Friday, September 22, 2017

Preston Castle Haunt: The Ultimate Haunted Experience - Fridays & Saturdays, Oct 13-28

IONE, CA:  On the top of the hill just behind downtown Ione rests Preston Castle – one of the last few remaining buildings of California’s first reform school for wayward juveniles known as the Preston School of Industry. Opened in 1894 and decommissioned in 1960, this dramatic building is a haunting reminder of the past. And haunted it surely is, as countless investigators and visitors have come to find out.
But in October we focus on a different kind of haunting as numerous volunteers work hard to transform the castle into the Gold Country’s premiere haunted attraction, the Preston Castle Haunt. This exciting event is the Preston Castle Foundation’s largest and most anticipated fundraiser of the year, and all proceeds raised from this event go towards maintaining and restoring the building and surrounding property.

Started in 2010 almost on a whim, the Halloween Haunt (as it was called back then) was created and operated by just a handful of volunteers. Taking advantage of the inherent spooky atmosphere of the Castle and using borrowed Halloween decorations and costumes, visitors were escorted in groups through the dark hallways and rooms in a small portion of the castle. Guests encountered all manner of scary (and sometimes silly) scenes, from witches and werewolves to clowns and mad scientists.

Over the next few years, the Haunt grew and became more popular. More hallways, rooms, and stairways were opened each year as the building was improved upon, and more and more talented volunteers joined the team of designers, builders, actors, costumers and makeup artists. The theme of the haunt also became focused on the history of the facility, with costumes, set designs and music harkening back to the early 1900’s.

Today, the Preston Castle Haunt is bigger than ever with hundreds of volunteers and experts involved in its creation and execution. We use high tech animatronics, special effects, dynamic lighting, and custom props, set designs and soundscapes to give our visitors the ultimate haunted experience in the spookiest setting around. People travel from all over California and even from other states to experience our unique Haunt. Our objective is to make you scream, laugh and have lots of scary fun… <<insert evil grin and diabolical laughter here>>
Preston Castle Haunt will be open from 7-11pm on October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, rain or shine. Tickets are on sale now at ($25 general admission; $35 for VIP Fast Pass access with a shorter line) in limited quantities each night. NO tickets will be sold at the gate. Food vendors will be on site and Preston Castle merchandise will be on sale, weather permitting. Your ticket purchases go directly towards maintaining and restoring Preston Castle, a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, not into anyone’s pockets. Our Haunt is run entirely by volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer for this year’s Preston Castle Haunt in almost any capacity, go to our “Preston Castle Haunt” Facebook page to find instructions on how to sign up. If you or your company would like to sponsor us with a monetary donation or supplies earmarked specifically for the Haunt, please contact us at
We look forward to scaring you this Halloween season at the Preston Castle Haunt!         
Preston Castle Haunt
$25 General Admission, $35 VIP Fast Pass
Preston Castle, 900 (end of) Palm Drive, Ione, CA, 95640
35 miles southeast of Sacramento, CA off HWY 104 in Ione
Sponsored by Preston Castle Foundation
Fri. and Sat., October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28; 7 to 11 pm
No Refunds or exchanges.
Come and see if you dare!                                                
Gates open at 6:45 pm, scare tours start at 7:00 pm. Admissions are limited for each night, so order early to make sure you can get in.  If available, tickets may be purchased at the gate - cash or credit card only. No Refunds.

About Preston Castle Foundation

The strikingly beautiful Romanesque style Preston Castle, on a hill in Ione, was actually the administration building for the Preston School of Industry, the first major attempt in California at rehabilitating, instead of just impris­­­oning, young offenders.  Opened in 1894, the Preston School of Industry became a leader in the juvenile prison reform movement by giving convicted boys a real chance at life by educating them not only in academics, but in all of the useful trades of the time.  Closed in 1960, when the Preston Youth Authority moved into a new administration building down the hill, the Preston Castle was left to deteriorate due to weather, vandalism, and general neglect.  It now serves as a vacant, but vitally important landmark for Ione, Amador County, and the Motherlode.  It is a California State Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mission of the Preston Castle Foundation is to preserve, rehabilitate, and utilize the historic Preston Castle site.  We are proud of the fact that the State of California has deeded the title for the Castle, four other buildings, and surrounding 13 acres of land, to the Preston Castle Foundation.  This year we are working hard to obtain our own water and sewer connections.  To help raise money for this important project, the Foundation sponsors several fund raising events throughout the year.
In addition to the Castle Haunt, we will be holding a holiday fair/bazaar called Old Tyme Christmas on December 10.
Help Save the Castle and learn more about our history, events, and tours by visiting:  All contributions are tax deductible.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blast from the Past: 1986 Fire at Sierra Seafood and Amador Feed Store

Via Ed Arata:
"We are working on some displays for the new Fire Museum and scanning and reprinting photos. Here are a few from the Sierra Sea Food and Amador Feed Store fire at Sutter Hill on June 15th, 1986.
This would be where Walgreens is today.

