The History Museum of Sacramento is the only museum dedicated to the history of Sacramento, California and California Gold Rush. It’s located on 101 I Street in Old Sacramento. The Sacramento River is just west of the museum, and both the Tower Bridge and the I Street Bridge are visible from the museum. The building itself is a replica of Sacramento’s 1854 City Hall and Waterworks building, decorated in natural brick with two stories of 14-foot double doors across the front. The exhibition themes include Gold Rush and mining, Nisenan & Maidu Indian Nations, fur trapping, agriculture and cultural heritage.
The original “fire proof” brick building housed the city’s water supply in the roofing water tanks and suffered structural problems due to the extreme weight of the tanks. The failed building was soon converted into a city prison.
By 1870, the transcontinental railroad was in full swing, with Sacramento serving as its western terminal. The location of the City Waterworks building, so close to the new tracks! – forced the main line of the railroad to curve sharply around it. The constant vibration generated by the trains caused more structural damage to the building that had already failed. By 1880, most of the city offices had been relocated, and there was growing concern for the safety of the police officers and prisoners who had left.
In 1912, the Waterworks building was in such a state of disrepair that the city moved its police and prisoners to a temporary prison, finally condemning the Waterworks building. It was sold to and demolished by the Southern Pacific Railway in 1913. A small part of the old prison survived the demolition, serving as the only physical remains of the city’s very first municipal building.
The Sacramento History Museum Programs offer a variety of educational programs for field trips. All programming adheres to California Curriculum Standards. Museum programs are 30 minutes to 90 minutes long and take place at the Sacramento History Museum. Each program can accommodate up to 35 people.
The Amtrak Train Station of Sacramento is located immediately adjacent to Old Sacramento. The walking distance between Sacramento Train Station and Old Sacramento is about two blocks from the city. As you exit your train or bus, look for a large, green Interstate Highway Bridge overhead (to the west of the train station). Walk to the bridge and look for the “Old Sacramento” banners. A striped walkway leads directly from the Amtrak Passenger Platform, west under the highway bridge, through a parking lot, to the historic Old Sacramento.
In Old Sacramento, there are two parking garages. The closest to the Museum of History of Sacramento is 2nd & I Street. There are also a limited number of 90-minute on-street parking spaces throughout Old Sacramento.