The Underground Tunnels of Sacramento
Sacramento, founded in 1850, is the proud state capital of California. It endured a gruff past of death, disaster and was forced to rebuild itself, burying its past failures beneath the current city streets.
Sacramento was once the rough and tumble hub of California’s Gold Rush. It’s tough beginnings saw devastation from fire and disease but most disastrously from flooding. Towards the end of 1861 the largest storm ever to hit California commenced and relentlessly doused Sacramento with rain for three months. By the time January 1862 rolled around the banks of the Sacramento River had broken, leaving the city underwater and thousands of lives lost.
Thirty inches of rain in this short time span left the city underwater for months. In the new year of 1862 boats arrived to evacuate and rescue residents that became trapped in the flood waters. Survivors were ferried to safety past the bodies of fresh corpses and those washed up from Sacramento’s existing cemeteries floating in the river.
The good people of Sacramento were not discouraged by the hard times they had faced since the city’s conception. They endeared, creating a plan to save and protect Sacramento from future devastations. City officials were to change the route of nearby rivers, strengthen levees and raise the city much higher than where it sat almost at sea level.
During the 1860’s and 70’s this plan came to fruition with Sacramento being rebuilt right on top of itself. Most of Sacramento now sits 10 to 25 feet high over its original foundations. This has essentially created a tunnel system right beneath the modern day city. These tunnels are lined with store fronts from past businesses and remnants of original buildings. Although much of the space has since been filled in, many buildings still feature access points behind trap doors to a form of subterranean basement level.
This underground system tells many stories both of Old Sacramento’s history and those of a darker more mysterious nature. With rumors of housing opium dens, brothels, murder sites and evil rituals the tunnels are a place of legends and supposed hauntings.
Spooky Stories From The Sacramento Tunnels
Sinister and creepy tales emanate from the old city of Sacramento lost to the current city lying above it. These dark, cold tunnels sealed off from sunlight, fresh air and the living seem to have trapped dark energy from Sacramento’s turbulent past. This energy is believed responsible for the frequent displays of paranormal activity playing out in Sacramento’s forgotten depths.
Parts of the tunnels are still accessible today. These feature displays of numerous artifacts abandoned and later resumed by archeologists researching the tunnels. It is thought that this unique mix of personal belongings, medical equipment and everyday tools act as trigger objects, spurring on activity from the many spirits trapped beneath the ground.
Countless reports of sensing an unnerving presence nearby has been reported by visitors to the tunnels. Other reports of full body apparitions, disembodied voices, knocks and footsteps, cold spots and shadow figures have been experienced throughout the underground system. These are commonly thought to be the souls of the great flood victims still trapped where they once resided.
Reports of a cowboy apparition are frequent and he is believed responsible for letting off blood curdling laughter and yells at visitors from the tunnel’s dark corners. Another active ghost is that of a Lady in White. She is seen dressed in a flowing white dress and always seems out of reach as she disappears around corners as people approach. Then there is Lucy, a spirit named in the Ghost Adventures investigation of the tunnels. She has reached out to visitors of the tunnels, grabbing them and revealing her name.
This culmination of experiences and the menacing vibe felt in the tunnels have left them notorious amongst the current living in Sacramento. It is told that the homeless community steers clear of seeking shelter in the tunnels due to these very tales. Many business owners have also made the decision to close off entrances to the underground areas of their building in fear of what may lurk beneath.
Visiting The Sacramento Tunnels
The Sacramento underground tunnel system is a dark reminder to the past that shaped Sacramento. Fortunately, parts of this system are still accessible to the public via guided tours and the history enclosed within them has not been lost.
Visitors can book general history or after hours tours through the Sacramento History Museum for a small fee. It is worth checking their website and planning ahead of time as there is an off season where the tours cannot run. Tours begin at the History Museum itself, where a tour guide in character as one of Old Sacramento’s founders will gather their group. After departing the museum the group takes a short walk to enter the underground of the BF Hastings building after having Sacramento’s history and some landmarks on the way explained. After exploring this underground section the group will make its way over to another nearby building’s basement before returning to the museum for the conclusion of the tour.
The tour is short, low impact and covers many interesting facts about Sacramento’s past and how they managed to raise the city. I took the general history tour during the day, which is suitable for all ages, where as the night tour is restricted to 21 years and older. The tour runs through the old part of Sacramento, which is worth exploring on it’s own. It contains lots of stores, eateries and historical markers.
If you enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in other spooky things that lie underground, check out my other post on the Paris Catacombs.
Thanks for reading!