Start Your Visit WithHistorical Timelines
General Interest Maps
John Augustus Sutter was born in Europe to Swiss-German parents in 1803. Sutter immigrated to America. In 1839 he received a 48,000-acre land grant in the Sacramento Valley from the Mexican government. It was here he built an empire known as New Helvetia (New Switzerland.) The walls were 2 1/2 feet thick and 15 to 18 feet high, and he developed flourishing crops, such as grapes and wheat.
Sutter aligned himself with the Mexican authorities, at one point, with his various land grants; Sutter owned more than 150,000 acres of the Central Valley. He was known as a generous host that word traveled quickly and his fort became a destination to people immigrating to California. He hosted such colorful and historically important characters as John C. Fremont and Kit Carson as well.
In 1848, a carpenter working for Sutter, discovered gold at the sawmill Sutter was having built in Coloma, on the American River. Before the mill could be finished, word of the discovery was out. Less than a decade after they were established, Sutter’s properties were overrun by gold seekers and the fort is all that remains of New Helvetia.
The Native Sons of the Golden West were influential in the restoration of the Fort which began in 1891 and was completed in 1893. With the Fort being donated to the State of California, it became a part of the California State Park System in 1947. Sutter's Fort stands as the oldest restored Fort in the United States.
Today, the Fort is furnished and reconstructed to reflect its 1846 appearance, and is open for self guided tours.
Graphic - Sutter's Fort (30k)
... between Sutter's Fort and the state historic park on the fort's location: The fort was 428 by 178 feet with 18-foot walls. The park is 320 by 129 feet with 15-foot walls. The fort's east wall was 129 feet long. The park's is 137 feet long. At ...
Coloma: Sutter’s Mill
Coloma Sutter’s Mill Sutter’s Mill is a faithful replica of the original, built with Marshall’s own drawings and an early day photo as reference. Those responsible for re-creating the sawmill include the El Dorado County Historical Society, the ...