California Port Cities

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: ° Alameda: ° Berkeley ° Oakland
Contra Costa County: ° Crockett, ° Martinez ° Port Costa
Marin County: ° Point Reyes, ° San Rafael (China Camp), ° Sausalito, ° Tiburon
° Mendocino ° Sacramento
San Francisco (City and County)
Solano: ° Benicia (St. Paul's Church), ° VallejoMare Island
Sonoma: ° Petaluma ° Fort Ross
CENTRAL & SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: ° Long Beach ° Los Angeles ° Monterey County ° San Diego County ° Santa Barbara ° Santa Monica ° The Channel Islands


January 22, 1849, The Republican Compiler, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

More Gold News.

It is stated that Lt. Frisley, of the New York Volunteers, has written home from California that he has accumulated $200,000 in gold dust! The N. Y. Post puts the following question to theWashington Union: Has any member of the Government heard that Lt. Warner was sent out by Gov. Mason to the mining region, with 17 men, provided with mules and equipment, to explore the Sacramento river, and that, at the end of two days, the party returned and handed over to Gov, Mason, as the fruit of the expedition, $880,000?" This exceeds all the gold stories yet; nearly a million of dollars of gold, after nearly two days' hunt; or nearly $50,000 to each man of the party!

Sacramento.J Street, Sacramento.
J Street, Sacramento, California

Letters have been received in New York from Chagres and Panama as late as Jan, 1 The passengers by the John Benson and the Falcon, about 300, all went safely over the Isthmus. The California was expected about Jan. 10. There was no crowd at Panama.

A letter has been received from one of the crew of the whale ship Washington, which ship was deserted by hew crew at Monterey, stating that the "shabbiest sheep" of the crew had $150,000 and many of them more.

In 1850, Sacramento was a city of 10,000 men with almost no women or children, a transient population going to and from the gold mines in the Sierra Nevada. The waterfront on the Sacramento River was a chaotic scene of oxen and mule teams, piles of supplies on the wharf, and abandoned ships whose crews had jumped ship for the goldfields.

From the Correspondence of the Alta California

Sacramento City, March 28, 1849

Winter with its "heavy wet," is about over, and spring, warm, genial, and soothing has opened upon Sacramento.

Prospectors Looking for New Diggings

Gold washing has been carried on during the past winter with varied success. We yesterday were shown a piece of remarkable beauty and purity, weighing eleven ounces and three fourths, for the gold from that stream is generally in large pieces, more generally termed slugs or coarse, but very fine gold, if you please. The borders of the Stanislaus stream form an inexhaustibly rich portion of the placer, though inexhaustible rich portion of the placer, though, because it is at this time "o'er flowing full," the heavier deposits cannot be reached, and labor generally is suspended in consequence.

The Sierra Nevada, as seen from the fort, is overed with snow a sublime feature in the country of Sacramento is the range of mountains. The great body of snow has yet to find the ocean through the various streams flowing to the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, and the waters must remain high until May.

The general health of the mining community, and thriving Sacramento city in particular, remains good, although a number of cases of actual scurvy are reported in the several diggins. An entire absence of vegetable food, and coarse irregular diet, having produced the disease. Two deaths have occurred during the winter. Sacramento city is building up rapidly, and its "manifest destiny" is too perceptible to require comment. Its worn and crumbling Fort Sacramento has been converted into an immense mart and business center, and at the Embarcadero good substantial houses loom up, or great white tents glance among the trees in every direction. Houses are erected about us when the means of building are attainable, and canvass is substituted where not; it is by no means rare to see a frame house shingled with canvass, hereabouts. The printing office of the Placer Times, a little weekly, to be published here, is nearly completed, and the first number will be issued in a few days.

Six Months in the Gold Mines of Northern California.

