Historical Resources

Reexamining Our Past

In summer of 2020 we first shared news that plans were underway at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park to update the Interpretive Master Plan. The purpose of this effort is to transform the way history is interpreted to tell the story of all people’s experience at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park.

“This is the most comprehensive revision to the park’s interpretation since the adoption of the Interpretation Element in the Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park General Plan in 1990. With this planning effort, a more inclusive and historically accurate history will be shared with the thousands of school children and visitors that annually tour the National Historic Landmark site in the heart of midtown Sacramento.”  Read the entire California State Parks Press Release

Public workshops and an online survey were held to collect public feedback in Spring of 2022. Please stay tuned for updates. 


A Brief History of Sutter’s Fort

In 1839 a Swiss immigrant named John Sutter received a land grant in the Sacramento Valley from the Mexican government. He used the land to create a flourishing agricultural empire and named it New Helvetia (New Switzerland.) This empire established Sacramento’s earliest settlement and the first non-Indian settlement in California’s Central Valley.

In 1848, James Marshall, a carpenter working for Sutter, discovered gold at the sawmill Sutter was having built in Coloma, on the American River. Less than a decade after they were established, Sutter’s properties were overrun by gold seekers and the fort is all that remains of New Helvetia.

In 1881, the Native Sons of the Golden West began work to restore of the Fort. This major restoration was completed in 1893, making Sutter’s Fort the oldest restored Fort in the United States. 

Sutter’s Fort became a part of the California State Park System in 1947. It is also a State Historic Landmark and a national Historic Landmark.

Online Videos


California State Parks manages a YouTube channel for Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and Friends of Sutter’s Fort manages a YouTube channel that is focused on our philanthropic work, educational programs and community events.

From the Official Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park YouTube Channel

Books & Resources available from Friends of Sutter’s Fort

Friends of Sutter’s Fort operate the Museum Store within Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, with all proceeds going back into supporting our efforts of preserving the historic structures and artifacts, and funding Sutter’s Fort educational programming.

In addition, we have some items for sale online including:

Books/ Resource Manuals

Online Resources to Learn More about the History of Sutter’s Fort

Resources from California State Parks:

Thesis Paper: From Merchant Shops to Museum: The Fort after Sutter

by Jared Arthur Jones

Download the paper (.pdf)

LESSON PLAN FOR 8-12TH GRADE STUDENTS: The Impact of the Gold Rush on Native Americans of California: A Source Investigation

The Smithsonian