Historic Reclamation Material Published Online

The San Joaquin County Historical Society is pleased to announce the online publication of historic material related to the County's reclamation districts. A full description, posted on the Web site of the Online Archive of California, includes links to the images and can be viewed by clicking here. This long-awaited online collection includes approximately two hundred maps of various kinds, cross sections, elevation profiles, engineer's plans, related textual material, and a variety of other images.

Clearing tule reeds from San Joaquin County swamplands, ca. 1920.

Clearing tule reeds from San Joaquin County swamplands, ca. 1920.

The documents' origins range from 1862, shortly after the California State Government made swamplands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta available for reclamation and settlement, to 1980. The size of the originals varies from tiny fragments of several square inches to folded maps up to twenty-five square feet.

The history of land reclamation in California can be traced to the Swamp Land Act of 1850, federal legislation that authorized the transfer of federal swamplands to private ownership with the provision that they be drained and made productive. Operating at first under the State Board of Swamp Land Commissioners and, starting in 1867, under local boards of supervisors, owners of reclaimed land were authorized to organize special districts to acquire, build, and operate reclamation works, which have included levees, drains, canals, bulkheads, sluices, water gates, embankments, pumping plants, dams, diversion works, irrigation ditches, bridges, and roads.

This online collection offers vivid visual glimpses into how San Joaquin County's reclamation districts drained, developed, and maintained agricultural land under their jurisdiction. Surveyors, reclamation district officials, attorneys, government officials, and ecologists will find it useful, as will anyone else interested in the history of reclamation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

This material complements a collection of forty-one historic county assessor's plat books from 1876 to 1919 previously made available through the Online Archive of California for online viewing. The plat books can be viewed by clicking here.

The San Joaquin County Historical Society has completed this project in partnership with Internet Archive, thanks to funding provided by the South and Central Delta Water Agencies.

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