Among novelties first and foremost, however, comes an application of the diving bell to gold gathering. This is seriously intended and the bell is constructed at this place by the projector, a practical millwright, and who is very sanguine of success. Scuttles and "cradles" will be entirely superceded by this ponderous machine. Companies are forming and making preparations to bring the hidden treasure within human grasp by diverting the course of the streams in many places from their natural channels. It is supposed immense wealth will be realized from the rivers' beds.

In a few days this place will resume its wonted business bustle, when rare times are anticipated.

Goods are plenty here, and the advance upon San Francisco prices is but proportionate with the times.

SACRAMENTO CITY, January 10, 1850

This will be a day never to be forgotten by the residents of Sacramento City as a day that awoke their fears for the safety of their city against the dangers of a flood long since prophesied. I was awakened early on the following morning (the 11th) by the shouting and noise from without, I rose and dressed and went out upon the verandah of the Sutter House, (where I had taken a room) and here I had a clear view of the dangers to be apprehended. Before me, along the, entire length of the levee, I saw with certainty the beginning of a flood.

Long before noon hundreds of boats were crossing every street, far and near, and bearing to the several vessels that lay at the river's bank, women and children, the sick and the feeble; and as they arrived, the owners of the vessels were ready to offer them prompt aid and every comfort in their power; and when they were safely landed upon the decks, the shout of joy went up to heaven in loud cheers from those who landed them, for their safety, and these shouts were echoed back by the hundreds of voices that were in the surrounding boats, and within hearing of the response. During the entire day and until night, this work of humanity and mercy went on. The loss of property must be very great it must be over a million of dollars.

As night approached and the waters continued to increase, great fears were entertained for the buildings that were considered safe until now for the vast body of water that continued to rush in on the levee in front of the city was evidence that but a very few could expect to be above the reach of water in the morning. Measures were now taken to prepare several places where food and lodging could be had, by raising new floors some two and three feet above the former ones; but this could only be done in a few houses, so many being underwater and all cooking apparatus belonging to the many eating houses being completely submerged. Besides this the several "Bakeries' were so deluged that no bread could be had other than hard bread. These places for refreshment were quickly arranged so that the many hundreds that were driven from their homes and could not be accommodated on board the shipping should find food and shelter until they could leave the city or find houses in some place until the waters should subside.

This night (Friday) was one of great anxiety and watchfulness to many; but when morning dawned hopes were entertained that the waters had reached their "ultimatum," for they had advanced but little during the night; this was owing more particularly to the vast back country which gave the rising flood outlet. Previously the obstruction in and around the city in a measure prevented its outlet; now the waters had risen above these obstacles and was spreading far and wide over the vast plains beyond the city.

Far as the eye could reach the scene had now become one of wild and fearful import floating lumber, bales and cases of goods, boxes and barrels, tents and small houses were floating in every direction. The poor and suffering beasts were in a pitiable condition and called forth the sympathy of all, and what could be was done to save them. Hundreds of horses, mules and oxen were wandering about seeking places of security and food. Many, very many must have perished. Some gained places of safety by swimming a mile or more to the high bluff back of the city. It was indeed sad to hear their low and plaintive bellowing, as it told of their approaching death by cold and starvation; some were fed by the warm hearted and humane as they came near to the dwellings, asking by their looks for food.

During all this day (Saturday), there came from time to time new evidences of impending ruin. The rush of the river became more and more rapid, although the rise of its waters seemed to stop for awhile. But the current of rushing waters ran so strong through the various streets, particularly those opposite the levee, viz. J K L and M streets, these being the main business streets; and also the cross streets, by the waters from the Slough above, that Front, 1st 2d 3d and 4th streets, became like rapid rivers so much so, that it was almost impossible for the boatmen to stem the tide, and many boats were upset in trying to navigate these streets, the waters were now so high throughout the entire city, that all business was carried on by the boats.

Sacramento City, 1850, from the foot of J Street.

