Sacramento is the capital of California and not San Francisco or Los Angeles as many people think. Those who don’t know the history of California often wonder how this particular city got the distinction considering it’s small with less than half a million people and not known for capitol city “things” like having a sports team (e.g. the SF Giants, SF 49ers, the Oakland A’s, Lakers, Dodgers, or the Sharks).
Sacto wasn’t always a smaller city (comparatively). During the gold rush, it was the hub of activity for settlers and people coming west in search of gold. It was also the start/endpoint for western communication and transport: stagecoaches coming from to the East, the Transcontinental Railroad started in Sacramento’s Old Town, and the city was the Western terminus of the Pony Express (Photo #13). Because a large number of the people who came to Sacramento were those who became rich or were able to fund an expedition to California through business savvy, over time the city had a number of influential people who had connections throughout the United States (if not the world).
As such, the city had four things working in its favour when it became time to choose a new capital: the city’s connections, it was a major distribution point of people and product travelling overland by stagecoach (the railroad and Pony Express came after Sacto was made capital), it was easy to defend unlike the Mexican Capitol of Monterey, and it was also the oldest incorporated city in California (February 27, 1850).
But like most governmental matters, the decision was not as black and white as we’d expect. Prior to Sacramento being named the capital city of California in 1854, several other cities were used/chosen… some for a week… others for as long as a year. And, even after naming Sacramento, people have tried to relocate the capital to cities like Oakland, Berkeley, and even back to Monterey.
Either way, the State Capitol of California is Sacramento.
Skip to the modern-day…
We were in Sacto during the American Canyon earthquake which impacted Napa. There were many reports of people feeling the shock waves but I honestly we didn’t notice much other than hearing the sounds of the garbage bins hitting each other in the alley behind our hotel. I actually thought it was garbage trucks out early to pick up the trash; on the previous day they were out at 2:30am.
If we could do the trip again, I would stay on the Delta King. It’s a paddleboat that sits on the Sacramento River. We had brunch there on Saturday but you can also rent rooms on the boat. It seems like an interesting experience.