John Sutter, a Swiss-German immigrant, set out West to make his fortune. Arriving in 1839, he built this fort, and developed the agricultural assets of the Central Valley, including grapes and wheat. The fort flourished until the 1850s when gold was discovered in California and his workers all but abandoned him. Lovingly restored by the Native Sons of the American West, Sutter’s Fort stands as the oldest restored fort in the country, donated to the state in 1947. A fascinating pioneer museum that commemorates the struggle of the early settlers to the State, its exhibits include Gold Rush memorabilia. Most significant are mementos from one of the few survivors of the tragic Donner party who perished in the bitter cold of winter as they journeyed overland through the Sierras.