Delta river steamboats navigated the marine highway until World War II

The Real McCoy II is one of two free Delta auto ferries.

The Dover, pulling a barge behind on her hog post.
The Delta King is preserved as a floating museum, hotel and restaurant on the Old Sacramento waterfront.
The Delta King working the Sacramento River about 1935; it was the zenith of luxury river travel from San Francisco to Sacramento!

Who would have thought that Sacramento and San Joaquin River steamboats, active on these marine highways, would ship cargo and passengers from the 1850s right up to World War II?

Yes, hundreds of steam-powered river boats, then diesel-powered, trafficked the Sacramento, from San Francisco to Redding, and the San Joaquin from San Francisco to well above Fresno.  They would haul cargo and passengers for almost 100 years, before trucks, autos and the railroads displaced this great fleet.  World War II signaled the end of the era, when the Delta Queen and Delta King were taken by the US Government for war-time use. 

Today, old river towns, the two mighty rivers, the Delta King, now floating as a hotel, restaurant and theater in Old Sacramento and memories are all that remain of this golden era.

However, two free auto ferries still make two Sacramento Delta crossings, though they don’t have the size nor grandeur of their historic kin.  Watch for this Friday’s blog entry on the Sacramento River Delta, from Walnut Grove to Rio Vista, that traces some of the historic impacts of the Delta to river commerce and the growth of California.

For more info: The Discover the Delta Foundation, 2510 Hwy. 12, Isleton, CA 94561, 916.777.4442,

For additional travel destination inspiration, see my blog: travel; to contact me,  Happy travels in the west!


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