Historical Formation of RD 150

Situated in the southeastern corner of Yolo County, Clarksburg is ont he west side of the Sacramento River about fifteen miles south of and across the river from the city of Sacramento. There was no bridge across the Sacrameto River near Clairksburg (until the Freeport Bridge opened in 1929), so Clarksburg area residents depended on ferryboats for river crossings. Clarksburg was also physically isolated from the rest of Yolo County by miles of tule marshes. Clarksburg, Lisbon, and Merritt Island were part of Merritt Township, Yolo County. 


During the second half of the nineteenth century, floods were a serious problem for Clarksburg area residents. They built their homes on high ground and on pilings to protect themselves from rising waters, and some lived in houseboats. Early settlers made their living by fishing, hunting wild ducks and geese, cutting wood, and doing their best to raise crops and cattle in the flood-prone Delta marshland. Roads and bridges were either in terrible condition or non-existent, so through the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Sacramento River was Clarksburg’s main transportation route. Passengers and freight were carried up and down the river on the many riverboats that ran on regular schedules between San Francisco and Red Bluff. Most farm produce left Clarksburg by boat. Elk Slough along the western edge of Merritt Island was also a busy channel for barges.

     In the 1860s the California Legislature passed laws authorizing the formation of reclamation districts, which were to be units of local government organized and financed by the residents of an area to build levees along the rivers to keep the water out, and to build canals in the basins to drain the seepage. In 1870, Merritt Island landowners formed the first reclamation district in Merritt Township, Reclamation District (R.D.) 150, which built eighteen miles of levees, around Merritt Island. 

UCDavis Library; from Holland Land Company Records,