Old Sacramento Underground Tours
Meet the Guides
Our amazing Old Sacramento Underground Tour guides come from many walks of life. Consisting of students, teachers, actors, and other local professionals, this dedicated group ensures that each visitor is treated to a unique and memorable experience. Some of our guides even portray characters true to the historic period!
Steve (Sheriff George Lee)
Steve has lived almost his entire life in the Sacramento area. He loves visiting the many fascinating historical sites that Sacramento and the surrounding area have to offer. Being so close to Sacramento’s rich history as a tour guide is a dream come true for him. When not leading tours, Steve takes to the great outdoors and enjoys open water swimming and running. He has two Alcatraz crossing swims under his belt!
When leading tours in character, Steve portrays George "Tight Knot" Lee, a lawman from the east who, like so many others, was lured to Sacramento City by the promise of easy pickings in the gold fields. After arriving in Sacramento City in 1850, George realized that he was better suited for law enforcement than mining. He joined the ranks of the new Sheriff’s department, and has been working to enforce the law and provide order for Sacramento ever since. In the early days, the unlucky few who strayed from the law bestowed upon him the nickname “Tight Knot,” for George was known for his swift justice. He enjoys the authority that comes with his job, and is quite proud of the role he has played in the growth of the crowded, rapidly changing city. Now that Sacramento’s streets are being raised, George makes sure that property owners are working quickly to get the job done. If they’re not, a hefty fine, or worse - a cold cell - could await them!
A native Sacramentan, Jane loves history - especially when ghosts are involved! Jane teaches 7th grade Language Arts and History at California Middle School. She has been married for 18 years and has two children. Jane has always loved Old Sacramento and was a member of the Railroad Museum for a number of years.
Ted was born in Ohio but has lived in Sacramento for a number of years. He recently earned a teaching credential at Sacramento State University and is a huge fan of the “Old West.” Before wanting to play centerfield and bat cleanup for the Cleveland Indians, his life dream was to be a gunfighter! Legend has it he has pretty quick draw. He has been married to Jane C. for 18 years and they have two children.
Kelly is a professional actress, history student and teacher. She holds amaster's degree in History from Sacramento State University and is thrilled to begin a teaching position at a local high school this Fall.
A transplant from Missouri and die-hard St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, Ellen likes to joke that she followed the path of the pony express riders to Sacramento using a slightly different form of “horsepower”. Originally hoping that life on the West Coast would help her fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a contestant on Jeopardy!, she now fully appreciates everything her adopted home offers, including a mild climate with no snow to shovel.
Growing up with relatives fond of telling tales of family, local and even world history, she is thrilled at the opportunity to continue this tradition of sharing history with others through the Underground Tours. Ellen also welcomes inquiries from her tour guests, as she considers all history questions great practice for Jeopardy!. (That’s right, she’ll take “Gold Rush Days” for $500, Alex!)
Jane H. (Miss Odessa)
Jane is an actress, art teacher, mother, wife, and story teller.
When leading in character Jane is Odessa Jane Slate Douglas Quesenberry, born Odessa Jane Beardsley of the Richmond Beardsley’s on July 4, 1811 in Richmond Virginia.
Odessa was the only child of Margaret Opal Pierce and Woodrow Velt Beardsley. Her father, an important banker, was 58 years old when his daughter was born and he took great pleasure in dotting on little "Dessie.” Her mother, fearful that her daughter’s out spoken nature would limit her matrimonial options, worried and fussed constantly. As she grew into womanhood her mother’s concerns soon proved to be unnecessary. Odessa married three times but sadly has buried four husbands. She is quoted as saying, “I married the first time with my heart, the second time with my spirit and the third with my mind. If only God had seen it fit to put all of these traits into one mortal my life's journey would have been very different." She arrived in Sacramento City on the steamboat George Washington from San Francisco on Aug 16, 1849 at the age of 38, widowed once more, vowing never to marry again. It didn’t take her long to establish herself as woman of independent means and independent thought. Her gifts as a match maker are only surpassed by her love of a “juicy bit of news.” She has seen the comings and goings of this vibrant city and feels that it is her historic obligation to share her knowledge with others. She is currently recording her observations in a book tentatively titled “Sacramento City Observations and mostly True Stories.” Sure to be a best seller!
Dennis is a Training Officer at California Department of Social Services.
When leading in character, Dennis is imaginatively named Dennis. Born in Pittsburgh in 1821, Dennis trained as a millwright at the Three Rivers Iron Works. When word of the gold reached Pennsylvania he and two friends rode the rails to Cincinnati, rafted down to New Orleans, got across the isthmus, and on to California. When the diggings didn't "pan out,” his partners returned to the East. Dennis stayed on trying a hand at farming, distilling, gambling, carpentry, and anything else that paid hard coin. When the Union Iron Works opened in Sacramento in 1860, he found a new calling. At the Iron Works, Dennis moves, sets, and maintains the steam engine, trip hammers, and casting tables. Much of the work is for the railroads, but there's also a good market for iron columns and other frippery owners are putting on their newly raised buildings - including the columns in Pioneer Park. His proudest achievement is to be one of the 19 men (so far) to shoot Henry Caufield.
Laura (Madame Lucinda Lanos)
Laura is an elementary school teacher, wife, and mother of two.
When leading in character, Laura is Madame Lucinda Lanos. Madame Lanos is a respectable business owner in Sacramento City. She enjoys using her husband's French heritage to tout the fashionable nature of her millinery shop. Much to her dismay, she is known throughout Sacramento for not only her great sense of style, but also for bearing the responsibility of the Great Conflagration of 1852, whose flames decimated 55 city blocks. Even still, her refined nature and high-quality fashions kept her in business and the good graces of her customers until the great floods of 1861-62 wiped her out for good. Madame Lanos is hopeful that the raising of the streets will allow her business to flourish once more, never again threatened by the fearsome flames and flood water of earlier days.
Shawn (Michael Kearney)
Shawn is an illustrator.
When leading in character, Shawn portrays Michael Kearney, a merchant’s clerk from Kilfenora, County Clare, Ireland. His family fled the potato famine when he was a lad and settled in Boston. With too many mouths to feed and an indifferent father, Michael set off for the Gold Rush with his older brother, Thomas, on a steamer bound from New York around the Horn for California. After arriving in San Francisco, the Kearney brothers embarked on a journey up the Sacramento River to Sacramento City. Like so many others, Michael failed at mining (being unused to hard work) and decided to wander back to Sacramento and seek his leisure. Though never rich as a clerk, nor is he tied down to a job. That gives him plenty of time to indulge his fascination in the technology used to raise Sacramento’s streets and buildings. Never to help with the hard work, of course; just to get close enough for a good look.
Shawn (Sam Brannan)
Shawn also portrays the character of Sam Brannan. Sam Brannan built this city, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. An elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, Sam led a shipload of fellow Mormons from New York to California scouting for a possible church headquarters. Instead the discovery of gold presented the opportunity he’d been training for his whole life: To launch the Gold Rush and profit by hook or crook from the incoming humanity. Despite sparking San Francisco and Sacramento into cityhood, and starting the subdivision of Los Angeles, Sam is largely lost to history — a small matter he is eager to put right.