This marks the site of Sutter's Fort, one of the first major trading posts in post-Spanish, pre-United States California. Though the original fort collapsed, a replica was rebuilt and became a California State Park.
John Sutter was a Swiss immigrant who settled in California during Mexican occupation. Sutter was given a land grant of 49,000 acres, on which he built a fort, mill, and extensive plantation. Sutter secured labor by making deals with local California Indian tribal leaders in exchange for workers and through kidnappings of native women and children. Sutter's fort became a popular way station for pioneers arriving via the Oregon trail - a place to meet, trade, rest, and request aid. Sutter helped the now infamous Donner Party by supplying goods and two California Indian men to rescue parties. Sutter also made a deal with John Marshall to build a mill, supplying labor and goods while Marshall supplied the knowhow. This was where Marshall's workers discovered gold in 1849, sparking the California Gold Rush.
As the Gold Rush petered out, Sutter lost his land and fortune and the fort fell into disrepair. In the 20th century a replica was built on the original site - now in Sacramento, the state capital. A state park was built around the fort, and it is a popular tourist destination.