Race of Races and Gone are the Days"
In 1938 the last
great steamboat race took place on the Sacramento
River. It was all part of Sacramento's Golden
Empire Celebration. A sixteen-mile race…
churning the water and hell bent for victory.
It was the Paddle Wheelers - Port of Stockton
vs. the Delta Queen, a race to be remembered!
Gone are the days
of the great paddle wheelers and steamboats that
once drew excitement in the likeness of Tom Sawyer
and Huck Finn.. "Hey, everybody… Steamboat's
a-comin'!" Like Hannibal, that was also Isleton,
California... a place that reads time, like a
Through the evolution
of time, Isleton changed in many ways. Once a
thriving town on the Sacramento River (rather
sizable in its day), commerce and trade used the
waterways as a primary source of transport. Argonauts
journeyed from San Francisco up the Sacramento
River, bound for the Mother Lode country in search
of the Elephant (gold). As people flooded into
this new hard land, the need for commodities of
fruits and vegetables provided others an opportunity
through cultivating the rich land of the Delta.
Improving the waterways
for deeper channels that would permit year round
travel brought about levee construction. Labor
was in big demand for projects while many chose
to chip away at the hard rock mining and/or working
the many streams for gold. With high demands and
few to work, it did not take long for the word
to spread across the waters that there were great
opportunities and new beginnings in a land called
San Francisco was seeing multitudes of ships with
people of all distinction, race and culture. With
the greater abundance of labor and trades, towns
sprang up as if "overnight." One such
town was Isleton, and not long after construction
began, farming and cultivating was in full swing.
was labor for the levee building and dock work,
much of which was done by the Chinese who settled
and built colonies within existing towns (such
Whole towns were
a true mixture of culture and architecture and
beliefs and politics. The evolution of time, however,
has downsized the growth. Roads and gas engine
vehicles replaced the great boats of yesteryear.
But on rare occasion, one can still hear the phantom
whistle of a large stern paddle wheeler and the
yell of an excitable boy, "steam boat's a-comin'!"
Gone are the days,
but not forgotten. Remnants of a bygone era, along
with 840 residents are what remain of Isleton
today. Although time has diminished the population
to a short few, the antiquity of what was still
remains. Chinatown, and the many façade
front buildings, still remains intact. The very
appeal of a bygone era still reminds residents
and visitors of what was once referred to as "the
Little Paris of the Delta." Many cultures
still inhabit Isleton today as they did then.
It is quaint and small compared to so many other
towns or cities. But somehow, it continues to
survive the beating of time and evolution, a survival
sonnet to be sure.