A history of West Sacramento, California

Two large buildings are seen on the opposite side of a river

A view of West Sac from the Sacramento River | Photo by @g_reyes_visions

For folks who are new to the area, there’s one thing that often surprises them: West Sacramento is its own city in an entirely different county. “You mean to tell me East Sac and South Sac are neighborhoods, but West Sac is its own thing,” we can imagine this newcomer to retort.

The simplest reason to explain why there’s a civic divide between two cities that share a name is geographical — in other words, there’s a river that runs through them.

Our story begins several thousand years ago, when the Patwin established villages on the western banks of what we now call the Sacramento River in an area we now refer to as West Sacramento. They flourished off the natural resources from the riverside.

The first European known to settle in the area was Jan Lows de Swart. In 1845, he established a property six miles south of Sacramento River’s confluence with the American River called Rancho Nueva Flandria — a name honoring his home of Flanders. He used it as a salmon fishery, among other things, while living off the river.

More would follow to establish their own communities — like Broderick, the Town of Washington, and Byte — that revolved around fishing from the river and the land’s fertile soil. All while people on the other side of the river often busied themselves with talk of gold.

Over a 100 years after the first settlements were established on the western side of the Sacramento River, the communities were consolidated to form the City of West Sacramento in 1987. It joined Yolo Countyone of California’s original 27 counties — which included other cities west of the river, like Davis and Winters.

Want to learn more about the formation of West Sacramento? Check out “The Roots of a New City.”

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