Fire down below

It could be claimed that what is below ground in Sacramento may be more interesting than what is above.

No, we’re not talking about the plain government architecture or the lack of fine-dining choices aboveground, or even the cooler temperatures found below. It’s ghostly stories that we’re referring to, and they abound underground.

We first dove down into the ethereal when we descended into the catacombs of Sacramento’s underground city, those tunnels and sidewalks beneath the streets (see “The past below”; SN&R Cover; July 17, 2003). Staff writer Cosmo Garvin found that when city leaders literally jacked up the city 150 years ago to avoid flooding, they left a small town full of history below. And apparently, some apparitions were roaming around down there. The most famous being Gertie the ghost; dressed in dark Victorian garb, she continues to haunt a basement on K Street. Or so they say.

Unfortunately, current city leaders have ignored this rich vein of hyperbole and history and haven’t thought to put it on display for tourists and history buffs.

The march of modernism and its paving over of history also have concerned historians and former residents of Rancho Murieta who believe that a group of tract homes was put up on the location of a cemetery (see “What lies beneath”; SN&R Cover; December 2, 2004). So, a four-bedroom stucco with a pool sits where a pioneer grandmother used to lie. Now that’s indignity.

But for a more recent indignity toward the very first inhabitants, we point you toward our cover story this week (“Grave development”). It is the apparent disrespect for history and ancestors, and the current drooling over new development, that is causing one American Indian man to fume. He sees indifference toward the burial of his ancestors as an ongoing problem.

Why is he so hot? Imagine if they dug up the remains of someone in your family with a backhoe, and then you might empathize.