Sacramento Delta Steamboat Slough

In 1848, the year of the gold discovery, the Sacramento Delta’s Steamboat Slough was referred to as the “Middle Fork” of the Sacramento River, winding among several islands that certainly confused pioneer John Sutter, who had spent eight days trying to find the main channel nine years earlier. As the Gold Rush brought thousands into the region, Steamboat Slough became the preferred route over the “old river” because it was more than eight miles shorter and several hours less by steamship. However, due to the silt build-up from hydraulic mining, by the late 1850s the slough was less traveled by the larger steamboats while remaining the preferred route for flat-bottomed boats that stopped at the various landings. Riverboat mishaps and shipwrecks occurred from time to time.  In 1850 local newspapers reported that an unnamed vessel carrying gold bars got stuck on a sandbar where it blew up and burned.  In October 1854 the schooner Bianca lost 80 to 100 tons of cargo near Cache Creek, and in 1862 the paddle-wheeler Nevada sunk at the mouth of Steamboat Slough while engaged in a race with the steamship New World from Rio Vista to Sacramento.


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