Underground tours of Old Sacramento

Your tour begins at the Sacramento History Museum. | Photo by SACtoday staff

While Sac has more than its fair share of historical moments + oddities, one of our favorites has to be the fact that a not-so-insignificant chunk of the original city remains out of sight under Old Sac. 

We recently took a tour of Underground Sac and, while we weren’t allowed to take photos, we can tell you about what we saw + learned on our expedition.

The tour begins at the Sacramento History Museum and meanders its way through parts of Old Sacramento to showcase various historical buildings — such as California’s oldest theater, the Eagle Theater — before heading towards the one-time western terminus of the Pony Express, the B.F. Hastings Building. Oh, and did we mention that our tour guide was in character as B. F. Hastings the entire time?

As we delved into what was once the first floor of his building, he regaled us with tales of the historic flooding in 1862, which prompted the city to raise its buildings anywhere from two feet to 20 feet. Citizens, specialists, and even unpaid convicts used screw jacks placed under the buildings, along with creating a new Boardwalk-style street level, to get the job done. 

What we didn’t know was that the city also raised its levees and even diverted part of the Sacramento River just to be extra safe with their flood prevention measures.

The second leg of our hour-long tour took us under a block of Second St., letting us explore an area that once housed a doctor’s office along with a few brothels (the early days of Sac were a wild time). On display were even items from the era that had been dug up by archaeology students studying our city’s past.

All we can say is we are down with the underground. Find out for yourself at the docent-led tour, which runs seven days a week.