The result of these rapid currents within those streets, was to undermine the buildings that were considered substantial and safe from danger. As an evidence of the power of thy current, the new and valuable brick building, corner of J and 3d street, built at great cost by the Messrs. Merritt, having walls nearly or quite 18 inches in thickness, was undermined, and fell with a heavy crash, carrying with it the next store, Messrs. Massett & Brewsters, with which it fell into the flood a mass of ruin.

The large iron store on K street, was lifted from its position, carried into the street, and then overthrown, and various others shared the same fate. Some were lifted and were seen moving on in the rapid current soon to become a mass of ruins. Few, very few houses it is to be feared will be able to stand these currents long, none can do so, unless they are secured by permanent foundations and securely fastened.

Among those that I visited in passing through the city, as the sun went down, that had a fair prospect of security, were Messrs. Smith, Bensley & Co. in J street this fine building was still many inches above the flood, on the lower floor, and gave good evidence of having been built with much security, strength and foresight. Messrs. Gelston & Co. also, on the corner of J and Third street, a fine and large warehouse, was apparently very firm, though not so high above ground as the last, the water being several indicia upon the lower floor. A very line and handsome building, built and owned by Messrs. Howard & Bruce, on the corner of J and Fourth street had two or three inches of water upon the lower floor, yet this splendid warehouse was built six feet above the ordinary level of the street this will give some faint idea of the great rise of water in this vicinity.

The City Hotel, where so many of our friends have enjoyed the excellent fare that was always provided by the proprietors, was so completely submerged as to compel the boarders to enter by boats, at the second story, the first being completely under water. The only hotel now left where the many can be attended to, is the new hotel, called the Sutter House, built by S. Brannan, Esq., owned by Messrs. Deewy & Smith, and very recently opened by Mr. Jackson. This hotel is now only just above water, the flood being level with the floors. When this is flooded, there will be no public hotel left in the city, although there are still a very few eating and lodging rooms, struggling manfully against the threatening flood; among these should be named the Sierra Nevada, kept by Mr. McKnight, a most enterprising man, and who was driven from his former house to his present position by the sudden flood; he is now located near the Sutter House.

The scene presented to view from the main top was wild in the extreme a vast lake of waters. Here and there only the tops of a tree, or the clumps of trees, were visible beyond the city for miles in extent, even to Sutter's Fort nought but the rush of waters. Two high bluffs were indeed seen above water, far to the right of the Fort and here was presented a most thrilling sight. The highest point of the bluff was crowned with tents, and from thence, down to the water's edge was seen a dense mass of men, horses and cattle, promiscuously mixed, all seeking safety by a rapid flight from the flood to these mountains of hope.

The Sacramento this morning was still more rapid, and the floating wrecks that swept by only portended greater ruin still. The rush of passengers to the noble steamer Senator, as the morning opened, also told that there were many who were compelled to find a home elsewhere and others, who fled from these scenes of danger and suffering.

As we came down, we could see all along the banks for twenty miles, clustering groups of cattle and deer, gathering upon the highest points of land, hoping to escape the almost certain death that awaited them. Here, too, were seen houses and tents, floating amid the trees and drift, deserted by their occupants.

As near as can be estimated the rise of waters is six feet within the city, and the river has risen twenty-five to thirty feet, The loss of property is very great, taking the all of many. Several merchants are very heavy sufferers, losing in merchandize and buildings and loss of business from ten to thirty thousand dollars each.

A P. S. to a private letter, just received, giving a less gloomy account of the flood, written at 12 P. M. on the 12th inst., says : "The lower floor of the Sutter Hotel is still above water board $8 per day. Boatmen charging from $10 to $15 an hour."

January 16, 1850, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

The Flood at Sacramento!
Immense Destruction of Property!!
Destitute Condition of the Inhabitants!!

From our Extra of January 14

The deplorable catastrophe which has befallen the thriving and populous city of Sacramento, now completely submerged by the waters of the river of that name, can but excite our liveliest sympathies, and we hasten to place the fullest particulars before the public in the shape of an Extra. We have been kindly furnished by a friend with a most graphic account of the flood, containing the most interesting particulars. We are compelled to take many liberties with the early portion of his description, in order to place the more important parts before the public at the earliest possible moment.

