The Strange Theaters of the Old, Old West

This is the tale of two grand theaters in Old Sacramento. The physical theater now lies under Old Sacramento in California’s capitol city. The theater of the bizarre was acted out just before the city of Sacramento was raised a few stories in height to prevent the frequently overflowing Sacramento River from washing over the most important part of town.

The “Excelsior” Theatre was the scene of many a wild penny opera and more than a few murderous brawls. One poor soul was whipped to death in full view of a horrified crowd. The whipping was carried out by an itenerant gold prospector who believed that he had been unfairly divested of his gold coins in one of the rigged poker games that went on in the upper rooms of the Excelsior Hotel.

The poor victim was flayed to the bone, but suffered for days before he expired. It later turned out that he had no part in the purloining of anyone’s gold, so the murderer was hanged a few days later.


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