Beyond the river stretches the interminable prairie, where the fields of harvested wheat lie wrapped in slumber; . . . . The light stealing upon the broad shadows, first touches the tops of the prairie wagons. . . . Then, making more and more progress, it shines. . . and at last, in full glory of splendor, brings out the yellow of the cultivated fields and the course brown of the sandy soil.

~ Picturesque America, 1872

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The Voyage of the J.R. McDonald

J.R. McDonald and barge at Skaggs Bridge with crowds of people, June 16, 1911

This digital exhibit explores a unique voyage of the steamer J. R. McDonald through photographs and the shipping manifest of the J.R. McDonaldwhich documents the stops and deliveries made between Stockton and Fresno. In 1911, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce created a Navigation Committee to mobilize government and commercial support for restoring navigation to California’s San Joaquin River. They used a well-publicized riverboat journey of the steamer J. R. McDonald from Stockton to Skaggs Bridge at Kerman to build public interest in the project. The Committee hoped the novelty of a paddlewheel steamboat on the San Joaquin River for the first time in over twenty years would excite public and government interest in their efforts to restore navigation to the river. Although they ultimately failed, their efforts highlight railroad and water conflicts at the turn-of-the-century. Click here to explore The Voyage of the J. R. McDonald.


This exhibit was made possible through the research and writing of Fresno State graduate intern Katy Hogue. 

Last Updated Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 05:36 PM.