September 20, 1851, New York Daily News, New York, New York

The steamboat Benecia, bound up the Sacramento to Colusa, on the 13th, struck a snag when eight miles above the mouth of the Feather river and sunk in about three quarters of an hour.

The city also became a major railroad junction and agricultural hub in the 1800s before it became the center of state government.

Daily Alta California, December 30, 1852, San Francisco

The Protection of Sacramento

MESSRS. EDITORS: -- The discussion in your paper relative to the best mode of protecting the Sacramentans from the periodical overflows of their rivers, induces me to call attention to a fact, or rather facts connected with the past history of that locality, which may be of service to her citizens, by preventing any future outlay of money in erecting inadequate bulwarks against these floods.

Captain Richardson, of Saucelito, states that in the winter of 1825, the water of the Sacramento was ten feet over the back in front of where the city now stands. This gentleman was up the Sacramento river during 1827, two years after, landed at the very spot and saw distinctly the water marks and drift wood on the trees at this height.

The Indians there at the time corroborated this by saying such was the elevation of water two years previous. Gen. Vallejo and other old residents residents of California also confirm such information, well recollecting the memorable deluge of that year, which was general all over the territory. Since that period there have been frequent freshets greater than the one at present, as I am credibly informed.

Sacramento. Alton Pryor.

Believing these reports as to so often occurring, and high rises of the Sacramento and American rivers, I must disagree both with your own opinion, at well at your cor re spoon dent's of last week. "Sacramento," in reference to the moist efficacious plan for protecting the city and rendering it a habitable places.

"Sacramento" is entirely correct in assuming that a levee alone, however high and broad, will not answer the purpose purpose; but certainly advances a most preposterous idea, about building brick houses on wooden stilts the latter to be from fifteen to twenty feet high, if such "frames" are to be raised two feet above high water mark, as "Sacramento" advises, the flood of 1825 requiring such elevation.

Should the people of Sacramento not conclude to move en masse to some neighboring site of great eligibility, I would tender them the same advice gratuitously and unselfishly given in 1850 -- to lay down them or railroads, and bring in dirt and gravel from from outside the city, with which to raise the whole ground on which it it built. This with a greater strengthening and elevating the levee may answer.

Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, March 9, 1853
March 9 1853, Storeships in Sacramento.

December 13, 1854, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Low Fare.

That low fare increases the amount of travel between any given points is a proposition which will not be disputed. The present competition between the steamboat lines from this city to San Francisco has multiplied the number of passengers probably four fold. The boats of both lines are pretty well filled with passengers daily. The price, however, of three dollars in the cabin and one on deck, and three dollars a ton for freight, must fail to produce a sum equal to daily expenses. It would prove for the advantage of the public and proprietors, if rates could be established at a regular figure, say five dollars cabin, half that sum for steerage passage, and five dollars a ton for freight, for these are about the rates which will finally be be adopted. All parties in the end would find themselves better satisfied, and the general good promoted. The present sharp rivalry must produce more or less racing, and that never adds to the security of life.

It has been remarked in our hearing that low fare and freight is rather a disadvantage to Sacramento, as it invites small dealers to go to San Francisco to make their purchases, who otherwise would buy in this market. But are not these influences, as against Sacramento, over estimated!

The Sacramento River. Robert F., Phd Madgic.

A low figure for freights enables the Sacramento merchant to sell his goods at prices reduced in proportion to the rate he pays for shipping from San Francisco, and thus the advantages are balanced with his customers. The country merchant may go to the Bay, but unless he wishes to buy a large bill, he will find himself generally the loser even at present rates. An assortment needed to fill up a stock, would cost fully as much in San Francisco as here, for these reasons. To buy goods low in that market, they must be taken in large quantities. A small buyer of an assortment finds goods as high and often higher, for the amount be wants, in the Bay market than in this.

