More Sutter's Fort Information
In 1839, the Mexican government granted land to a Swiss immigrant named John Sutter in the Sacramento Valley. On his new land John Sutter created a flourishing agricultural empire, which he named New Helvetia (New Switzerland.) His fort established Sacramento's earliest, non-Indian settlement in California's Central Valley. Sutter’s land included the majority of the Sacramento Valley.
The Donner Party, a group of pioneers trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the severe winter of 1847, found refuge and aid from Captain Sutter. Word spread, and Sutter became known for his hospitality. This generosity made Sutter’s Fort the destination for early pioneers to California.
Less than ten years after Sutter began his agricultural enterprise, his land was swarmed by gold seekers. The fort is all that remains of New Helvetia. It has been restored to its former state based on an 1847 map.
The Environmental Living day begins at 8 a.m., when parents and students arrive and set up for the day's activities. Some students (4th grade students get priority) may have the opportunity to ride a horse-drawn wagon across downtown Sacramento to the Fort while others play the role of the citizens and wait at the Fort to greet the new pioneers. Then, at about 10 a.m., the day program for the students begins. This program consists of ten activity stations, which they rotate through about every 30/35 minutes. Each station gives a sampling of the work done by pioneers and fort employees of 1846.
Parents & teachers run and teach these activity stations. Training for these stations is provided ahead of time.
Both parents and children are required to dress in period clothing. See further down this page for more information.
The evening program includes wonderful period music and dancing.
The night ends with very sleepy children and adults ready for some shut eye.
The next morning all wake to the Fort bell. Breakfast includes Fort made cinnamon rolls and coffee followed by time to pack up and clean up. The program ends at about 8:30 a.m.. It is then time to say good-bye to the past and return to the 21st century.
Cost is $145 per K-12 student.
TEENS: Students in grades 9th and above who have previously participated in the event will have the option of participating as apprentices. They will choose and attend training for the station of their choice. Cost for apprentices is $80
South Sutter, Visions, and Inspire Charter School funds accepted, as well as personal pay. The ELP Dates for the 2019-2020 school year have been announced. For personal pay, there are no refunds after December 1st, 2019.
Fee includes all meals, all crafts, activities, music, and park fees. Parking costs not included.
No charge for participating parent/s.
Fort To Do List
Helpful Research Links
Clothes Enough Costumes (Rentals)
Carolyn Elder does a fantastic job at equipping our pioneers from head to toe. She carries a great selection in a variety of sizes, and even does the laundry!
Pioneer From Head to Toe
The sections to the right are designed to help you piece together your pioneer clothes to closely depict 1846 attire at Sutter's Fort. Click on the images to start the slideshow..
Photos are labeled "Period Accurate," "Accurate," and "Semi-Accurate" or close enough. It is up to you how close to authentic you make your period clothing. I encourage as close as possible without spending too much money and becoming overwhelmed.
Some things to keep in mind. The pioneers always worked with what they had. Most of the time they did not have the luxury of matching clothes. Dresses, aprons, and bonnets don't have to match.
White was for undergarments and men's dress shirts. If you are wearing white at the fort your underwear is showing. . . How embarrassing! Please make sure outer garments are colored. With the exception of white aprons.
Have fun putting together your pioneer clothes! They don't have to be expensive or exact. Just close enough to make you feel like an American Pioneer.
When in doubt, remember . . . Women need: a bonnet, long sleeves, long skirt, apron, and leather shoes. Men need: a hat, a button up long sleeve shirt, slacks, and leather shoes/boots.
Have a good time becoming a pioneer!
What To Bring
List of real characters to portray
Helpful Costume Links
Head to Toe Clothing Examples (click on the images):
Head Covering Examples
Neck & Shoulders
Shoulders & Knees