folsom Premium Outlets

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Attraction

Quote:
OK, this has nothing to do with Californian history, but I never go anywhere without checking out the local shopping. Folsom has a very fine collection of outlet stores (factory stores, remainder stores or whatever you happen to call them). As you would expect, they are good value, and it is hard to see anything wrong with most of the merchandise. There are more and 80 stores, and they include names such as Donna Karan, Gap, Liz Claiborne, Nike, Van Heusen, Zales and Waterford/Wedgwood. There is also a small food court, because if you are serious about your shopping you could be here for a long time. A particular favourite of mine is Book Warehouse, which seems to have excellent acces...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Folsom Premium Outlets

Sacramento, California
(916) 985-0313

Maestro Gerhard

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Attraction

Maestro Gerhard Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
Now let me get this straight, you travel all the way from San Jose to Folsom so that Kevin can get his hair cut? Well, yes. Us girlies understand that sort of thing. A good hairdresser is hard to find, and if I could afford to go back to my usual salon in Melbourne when I needed a haircut I would do so. Kevin's requirements are less extravagant, but he has more reason for them. Gerhard Nonnemacher is not just any old hairdresser; he is a star of the profession. Years ago he owned the most fashionable salon in San Francisco. He has signed photographs bearing thanks from a range of famous clients including Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Mel Brooks, Liberace, Louis Armstrong and, of course, Tony Benn...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Maestro Gerhard
The Razor Cut, 9353 Greenback Lane
Sacramento, California

Old Sacramento (Old Town)

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Attraction | "Old Sacramento"

Old Sacramento (Old Town) Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
As I mentioned in my entry on Old Sacramento as a tourist attraction, many of the buildings there are given over to some strange shops. The place selling replica Star Trek uniforms seems to have closed down, but there are plenty of weird places left. The better stores specialise in things like craft goods. There are several shops specialising in Native American wares. Many shops sell antiques from the 19th Century so that you can take your own piece of history home. Also more or less in keeping with the theme are shops selling locally produced food and drink. Discover California has a fine range of micro-brewed beers and local wines. Be warned, however, that they charge for the adverti...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 22, 2001

Old Sacramento (Old Town)
1101 Second St
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 264-7777

The Pony Express

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Story/Tip

Money fortress Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
One of the most famous features of Old West is the Pony Express. This courier service ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to California; a distance of almost 2000 miles that included crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains. The riders would cover the route in 10 days. The service began in June 1860 when the western terminus was at Folsom. From there the mail was transferred by train to Sacramento and thence it travelled by riverboat to San Francisco. In June 1861 the service was extended all the way to Jack London Square in Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco. For all its fame, however, the service was not a financial success and it lasted only another 6 months before closing down. Pony Express...Read More

The Trans-Continental Railroad

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Story/Tip

The great engineer Photo, Sacramento, California
Quote:
While the Pony Express and stagecoaches were effective at cutting the journey time to the east, the dream of 19th Century California was a railroad link across the continent. This was not going to be easy. The Sierra Nevada posed a big enough obstacle to pioneer wagon trains; how could a railway possibly be cut through such terrain? One man had an unshakeable belief that it could be done: an engineer from New York called Theodore Judah. From an office in the Hastings Building in Sacramento (which also housed the Wells Fargo bank and still stands today) he set about raising backing for his enterprise. Even in those days, California was a land of venture capitalists. Judah got his backing from a gro...Read More