Gold Rush-era skeleton unearthed at Sacramento

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The capital city's ties to the Gold Rush are everywhere, from the historical old town where fortune-seekers arrived on the Sacramento River to Sutter's Fort, where costumed actors recreate the Wild West for schoolchildren.

It was at that fort, just two miles west of the state Capitol, that Swiss explorer Johann Sutter set it all in motion when he built his adobe trading post in 1839 on land that was then Mexican territory.

What remains of the fort is now a state historical site that encompasses just one square city block. It is perched one block from a freeway and is surrounded on all sides by modern city life, including a hospital, restaurants and homes.

Underneath an intersection next to the fort, however, archaeologists said Thursday that they found another piece of the city's, and California's, history: human remains they believe date to the Gold Rush era.

A skeleton, with shreds of "Western-style clothing" still identifiable, was found inside a deteriorating wooden coffin by construction workers who are plowing underground to build a new medical facility.

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