Mining California, An Ecological History. Andrew C. Isenberg.

Rents there cost more, expenses generally are greater, and merchants are not so well prepared to furnish a customer with every thing he needs as they are in this market. Here they know from experience, exactly what is needed in each interior locality, and furnish themselves accordingly. Most of the leading houses here, have resident partners at the Bay, who expend their entire time in purchasing for this market. They keep posted as to all kind of goods, in price, quality and quantity in market. Their knowledge enables them to buy more advantageously than a merchant who only visits the market once a month. They are advantages so great as to enable the house in Sacramento to job goods to a customer at as low a figure as they could be bought in San Francisco, from a jobbing dealer. The interior merchant also finds readily what he wants, in Sacramento, and in addition a very important consideration his goods are warranted to him. If, says the Sacramento merchant, I sell you an article which proves inferior or injured in anyway, send it back and I will give you a merchantable article and pay all expense. This to a merchant living seventy-five miles from the city, is worth at least three per cent, on the cost of his goods. This guarantee, on small purchases, cannot be given in San Francisco, because the buyer and seller are too far distant from each other.

To illustrate our position, we may state that some few days since an intelligent and experienced merchant personal friend of ours went to San Francisco, and examined the market thoroughly. He found goods higher there than in Sacramento, and came back and paid several thousand dollars for goods in this city, because he said he could buy at lower rates, and get goods that suited him better. He found it for his interest to buy here, as we have no doubt all our interior merchants will, whether freights are high or low.

December 31, 1856, Sacramento Daily Union,
Sacramento, California , U.S.A.

In looking about our wharves the other day, I was forcibly impressed with the change that has taken place in regard to the character of our commerce within two or three years. There are now comparatively few large vessels in our harbor, either from foreign or Eastern domestic ports. In place of these, numerous small ranging from five to fifty tons are to be seen, which are mostly engaged in island commerce. As the productions of the State ore developed, means have to be provided for their transportation, so that the producer may realise from his labor by the exchange of his commodities for others which bis requirements may demand, or for cash.

In order to facilitate this, hundreds of small vessels have found employment. They are generally of light draught, and many of them can penetrate any river, stream or inlet where water can be found to the depth of a foot. They come here loaded with the productions of the farmers with grain, hay, vegetables, wood, charcoal, etc. These, together with some larger vessels that are employed in bringing lumber from the northern part of the State and from Oregon, and some others engaged in trading up and down the coast, make up the bulk of our commerce at this time.

Sacramento's Gold Rush Saloons: El Dorado in a Shot GlassSacramento's Gold Rush Saloons. Special Collections.
Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.
As early as 1839, Sacramento, California, was home to one of the most enduring symbols of the American West: the saloon. From the portability of the Stinking Tent to the Gold Rush favorite El Dorado Gambling Saloon to the venerable Sutter's Fort, Sacramento saloons offered not simply a nip of whiskey and a round of monte but also operated as polling place, museum, political hothouse, vigilante court and site of some of the nineteenth century's worst violence. From librarian James Scott and the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library comes a fascinating history of Sacramento saloons featuring the advent of all types of gaming, the rise of local alcohol production and the color and guile of some of the region's most compelling personalities..

Sacramento River Valley

Sacramento River Valley by Albert Beirstadt.

February 8, 1891, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California
Artist Albert Bierstadt has recently been visiting his old haunts in the Rocky Mountains. He first crossed the plains from the East in 1850, and it was then that he made the first sketches for the paintings of Western scenes which gave him fame. On his latest work, "The Last of the Buffalo," he spent thirty years' time, and made several hundred sketches. The picture was in his mind when he followed the trail to Pike's Peak, thirty-one years ago.

Sacramento Indian with Dogs. Charles Christian Nahl.Charles Christian Nahl Sacramento Indian with Dogs

August 30, 1894, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

A $10,000 Contract to Improve the Sacramento.

