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Sutter’s Fort to Present “Hands on History: Frontier Medicine – Sacramento’s First Hospital”

Continuing a popular series of fun and interactive “Hands on History” activities offered each month, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) and Friends of Sutter’s Fort will present a very special “Hands on History: Frontier Medicine – Sacramento’s First Hospital” event on Saturday, August 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fort visitors will be delighted to see the recently completed restoration of the historic exterior walls, gates and blacksmith shop, plus have the opportunity to step back in time to the 1840s to learn more about intriguing frontier medicine.

As background, even before the famous Gold Rush of 1849 that brought tens of thousands of gold seekers to the Sacramento Valley, John Sutter used a medical book and a series of doctors to administer medical care. He also provided hospital facilities at the Fort for the citizens of his New Helvetia settlement and the thousands of Native Americans working on his land and living throughout the Valley.

Shortly after the founding of Sacramento City – the original name of Sacramento – the city’s first hospital, Sacramento Hospital, was established in an adobe structure near the Fort at the current location of Sutter General, which has since been renamed the Ose Adams Medical Pavilion.

As part of the special “Hands on History” event, Fort guests will be treated to demonstrations provided by several physicians and a midwife showing many aspects of 19th century medicine, including dentistry and homeopathic cures. And, as a special guest, Dr. Bob LaPerriere, Curator, SSVMS Museum of Medical History, will deliver interesting presentations about Gold Rush-era medicine at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. that will include intriguing artifacts on display, such as an amputation kit circa 1870, bleeding and cupping implements, tooth extractors, ether mask, wooden splints, early medications and more.

Plus, Fort docents will lead demonstrations where visitors can get involved and participate as “volunteer victims” to learn more about Gold Rush medicine practices. And, of course, demonstrations of black powder weaponry in action will take place, including the crowd-favorite firing of Sutter’s cannon at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

All “Hands on History” activities are included in the cost of admission. Sutter’s Fort SHP admission costs are as follows: $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6 to 17) and free for
children 5 and under. For more information, call 916-445-4422 or visit www.suttersfort.org


About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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