The Sacramento Delta Region
Before the settlers arrived in the 1940s, the Delta was a vast marshland through which run off water from the Sierra Nevada mountain range flowed to the sea. Much of the land is below sea level, so this natural water flow and its mineral deposit made delta soils some of the richest in the world.
When Gold was discovered in the Sierra foothills, thousands flocked to the area in the late 1940s, and many discovered gold of a different color; rich farmland with plenty of water supply from the mountains that could support many varieties of field and orchard crops. But annual flooding proved to be problematic, so the first levees were built by laborers in the 1850s to try and re-route water run off from the mountains around the land giving way to year round crop production. When the steam dredge came upon the scene in the 1870’s, cost of levee construction was dramatically reduced, so construction dramatically increased and the labyrinth of Delta levee systems took form.
Today, the Delta is about 738,000 acres interlaced with hundreds of miles of waterways. More than 1,000 miles of levees guide fresh water to the sea. The land and waterways of the Delta support agriculture, communities, and recreation as well as providing essential habitat for fish and wildlife like the many stopping areas for migratory waterfowl along the pacific flyway.
The Delta is home to small towns along the river, as well as large cities and many recreational communities. Many residents have discovered the unique and peaceful lifestyle the Delta offers after visiting, recreating or just passing through this unique, beautiful land. It will always remain one of California’s treasures.