The following is an excerpt from Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties of California: An Illustrated Description of all the Counties Embraced in this Richly Productive Geographical Subdivision of the Golden State, compiled and edited by Emmett Phillips and John H. Miller, Published under the direction of The Sacramento Valley Exposition, J. A. Filcher, Director-in Chief, January, 1915.
“Sacramento County, situated at the southern end of the great Sacramento Valley, is the fourth in point of wealth and sixth in point of population in California. It is one of the oldest counties in California, having been formed by an act of the first Legislature that assembled in the Golden State. Its early history teems with interest as it records the stirring deeds of the brave pioneers who came here in the days of ’49 seeking fortunes in the mines.
“But we are concerned now more with the present and future of the county than its history. It is a growing and prosperous community, offering special advantages to the home seeker. It possesses soil, climate, water, transportation facilities and markets – the five factors that are essential to the farmer’s success. Its farm products include all deciduous fruits, grapes, berries, nuts, citrus fruits, alfalfa, cereals, stock, poultry and eggs, butter and cheese, etc. It is a county in which large tracts are being subdivided into small farms, and hence, there is plenty of opportunity for the settler to purchase unimproved land.
“Sacramento County has an area of 988 square miles, most of which is farm land. The population of the county in 1910 was 67,806. It is now estimated at 90,000, as there has been a noticeable increase during the past four years. The area is mostly either fertile bottom lands lying along large rivers, or rich alluvial plains. The altitude varies from 30 to 125 feet, the land rising in gentle slopes on the eastern border of the county to meet the lower foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
“Sacramento County has an abundance of water, being supplied by many streams. The Great Sacramento River, which flows the full length of the Valley, from Mt. Shasta to San Francisco Bay, is the western boundary of Sacramento County for a distance of about one hundred miles. The San Joaquin River, the other great waterway of the interior of Northern California, touches the county on the south. The American, the Cosumnes and the Mokelumne, all streams of importance, carrying water the year round, flow across the county. The Sacramento, the San Joaquin and their tributaries through many years of constant flow, have formed the rich delta lands of southern Sacramento County. This delta was once a great area of swamp land, subject to annual overflow, but through expenditure of vast sums of money, has been thoroughly reclaimed by the construction of great dykes, called levees in California, which keep the water from the cultivated fields. The delta, often referred to as the Netherlands of California on account of the similarity of the reclamation work to the dykes of Holland, consists of a number of islands, each of which is surrounded by a navigable waterway.
“No more fertile land is to be found anywhere in the world, not even in the famous Valley of the Nile, than this rich river bottom. Here are produced the vegetables that during certain months of the year supply the principal markets, not only of California but of several States, including Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana. This is also a district of luscious fruits and each year several thousand carloads go forward to Eastern markets from the river districts of Sacramento County alone.
“Equally as rich as the land along the Sacramento River is that along the Cosumnes and American Rivers. Both of these districts are noted for a large variety of products which they produce to perfection. Hops that grow along the Cosumnes River are as fine as any grown in this world and command the highest prices in the market. This district is also noted for its fruit.
“But all the land of Sacramento County is not river bottom land. There are great alluvial plains containing thousands of acres of fertile land suited to the culture of a vast variety of profitable products. Not many years ago these plain lands were all farmed to grain, but during the past few years, as in other sections of the Valley, grain farms have been subdivided and ten and twenty-acre tracts devoted to intensive cultivation have succeeded them. The plains are exceedingly productive when irrigated and this is made easy because of the inexhaustible supply of water that underlies the entire area of Sacramento County. All that is necessary to obtain water is to sink a well from fifteen to forty feet and a flow sufficient for irrigation is obtained. The water is lifted from the well by a pump run by either gasoline engine or an electric motor. Either is inexpensive. The possibilities of irrigating from wells in this county are well illustrated in the Florin district, just south of Sacramento City. This is a great Tokay grape and strawberry district. The only irrigation the plants received besides the natural rainfall, is from the well water. Florin annually ships many carloads of grapes and even more of strawberries to markets beyond the borders of the State.
“Besides the bottom and the plain lands, there is still another class of productive land in Sacramento County. This is the rolling land at the beginning of the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. This rolling land lies north of the American River and is no doubt the most picturesque part of all Sacramento County. It includes the prosperous colonies of Orangevale and Fair Oaks, noted for their production of citrus and semi-tropical fruit. Practically all the oranges grown in Sacramento County come from the pretty groves on the gentle slopes of Orangevale and Fair Oaks. Here, like in all Sacramento Valley counties that grow oranges, the golden fruit ripens from six weeks to two months earlier than that of any other orange growing district in the United States. Olives and almonds are also profitable crops in these colonies and the homes of some of the owners of tracts, as picturesque as any in California, are indicative of prosperity.
“Sacramento City, the county seat and the capital of the State, is situated on the east bank of the Sacramento River, which is navigable the year round as far north as Red Bluff, 150 miles north of Sacramento. It has a population of 75,000 and an assessed valuation of $65,000,000. Several lines of freight and passenger steamers ply between Sacramento and San Francisco and the passenger steamers are floating palaces similar to those on the Hudson River. Two transcontinental steam roads and four interurban electric lines enter Sacramento, which is an industrial city. The main shops of the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific railroads are located here. There are also three great fruit canning institutions and many factories of various kinds.”
Donated by Peggy B. Perazzo