Geeks of the Underground

I recently dragged the wifey to a new history geek attraction: Old Sacramento Underground Tours. Turns out, beneath those kitsch saloons and taffy vendors we know today as Old Sacramento, there are a bunch of underground tunnels where the streets used to be before landowners used screw jacks to literally raise the city in the 1860s.

They did it because the Sacramento River kept flooding. So streets, sidewalks and buildings all had to come up about 10 or 15 feet. Some buildings stayed put as the sidewalks rose up around them so, as Mark Twain once observed, pedestrians could literally peer into people’s hotel bedrooms from the sidewalk. Creepy.

For $15 you get an hour-long tour of the tunnels left behind and, at least in our case, a very knowledgeable tour guide to explain all things Sacramentan history. I don’t usually find dirt and flood prevention inspiring but I was actually inspired. It’s a great testament to Sacramento’s time-honored tradition of thumbing its nose at those pesky forces of nature, such as gravity and water.

Best of all, it turns out the very serious show Ghost Adventures even visited Old Sacramento to inspect these very tunnels for evidence of the undead and we were lucky enough to get the same tour guide as Zak, Nick and Aaron.

How much more a part of history can you get?

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