Sutter's Fort

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SUTTER'S FORT. In 1841 John Sutter (1803–1880) established a fort in California's Sacramento Valley as the trade and commercial center of his New Helvetia colony. It contained a central building constructed of adobe bricks,

surrounded by a high wall with bastions on opposite corners to guard against attack. Built around the interior of the wall were the workshops and stores that produced all goods necessary for New Helvetia to function as a selfsupporting community. Sutter's Fort housed a kitchen, able to serve up to two hundred workers and visitors a day; carpenter and blacksmith shops; a bakery and blanket factory; a general store and jail; and rooms that Sutter provided free to the region's new immigrants. Sutter's Fort is most often associated with James Marshall's discovery of gold in 1849, but the ensuing gold rush resulted in the destruction of the fort and its resources by miners and fortune hunters, and in the financial ruin of John Sutter. Sutter left New Helvetia in 1850, and Sutter's Fort fell into disrepair. When restoration efforts began in 1890, the central building was all that remained. The fort has been reconstructed and restored and is now maintained and administered as a California State Park.


Gudde, Erwin G. Sutter's Own Story: The Life of General John Augustus Sutter and the History of New Helvetia in the Sacramento Valley. New York: Putnam, 1992. The original edition was published in 1936.

Lewis, Oscar. Sutter's Fort: Gateway to the Gold Fields. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

Payen, Louis A. Excavations at Sutter's Fort, 1960. Sacramento: State of California, Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Beaches and Parks, Interpretive Services, 1961. Facsimile reprint, Salinas, Calif.: Coyote Press, n.d.


See alsoGold Rush, California .