Healy & Tibbetts of San Francisco have received a contract from the Government for making an improvement in the Sacramento River, which will undoubtedly be of great importance to the steamers and other craft traveling on those waters. For years the navigation of the Sacramento River as far as the Capital City has been made very didicult by reason of dangerous obstructions at Haycock shoals, ten miles below Sacramento. The river currents have formed a bar at that point, which makes the river impassable except at high water. Under the contract just awarded to Healy & Tibbetts it is proposed to construct wing docks from the shores and cut the bar out. With the aid of the wing docks it is expected that a sufficient current will be created to keep this particular point of the river clear of sand and make the river navigable at all times. The cost of the work will be $10,000, and Healy & Tibbetts expect to begin operations on Monday next under the direction of Major W. H. Heuer of the United States Engineer Corps.

January 7, 1896, The Record-Union, Sacramento, California

The Government Asked to Take Care of the River.
A Bill Prepared by the Anti-Debris Association and Chamber
of Commerce.

Following is a copy of the bill recently prepared for the State Anti-Debris Association and the Chamber of Commerce of this city providing for the restoration of the Sacramento River by the Government to something like its natural condition before navigation was practically ruined by the effects of hydraulic mining. The bill will be introduced by Congressman Johnson:

An Act to Create the Sacramento River Commission, Defining Its Powers and Duties, and Making an Appropriation Therefore:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

Section 1. That a commission is hereby created to be known as the Sacramento River Commission, consisting of three members, to be appointed from the corps of engineers of the United States army, by the President of the United States, by and with the consent of the Senate, and any vacancy that may occur in said commission shall be filled in like manner.

Section 2. The said commission shall organize within thirty days after its appointment by selecting from its members such officers as may be required in the performance of its duties and it may at any time adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with law, to govern its deliberations and acts. No compensation shall be allowed to said memo in addition to what is now allowed to each respectively as an officer of said corps of engineers.

Section 3. It shall be the duty of said commission to prepare and adopt such plan or plans from examinations and surveys already made and from such additional examinations and surveys as it may consider necessary or proper, as will improve the navigability of the Sacramento River and its tributaries comprising the Sacramento River system, and deepen their channels. The said commission shall cause the channel of the said Sacramento River to be deepened over the shallow cobble-stone bars between Mclntosn Landing and Red Bluff, by use of clam-shell or other suitable dredger so that there shall be in dead low-water season a depth of thirty-six inches of water. They shall remove all snags and trees standing on the banks of said river from the head of navigation to its mouth that may be liable to fall into the river channel. They shall close up breaks and crevasses which allow water to escape to the injury of the navigability of the said Sacramento River and its navigable tributaries to the condition and erect any other structure or use any other means that will improve the navigability of said river from the head of navigation to its mouth, and they are hereby authorized to enter into contracts for such materials and work as may be necessary to complete any plan or project that may adopted or approved by said commission for the improvement of the said Sacramento River and its tributaries to be paid for as appropriations may from time to time be made by law, not to exceed in the aggregate. dollars, exclusive of the amount herein and heretofore appropriated. Said commission shall take such means and shall build, construct and preserve such works as may be neces sary to restore, as nearly as practicable; the navigability of said Sacramento River and its navigable tributaries to the condition existing in the year eighteen hundred and sixty.

Section 4. The commission shall submit to the Chief Engineer of the United States army on or before the Ist day of October of each year a report of its work and transactions, witb plans for the construction, completion and pres ervation of the works necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act, to gether with an estimate of the probable expense thereof, stating the amount that can be profitably expended for such purposes each year, and the same shall be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of War.

Section 5. The sum of dollars is hereby appropriated out of any moneys in the treasury, not otherwise appropriated, to be immediately available, and to be expended by said commission for carrying out the objects of this Act and for the construction, completion, repair and preservation of the public works in this Act provided for. Section 6. This Act shall take effect immediately from and after its passage.

The Project

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