The ground surface is so nearly level that you have no sense of contour. . . . It is not a former lake, although in large part it is a former swamp. Geology characteristically repeats itself around the world and down through time, but---with the possible exceptions of the Chilean Longitudinal Valley and the Dalbandin Trough in Pakistan---the Great Central Valley of California has no counterpart on this planet.

~ John McPhee, Assembling California

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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 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 10:56 AM.