Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the Mountain Pacific Forts

Picture of Sutter's Fort

The Fort

In the summer of 1840, Sutter, using both his growing work force and local Indians, began building what would become an adobe fort.  The walls were 2.5 feet thick and 15-18 feet high.  The compound was 320 feet long.  Sutter's Fort was larger than Fort Laramie and half the size of Fort Vancouver.  His headquarters was the Central Building, a three floored structure located in the middle of the Fort compound.  He had quarters for some of his workers, a bakery, blanket factory, blacksmith shop, carpenter shop and other workshops within the fort.  He located a tannery on the American River.  Dwellings for guests and his vaqueros were also outside the fort.  Probably no more than 50 people stayed inside at any one time prior to 1845.  A maximum of 30 people could have used the fort during daylight hours.

By 1860, all that remained was his house, known today as the Central Building.  The walls and bastions were gone, much of it even pilfered.  The Native Sons of the Golden West purchased it in 1890 and donated it to the State in 1891.  Reconstruction began in 1891 based on Civil Engineer Grunsky's reconstruction plan.  The current ongoing rehabilitation is based on the Kunzul Map published in Darmstadt, Germany in 1847 to encourage German immigration to California.


Sutter's Fort is located at 26th & K street in downtown Sacramento. It is also surrounded by freeways. Interstate 5 to the west. Interstate 99 to the east. Interstate 50 & Interstate 80 headed off  to the Sierra Nevada. And due west is Interstate 80 headed in from the Bay Area.


The Fort is available for private parties and gatherings for a fee.
Call for availability and information:   916-324-7405.

A self-guided audio tour is available.

Special events are scheduled throughout the year.

Sutter's Fort Trade Store provides a large variety of authentic gifts and publications relating to California history including the Overland Trail and Gold Rush. The store is non-profit and operated by the Sacramento Historic Sites Association in cooperation with the California State Parks.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing

Summer and spring are warm; fall and winter can be cool. Layered clothing is advised.

Communities and Related Links
Sutter's Fort Web Site

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