Visit Our Delta Legacy Towns
Established in 1915, Locke is the last remaining rural Chinatown in America. After fire destroyed the Walnut Grove Chinatown, a number of Chung-San District people moved to the area and Locke was officially established. Locke is one of the only towns in the United States built entirely by Chinese.
During its heyday from the 1920’s to the 1940’s Locke was an autonomous island of Chinese culture with a permanent population of about 600, including many families, and seasonal farm laborers of about 1000. At one time Locke had four restaurants, a half dozen markets, dry goods stores, five brothels, a post office, two slaughter houses, a flour mill, canneries, shipping wharves, an opera, speakeasies during Prohibition, and five gambling houses.
Locke is the legacy of the extraordinary efforts made by the Chinese in developing agriculture in California. Locke today is much like it was many years ago, though it has burned down twice.
On August 2, 1970, Locke was listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. It is the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese Americans for the Chinese Americans. Its unique charm and genuine authenticity bring many visitors to its streets each year.
The Bartlett Pear Capital of the World, since 1972, Courtland has been home to the annual Pear Fair, which brings as many as 10,000 visitors to town for it's one-day event, always the last Sunday in July.
Courtland was founded in 1872 and named after Courtland Sims, son of James V. Sims, a landowner who opened a steamer landing in town in 1870. It was home to Courtland High School and a number of thriving businesses including a general store, an auto dealership and much more.
Courtland is still surrounded by hundred-year old family orchards and modern vineyards. Its quaint "downtown" is home to Bates Elementary School, the Nonie Wetzel Courtland Branch of the Sacramento Public Library and the general medical practice of Dr. Henry Go, who has been practicing in the same office for over 50 years.
Visit the Courtland Market for lunch or to buy a local bottle of wine or a sandwich or tacos from their lunch counter.
The town of Walnut Grove sits at the heart of the Delta, uniquely spanning both sides of the Sacramento River, and has a vibrant and diverse community. Founded in 1850, it was one of the earliest settlements on the Sacramento River. First served by a ferry which was replaced by a bridge in 1916. Though a segregated town until World War II, Walnut Grove was home to a sizeable Japanese community--in 1914 there were 67 Japanese-owned business in town.
Currently, Walnut Grove has the largest population of the central Delta towns at approximately 1,500 residents, and the diversity in businesses and services reflects that.
Walnut Grove is known for its charming annual 4th of July Parade, put on by the Walnut Grove Fire Department.
Visit Walnut Grove
Boat up to the public dock, enjoy a Gunther's cone or coffee from Mel's Mocha, see distinctive local metal fabrication at Walnut Grove Iron Works or join the locals for a drink at Tony's Place. Venture out of town for a meal at Giusti's or Wimpy's Marina, to stay the Ko-Ket Resort or to view the Sandhill Cranes on Staten Island.
Click here for directions to Walnut Grove.
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The landform known as Bethel Island was created between 1859 and 1870, and named for its first postmaster Franklin Cloud Bethell, it's original postmaster. The second L was later dropped from its name due to religious concerns. A one-lane wooden bridge was built to the island in 1911, but was removed by order of the Army Corps of Engineers, and ordered to be replaced in 1921. In the late 1930s a resort was created by Houston "Jack" Farrar and his wife Blanche, that featured a recreational area for picnics and swimming. Known as Farrar Park, it was the first recreational business on the island. Hunters, fishermen, and boaters began buying property on Bethel Island after World War II. Electricity was first supplied in 1946, and telephone service arrived in 1949. From then on, Bethel Island became an increasingly popular recreation spot. The community calls itself, "The Heart of the Delta."
Visit Bethel Island
A real island community surrounded by over a thousand miles of pristine waterways, Bethel Island is located about an hour from San Francisco or San Jose.
Bethel Island is a place for all seasons and all people. To some it is home and to others a vacation paradise, Bethel Island has something for everyone. Whether vacationing here or joining our community, Bethel Island emits a feeling all its own.
In the surrounding 1,200 miles of waterways, there are secluded beaches, hot fishing spots, peaceful sloughs for water skiing and lovely resorts for boaters to explore. Numerous species of fish abound in the waters around Bethel Island including black bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie, perch, bullhead, as well as the prehistoric sturgeon. A steelhead or two have even been spotted. Water skiing, jet skiing, golf, camping, windsurfing, sailing, motor boating, fishing, bird watching, swimming, sunbathing, hunting, shopping, and dining are just a few of the many enjoyable pastimes that Bethel Island offers.
