One of the most prominent cities in Northern California has a mysterious past… and a whole underground level that hardly anyone talks about! Old Sacramento was built up during the time of the gold rush, but the frequent flooding of this area obliterated its first level time and time again, until finally, the city abandoned that level altogether. It’s both fascinating and creepy to tour the abandoned level… see for yourself!

In the mid 1800s during the height of the Gold Rush, Sacramento was a booming settlement located on the banks of the Sacramento River. It was the gateway to the Mother Lode, and nearly every 49er who came to seek their fortune passed through this area.

Sacramento Underground docents welcome you in style. They dress in period clothing and are very knowledgeable about local history.

Unfortunately (and as we are experiencing with our stormy, wet winter), the Sacramento area is prone to extreme flooding. The settlers became tired of their city being destroyed by the floods, so in the 1860s and 1870s the town began to raise its streets and buildings.

Sacramento Underground tours take place in Old Town Sac., and even if you don’t make it below the surface, this historic and well preserved spot offers a lot of history all on it’s own.

Living history reenactments, as seen here, show the political contention revolving around what to do about Sacramento’s flooding problem. Levees were also built, and while they are constantly monitored for the safety of the city’s 479,686 residents, they have been known to fail on more than one occasion.

In the late 1800s, new buildings and streets were built above the first level and out of the flow of the raging river during storms.

The orginal first floor was abandoned and Sacramentans eventually forgot about its existence, except for the occasion cellar or basement that was used for storage but was once a first floor.

Modern excavations have uncovered the former first level of Old Sacramento. A subterranean maze of hidden underground spaces and streets was revealed.

Facebook/ Old Sacramento Underground Tours

The Sacramento History Museum now offers tours of this historic, but admittedly spooky, underground city. The guides are dressed to the nines in period wear, making you feel like you stepped right back in time.

The tour walks you along the old sidewalk and inside a few rooms that are structurally sound. It can get humid and damp in the underground, which means it’s a great way to escape Sacramento’s heat in the summer.

It’s quite dusty and grimy, however, so we recommend closed toed shoes if you don’t want the centuries-old dust all over your feet.

It lasts about an hour and covers about a half mile. It is ADA compliant and can accommodate up to 20 people at a time, including kids ages 6 to 17.

The tours depart from the Sacramento History Museum at 101 I Street in Old Sacramento. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youths. Reservations are highly encouraged, These tours sell out!

Book your tour today through the Sacramento History Museum (916-808-7973).