Take a short drive to the Automotive and Science Museums of Old Sacramento


Two museums north and south of Old Sacramento bring new perspective and insights to the half-dozen other museums in Old Sacramento, which preserves days of Sacramento’s Gold Rush history and houses more of 50 historic buildings.

Just south of Old Sacramento, the California Auto Museum, 2200 Front St., draws crowds with a special exhibit featuring a display of 20 vintage and current electric and steam cars. The museum is home to 130 classic and vintage cars ranging from early 1900s brass era cars, 1960s/70s muscle cars, to race cars and notable cars from the last 30 years.

This 1905 Studebaker electric convertible lost out to gasoline cars in the early 1900s.

The special exhibit begins at the dawn of the automotive age in the late 1800s, when American and European manufacturers experimented with electric, steam, and kerosene or gasoline-powered vehicles. Each had advantages and disadvantages.

The Tango electric roadster carries two adults in tandem and at 38 inches wide, two can cruise abreast in a lane.

In 1897, the first motorized taxis in New York were electric; a few years later, more than 1,000 of them roamed the streets of the city. The first hybrid electric car was built in 1899 by Porsche, which built over 300 of these vehicles.

Earlier, in 1886, Karl Benz patented his “vehicle powered by a gasoline engine”, giving rise to gasoline-powered cars. In 1897, Ransom Olds started the Olds Motor Works and introduced the 1901 “curved dash” Oldsmobile Model R automobile, becoming America’s first mass-produced gasoline-powered car.

In the early 1900s, discoveries of oil in the United States led to a boom in power generation – dense, easily transportable, and inexpensive gasoline-powered cars would take the lead. With Henry Ford’s assembly line churning out thousands of Model Ts, by the 1920s half of the cars in America were gasoline-powered cars built by Ford.

The brass water tank helped produce the steam to power this 1914 Stanley Steamer.

Cars of particular interest in the special exhibit are the electric Tesla Plaid Roadster (the world’s fastest production car, from zero to 60 in less than two seconds), an electric 1905 Studebaker, a 1914 Stanley Steamer, the tiny electric Tango from 2004 and a Locomobile steamer from 1901. .

On the northern edge of Old Sac is the new SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity (MOSAC), at 400 Jibboom St., Sacramento. The Museum of Space, Science and Technology occupies the rehabilitated 114-year-old PG&E Power Plant, complete with a restaurant and education center, planetarium, and new open-air park with amphitheater. The venerable California Railroad Museum and the Sacramento History Museum are just a few blocks south.

The MOSAC Curiosity Development Center welcomes visitors to the museum.

MOSAC is a remarkable public-private partnership between the City of Sacramento, SMUD and the Powerhouse Science Center to transform the former powerhouse into a vibrant regional destination. With a modern facility to bring together schools, colleges, universities, museums and other K-12 community resources, create a learning ecosystem for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) and help inspire students to embark on STEAM careers, it appears on its way. Here are some of the special exhibitions designed to reach youth, young adults and families:

Design Challenge Zone: Kids can build a device that soars through a column of air, build the fastest prototype car to race down the track, or make wearable art out of fabrics.

The water challenge; an exhibit that describes and explains the complex network of techniques in a Stork State canals and reservoirs, as well as the challenge of global warming, droughts and floods. This exhibition shows the story of water brought to life and emphasizes the preservation of this natural resource for future generations.

Mosac's Destination Space exhibit lets kids function like astronauts.

Destination space: This exhibition allows you to pilot the Mars Rover and test the propulsion of a rocket from the deck of the International Space Station. It aims to energize children to ask themselves ‘what’s next’, how we can manage water and food to allow humans to thrive in space. Two museum guides suggested that tweens can be entertained for one to several hours, depending on the child. When I get the chance to tour with my 12 year old grandson Jack I will offer an updated report.

For other museums, a good place to start is the Sacramento Museum of History, 101 L St., which offers insight into the early Native American peoples who flourished in the area, years before the arrival of Spanish, European settlers. and Americans. A variety of galleries, with professors dressed in period costumes, offer insight into daily life in the 1880s.

The popular Old Sacramento underground tours take you into the secrets of the basement; Sacramento was prone to regular flooding in the 1800s, eventually the streets were raised to the second story of the building and the street level became the basement; tours explore this ghostly part of Sacramento’s history.

Western Pacific Railroad locomotive 913 delights visitors to the California Railroad Museum.

Just one block away is the California State Railroad, 111 L St., one of the finest and most comprehensive railroad museums in North America. See the famous “Golden Peak” that connected the two segments of the transcontinental rail system, see a 1,000,000-pound steam locomotive, see a beautiful dining car with elaborate Chinese decor, and revel in a Pullman sleeping car who swings.

Take a day or weekend out of Old Sacramento; overnight accommodation is available on the Delta King (historic riverboat built in Stockton in 1927, a floating museum in its own right) and nearby Embassy Suites (next to historic Tower Bridge).

For more information: California Automobile Museum, calautomuseum.org, (916) 442-6802; California State Railroad Museum, californiarailroad.museum, (916) 323-9280; Old Sacramento, oldsacramento.com, (916) 442-7644; Sacramento Museum of History, sachistorymuseum.org, (916) 808-7059; Museum of Science and Curiosity SMUD, (916) 674-5000, visitmosac.org.

Contact TimViall at tvall@msn.com. Good exploration in the west.


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