A Look at the Delta through the years and the latest attempt to mess with Nature or Revise the Delta!

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Historic Travel Routes in the Delta and the Name Changes over time 
      The maps, sketches, photos and documents below show the timeline of travel and navigation in California from before statehood in 1850.
You can click (or double-click) on each small thumbnail to see a full size of the graphic; for scaleable versions of some of the maps, go to the pdf section on the right.  For a short video or slide show explaining the importance of some of maps below, see the "Travel history" link.  You might also want to look at the historic maps found in other sections of this website.  Below we focus on the waterways, islands and city names of the travel routes in the Delta:  If a researcher is not aware of the name changes, then locating the written descriptions associated with those locations becomes a problem which results in the researcher publishing or reporting inaccurate historical data.  For example, in 2012 a highly-funded organization published an ecological review of Delta history;  the locations of the descriptions quoted in several instances were wrong.  Perhaps the incorrect data was an accident on the part of the researchers.  Or else the researchers intentionally misplaced the location descriptions to revise the history of the Delta.  Take the time to review Delta history and then you decide....
1840's to 1950's 
maps, sketches and descriptions can be seen by going to the links on the left.  Just a few of the sketches and maps are below on this page.

See also  Current Transportation planning

Maps of Delta name changes from 2004 to current can be seen here:

Names of the key Delta travel waterways 1848 to 2012:
Sacramento River also called "Rio de Sacramento", "Old River" and "Main Stem" of Sacramento River.  The section of "Old River" on the Sacramento ran between Rio Vista and Walnut Grove or up to the northern entrance of Steamboat Slough.  Even as late as the 1910-1920 period official survey maps called the section of the Sacramento River between Walnut Grove to Rio Vista "Old River".

Steamboat Slough also called "Middle Fork", "West Branch", "Sacramento River".  One early map indicates Steamboat Slough started at the fork with Sutter Slough, but all other maps after 1855 & the island modifications that created Ryer Island show the entire length of Steamboat Slough as it is known today.  Bancroft's 7-volume History of California, considered THE authority on California's early history, shows on the official Bancroft map that Steamboat Slough was considered the main travel route, and is referred to in the Bancroft map as "Sacramento River".  this is important to consider when one reads historical descriptions of the Delta, as modern-day researchers have been known to confuse descriptions of "Old River" Sacramento with "Old River" San Joaquin, two very different riverine and aquatic environments.  Oddly, between 2004-2013 some major government agencies and online mapping services have gone back to referring to Steamboat Slough as the Sacramento River.

Sutter Slough location changed several times and was also called Merritt Slough

San Joaquin River had no branches called "Old River" on most official maps and surveys until the 20th century, or designated a short section of what we now refer to as part of the San Joaquin as "Old River".  See the 1906 Survey Maps of the San Joaquin Delta area for a good reference to what the waterway names were consistently know as in that period.

Names of a few North Delta islands 1848 to 2012:
Grand Island was also shown on one early map as Taylor Island (and on some 21st centry Google maps also!)
Ryer Island was shown on early maps as two islands but by 1855 was "Ryer" Island in the same shape as it is today.
Sutter Island was shown on one early map as Schoolcraft Island.
Long Point Island, in the Suisun Marsh area, changed to Kings Island, Ryer Island, (in a different location than the larger Ryer Island), Long Point Island, back to Ryer Island (USGS 1980) and in 2012 back to Long Point Island again.
Names of Delta area cities and towns
Rio Vista was first named ""Suisun City and Newtown just north of it, according to most official maps from 1848-1859 but then was renamed to "Rio Vista" when its location also moved towards the Montezuma low hills.  Modern day "Suisun Ciry" is located in the Suisin marsh area about 1/3 hour drive from the Delta, next to the city of Fairfield.
Walnut Grove
Sacramento was also called Sacramento City, Boston (north of the Feather River) and Sutterville (South of the Feather River and current city of Sacramento. Sutterville  was located north of where we now find the small Delta town of Hood, according to some records.
West Sacramento was first called Washington.

Hood & Freeport were steamship landings that became small towns as well.


"Old River" DID show on the 1869 map-located along the Sacramento River as we know it today.

The 1869 map has a copyright indication in the lower left corner with the date 2002.  Does this mean the map was redrawn in 2002 or that the organization that scanned the map claims a copyright on a map that is more than 100 years old?  Since the 2002 map doesn't quite match the original for 1869, perhaps it is a redraw?
"Old River" in the San Joaquin River area did not show on maps in 1869, even the maps produced by the Tide Land Reclamation Company, owner/claimant of the lands portrayed above.

full size in pdf:

original map  (in jpg in the left box this row)


 Index Summary 
Compiled by Delta citizens and Delta Voices Last Modified :01/15/14 04:34 PM Copyright 2009-2013 ,