Steamships continued to be the fastest and easiest form of travel between Sacramento and San Francisco by water. But the rail roads were also doing a great job of transporting people between the population hubs in the state. One of the problems for navigation is that the seasonal runoff from gold mining operations in the Sierras started to fill in the beds of the rivers. That meant there was no room for the seasonal rains to flow, so there were more floods of the islands in the Delta. State and federal authorities put a stop to ecologically damaging hydraulic mining for gold. And then the state came up with a major study and proposal for flood control and water conveyance. This was the Hall plan of 1886. It is very worthwhile to really study these maps.
To see pdfs of the maps below that you can enlarge,
By the 1880’s the names of the Islands in the North Delta were set, but lands in the Central Delta had not yet been reclaimed. Those lands off the San Joaquin River were made of tules with occasional willows or shrubs.
As state and federal agencies started planning for flood control and also water conveyance to other areas of the state, the farmers of the Sacramento River watershed and Delta wanted assurances their riparian water rights would be honored. Ryer Island is surrounded by riparian rivers of the Sacramento watershed, and down the center of Ryer Island is Elkhorn Slough per maps, but the original deeds call it Elk Slough with a Taylor Slough as well.
Transportation in California has always been a big issue. From 1850’s to 1870s steamships, paddle Wheel boats, sail boats and ferrys were the means of transport between San Francisco and the state capital of Sacramento. Dr. Ryer and others got a ferry going between Rio Vista, the largest Delta town, and Ryer Island. In the 1880s there were very few bridges in the Delta, so to get from Island to Island there were many ferrys. By the 1940’s many islands had been connected by bridges. Ryer Island is a very large island with substantial annual crop value, so it continues to be served by two ferrys and a bridge onto Ryer Island at the north, called State Route 84.