Come and see us on the 23rd and 24th at Sutter Creek History Days!"

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sutter Creek Heritage Days - Sept 23 & 24

Sutter Creek Heritage Days
September 23 & 24
Saturday 10am -4pm
Sunday 11am -2pm
Presented By: Sutter Creek Community Benefit Foundation

Take a stroll through Sutter Creek’s colorful past and celebrate its’ historic legacy. Come one, come all as we open the doors for you to visit the past and experience a bit of what it was like to live in Sutter Creek during the Gold Rush! Try your hand at Gold Panning, take a ride on a real Stage Coach, hear historians tell stories of the past and visit Sutter Creeks’ amazing historical sites, some that are rarely open to the public. All this fun and it’s free too!

Then wrap up the day with a “Feast at the Foundry”.  A vintage, gold rush feast with libations, dancing and live music, right outside the Knight Foundry.  All proceeds will go to the restoration of this historic location. Tickets and info at www.wineon

On Sunday morning, start your day off with a family fun “Pancake Breakfast” at the new Sutter Creek Fire Station (350 Hanford Street) from 8am to 11am. Then finish seeing all the sites you missed on Saturday while exploring modern day Sutter Creek, too.

Sutter Creek is known as the “Jewel of the Motherlode” because of the rich veins of gold that were discovered there. During the Gold Rush, thousands flocked there to make their fortune.  Over $160 million dollars in gold ($5 Billion by current standards) was extracted from this region between 1851 and 1942.

Self-Guided Tours:  Maps will be available at all venues….pick one up and start having fun at any location!

"Seldom Told Tales of Sutter Creek": Local Historian Frank Tortorich will do a FREE walking tour on Saturday at 10 am, limited to the first 20 people who arrive. Meet in front of the City Hall/Auditorium.  It will last about an hour to an hour 1/2. Then he will also do a FREE presentation at 1 pm, Sat only, at the Sutter Creek Theater, called "49ers -- How They Got Here".

Gold Panning and the Miners’ Bend Park:  The earliest gold seekers worked the local creek and stream bed with simple gold pans. To celebrate those endeavors, at Miners’ Bend Historic Park, at the South end of town, there will be gold panning demonstrations and everything you need to try your hand at panning to see just how it was done. Then stroll through Miners’ Bend and learn the history of the mines at the south end of Sutter Creek. The early mines of this area are featured on the interpretive signs of the park.

Stage Coach Rides and the Sutter Creek Visitor Center Museum: Stop by 71A Main Street and see the old photos and historic relics. Then catch a free ride on an authentic stage coach, provided by “Doc” Wiser, from 12 – 3pm on Saturday.

The Central Eureka Mine, up the hill from Miners’ Bend, will be on the map for you to visit as a representation of these famous mines. The Old Eureka Mine was first opened in 1852 and it was operated independently until 1924 when it merged with the Central Eureka Mine, the combined properties operated as the Central Eureka Mine, which is credited with producing $36 million dollars in gold!  Hetty Green, the one-time richest woman in the world, was the owner of the Old Eureka Mine.

Sutter Creek’s Original Fire Departments: Sutter Creek’s old firehouse at 18 Main Street is now a Fire Museum and will be open to visitors.  Sutter Creek’s first fire truck is being recreated here in a 1930’s auto workshop, along with the Firemen’s Meeting Hall and other displays. Fire History Volunteers will also be on site at Sutter Creek’s first fire house on Spanish Street and at the fire bell tower on Main Street at City Hall.

Sutter Creek Auditorium and City Hall:  Located at 18 Main Street, this 89 year old building houses locally painted murals depicting Sutter Creek’s colorful history.

Historic Methodist Church: At 14 Main Street, this beautiful church has all the charm of yesteryear, a sight to behold.

The Knight Foundry: Located on Eureka Street, is the last remaining water run foundry in the county. It will be open with the machines running and historians on hand to give you an amazing insight to the production that went on there.

Monteverde General Store museum: Which opened as a country store in 1896, still displays all the paraphernalia of the past on its shelves. A local Historian will be there to tell you its’ history. Right next door is another treasure not to be missed, with floor to ceiling murals of the history of Sutter Creek, painted by local artist Rand Huggett.

Sutter Creek Historic Grammar School: The large, two-story brick building served as a school from 1870 to 1964 and is the second oldest 2 story brick schoolhouse in California. This beautiful schoolhouse is currently being restored by the Sutter Creek Community Benefit Foundation. Take a look at how much they have done and how beautiful it really is.

Ghosts of the Past: Visit the Catholic Cemetery and the City Cemetery. Many locally famous families and settlers found their final resting place there.

Sutter Creek Theater: A former silent film theater, which just turned 100 years old, will be open for you to see FREE movies. This beautiful theater has events every weekend with live music and now showing films too.

Please come join the Sutter Creek Community Benefit Foundation as we celebrate with ”Sutter Creek Heritage Days”! For more information call 209-560-6880 or visit