Bartley Cavanaugh dedicated his life to city government and it is only fitting that the Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course is named in his honor.
Bart Cavanaugh was the city manager for Sacramento for 18 years, from 1946 to 1964. Born and raised in Sacramento, he dedicated his life to the city that he loved.
According to his obituary, written by Ed Delan for the Sacramento Bee, “His domination was such that those who might not know the name of the mayor knew the name of the Sacramento city manager. When city streets flooded, he would be out at 2 or 3 in the morning helping unplug the gutters. But, he also was an intimate of governors and one of the closest friends of the late chief justice of the United States, Earl Warren.”
His integrity was legendary. He worked hard to close the doors to prostitution and gambling in the city. One night, when an attempted bribe was made with a case of whiskey and $3000 left on his doorstep, Bart turned the alcohol and cash over to the district attorney.
He had many political friends that he had initially established while working as an unofficial lobbyist for the Calaveras Cement Co. He knew how to use those friends to help the city once he joined city government. At one point, the city wanted to acquire some property for the city’s water plant on the American River. An agreement was reached where the state would make the purchase and resell the land to the city. According to E. A. Fairbairn, the man who succeeded Cavanaugh as city manager, the state asked for twice the purchase price when it came time for the city to get the land. This happened during the time where the state was trying to develop Sacramento State University. “That started a period that every time the state would ask consideration of the city in connection with developing the college it wouldn’t be told no, but it would never get a yes. Finally, some of his friends in the Legislature called and Bart told them what was going on. All of the sudden he got a call from the state saying it had reconsidered and he could have the land for what they paid for it. He went behind the scenes to get things done.”
He was known as hard-working, honest, and fair with a tough outer shell but a heart of gold. During his last ten year as city manager, the population in Sacramento grew from 100,000 to 250,000 people. His father, also Bartley Cavanaugh, once lived on a farm that is now William Land Park.
Bartley Cavanaugh Golf Course is the youngest of the City of Sacramento golf courses and the 18-hole course opened in 1995. Located at 8301 Freeport Blvd, the course was built as a links course and runs alongside the Sacramento River. Visit the course website at https://www.bartleycavanaugh.com/