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About the California Delta

Photos of the California Delta

The California Delta is located roughly between Sacramento on the north and Stockton on the south and encompasses about 1,000 miles of waterways. The main contributing rivers are the Sacramento River, coming in from the north, and the San Joaquin River, coming in from the south. Other rivers feeding into the two major rivers include the American River, the Mokelumne River, the Cosumnes River and the Calaveras River. Before these rivers empty into the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay, they pass through some of the best boating waterways in the country. The California Delta is a labyrinth of sloughs with names like Potato Slough, Whites Slough, Snodgrass Slough, Lost Slough, Georgiana Slough, Steamboat Slough, and many, many more. As one explores these watery avenues, vistas of vine-covered trees, blackberry brambles, and tule grasses appear at almost every turn. There is abundant wildlife, including the great blue heron, egrets, ducks, geese, and, of course, fish. The California Delta truly is a boater's and fisherman's paradise.

Along the way, you'll pass through small towns such as Courtland, Locke, Walnut Grove, Isleton and Rio Vista, to name a few. Courtland is famous for its annual Pear Fair, held on the last Sunday of July every year. The town of Locke celebrates Asian Pacific Heritage Month in May, hosting a weekend party for the public with Lion dances, martial arts demonstrations and more. Isleton hosts the Isleton Cajun Festival (formerly the Crawdad Festival) on Father's Day weekend, and Rio Vista hosts the Bass Festival in October, celebrating the abundant fishing in the California Delta.

Whether by boat or by car, there is plenty to do for all, so come on out and enjoy!

Map of the California Delta

History of the California Delta Levee System

Photos of the California Delta

The Delta was originally populated by the Maidu Indians. Spanish explorers first arrived on the scene in 1772, and were followed by many others, including the trappers who introduced malaria in the early 1800's, resulting in the death of many of the Maidu people. With the discovery of gold in the California foothills, men began to flock to this new world in search of their fortune. At the same time, settlement of the Delta was commencing. These early farmers needed a way to keep their lands from flooding in the spring and winter, and thus began the construction of the levee system which defines the Delta today. A large population of Chinese had come to the area following the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and provided much of the labor to build the levees. The first levees were made from the peat soil of the Delta, which is great for growing crops, but not a very good building material. These early levees were prone to leak and fail, and by the late 1800's, the recently invented clamshell dredge had taken over the building of the levees. This construction lasted for about 40 years, and the maintenance continues to this day.