Tour tells Old Sac’s haunted history

Michael Stockinger

With autumn already here, and Halloween quickly approaching, the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation, Inc. has already prepared for the season by giving the historic district an autumn facelift.

The foundation has placed scarecrows made of straw and dressed in the clothes of the 1800’s in front of stores, corn stalks tethered to building pillars, and fake spider webs throughout the town.

For the kids, there is a small scarecrow park in the middle of the town, on J Street, displaying various scarecrows dressed in 19th century garb, happy pumpkin cutouts that you stick your face into making you look as if you’re a pumpkin, and hay bales guiding your way through the small park, located between two buildings.

But this happy façade during the day will change on Friday and Saturday nights when the foundations’ Old Sacramento Living History Program, offers its annual Ghost Tours.

“The Ghost Tours are a historical view of some of the things that have happened here,” said Tina Griffiths, an Information Specialist at the Old Sacramento visitor’s center.

On dark autumn nights, these tours are led by candlelight through the historic town and around the old western architecture to where dark, strange, and sad events took place.

Actors portray the characters involved in different stories and events, acting and telling the stories of peculiar happenings, woe, and despair dating back to the Gold Rush era.

“Stories of weird things that have happened here are told, like ghosts and sightings and things like that,” Griffiths said.

The tourists are also led into part of the Old Sacramento underground, which was the original old city before it was raised to prevent it from being flooded by the Sacramento River.

But those who are interested in attending a tour must hurry, reservations are required and there is a maximum of only 30 people per tour.

“The tours are extremely popular,” Griffiths said. “I sell 30 tickets a day on average and the tours are selling out fast.”

“I get calls from people while I’m talking to someone else who wants to reserve a spot on a tour, so if you’re interested you better buy your tickets soon,” Griffiths said.

The tours are $15 per person and last approximately one hour. They are given four times nightly starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit, or call (916) 442-7644.

Michael Stockinger can be reached at [email protected]