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Hood acts as a portal to the Delta for visitors coming from I-5, Elk Grove and points east. Established in 1912, Hood was named after the Chief Engineer of the Southern Pacific Railroad, William Hood. The current population of Hood is about 260.
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Isleton was founded in 1874. Around 1875, Chinese and Japanese mass immigration began to Isleton because of the agricultural jobs. Isleton's Main Street was divided into a Chinese District on the West Side and Japanese District on the East Side. These two districts are in the National Register of Historic Places. In the 1940's - 1960's, Filipinos made their home in Isleton working the farmlands.
Isleton has wonderful original character. The Isleton Historical Preservation Board was created to work with building owners to help preserve the history of the historical buildings on Main Street. The Isleton Brannan-Andrus Historical Society received phase one grant monies to restore the Bing Kong Tong Building which was a community, worship and school center for the Chinese in the late 1800’s. The 2nd phase is in process of being completed which will be the Isleton Museum.
Now with a population of about 800, at one time, its Chinese section alone had over 1,500 residents. Fishing, camping, historic tours, farming, wine tasting and bike riding are some of the area's popular activities.
While the famous Crawdad Festival is currently on hiatus, many Californians have fond memories of their visits to Isleton for previous festivals. Instead, join the annual Isleton Spam Festival.
When driving to or past Isleton, be sure to detour onto Main Street to visit the variety of businesses there, just a block away from and parallel to Highway 160. New and favorite hightlights include the Meh Wai Beer Room with lots of beers on tap, Rogelio's Dine & Sleep Inn for Italian/Chinese/Mexican food and The Joint for pizza.
Click here for directions to Isleton.
The quiet, charming town of Clarksburg is home to about 400 residents, many of whom descend from the original founders and farmers in the area.
Merritt Island was first drained and cleared in the 1850s and the first farms were established. The post office of "Clarksburgh", changed to Clarksburg in 1893, was opened in 1876.
Built around central schools, churches, a library and market, the town of Clarksburg serves up a slice of Americana, particularly during its annual 4th of July Parade.
The climate in Clarksburg is ideal for wine grape growing and the appelation boasts over 35 varieties and over 7,000 acres under cultivation. The Clarksburg AVA is committed to fostering sustainable growth.
Knightsen was founded in 1898 and is located in Contra Costa County, California. The Town is unincorporated and covers several square miles of farm and ranch land. Two sides of Knightsen are bordered by waterways of the California Delta and has a population over a thousand residents.
Click here for directions to Knightsen.
Freeport marks the "Gateway to the Delta" and is just 7.5 miles south of Downtown Sacramento.
Freeport was founded in 1862 as a tax-free port serving Sacramento, hence the name "Freeport". The town boomed as its population boasted nearly 400 residents. Now, with a population closer to 40, Freeport mainly consists of businesses that cater to fishermen and other visitors to the Delta.
Bait shops abound in Freeport, including the original Freeport Market. The Freeport Bar & Grill is a favorite among Sacramentans, and the new Freeport Wine Country Inn caters to diners as well as overnight guests.
Click here for directions to Freeport.
Rio Vista is the largest of the towns along the Sacramento River south of Sacramento. Located at the tip of Solano County, the current town is located about two miles from the original settlement location and about halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento.
Founded in 1862, the town of Rio Vista became a city in 1968. It now boasts:
1 Post Office
3 Gas Stations
2 Car Dealers
1 Hardware Store
1 Grocery Store
1 Liquor Store
1 Video/DVD Rental
1 Car Wash Several Churches
Multiple Restaurants & Specialty Shops
1 Traffic Light.
Visit Rio Vista
Visitors to Rio Vista will enjoy strolling downtown and patronizing its unique local businesses. Foster's Bighorn has been the highlight of any visit to Rio Vista for decades. The Point restaurant affords a view across the river. Fool Crow carries an assortment of artful oddities.
The Delta Farmer's Market is also a highlight, located at the intersection of Highway 12 and Highway 160 on the east side of the Rio Vista bridge.
Click here for directions to Rio Vista.
The town of Ryde was founded in 1892, named after the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It sits at the junction of Highways 160 and 220 and has a U.S. post office.
For more than a century, visitors to Ryde have enjoyed staying and dining at the Ryde Hotel.
Click here for directions to Ryde.
CalEXPLORnia has an interesting article on the Ryde Hotel.