Note: The historical essay written in 1894 by Gerda Peterson is available in the member only section. Gerda wrote it at age 16 as a school assignment at St. Gertrude’s Academy in Rio Vista. It was submitted by her great-grandaughter and charter member of our society, Judy Gates.
Rio Vista history dates back to 1844 when General John Bidwell petitioned for a land grant from the Mexican Government. The 17,752 acre parcel in California became part of the United States Government in 1848. The area was divided into lots and Colonel N. H. Davis purchased several lots to build a town. The first building was built around 1857.
Since this settlement was erected on the Sacramento River, it was subject to bearing the brunt of fluctuating water levels and it completely washed out during the winter of 1862. No loss of life from the flood but the 150 residents moved to higher ground and rebuilt where it remains today.
New Rio Vista
Several months before Rio Vista incorporated as a city, in December of 1893, the downtown burned. It destroyed most of the buildings in that area but the community was quickly rebuilt. As the city grew, agriculture replaced fishing. However, fishing along the bank of the Sacramento River is still popular.
Rio Vista Bridge 2020
Today, Rio Vista has a census of around 9,000 and still gives off the air of a small fishing village. It is located on the main shipping channel reaching from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento and is situated halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. It sits atop the largest dry gas reserve in California. It has a wonderful museum with lots of historical exhibits and many original homes to see.
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