• The Clarksburg Ferry, shown January 13, 1920, eight years before it sank along the west bank of the Sacramento River at Clarksburg, in Yolo County, Calif.

    Clarksburg Ferry

    The Clarksburg Ferry, shown January 13, 1920, eight years before it sank along the west bank of the Sacramento River at Clarksburg, in Yolo County, Calif.

  • Shown here are parts of the exposed bow-deck from the wrecked Clarksburg Ferry. The Ferry's remains measure 60 feet in length and 24 feet in width, and sits at an approximate 20 degree angle, with its starboard side resting at the foot of the Sacramento River levee and the bow facing downstream.

    Clarksburg Ferry

    Shown here are parts of the exposed bow-deck from the wrecked Clarksburg Ferry. The Ferry's remains measure 60 feet in length and 24 feet in width, and sits at an approximate 20 degree angle, with its starboard side resting at the foot of the...

  • The Board of Supervisors of Yolo County approved the plans and specifications July 22, 1919 from the $9,350 Nunes Brothers bid for constructing the Clarksburg Ferry.

    Clarksburg Ferry

    The Board of Supervisors of Yolo County approved the plans and specifications July 22, 1919 from the $9,350 Nunes Brothers bid for constructing the Clarksburg Ferry.

  • A diver suited in surface supplied air (SSA) dive equipment stands near the downstream end of the submerged Clarksburg Ferry. Maximum water depths at the time of the investigation were 17 feet with the longest dive being 1.5 hours in length.

    Clarksburg Ferry

    A diver suited in surface supplied air (SSA) dive equipment stands near the downstream end of the submerged Clarksburg Ferry. Maximum water depths at the time of the investigation were 17 feet with the longest dive being 1.5 hours in length.

  • Shown are the locations of several objects were recovered from the vessel for preservation and possible display in local institutions, including a ramp winch bracket, rudder shaft, various fasteners and the iron circle form the paddlewheel assembly.

    Clarksburg Ferry

    Shown are the locations of several objects were recovered from the vessel for preservation and possible display in local institutions, including a ramp winch bracket, rudder shaft, various fasteners and the iron circle form the paddlewheel assembly.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Pieces from a sunken ship at a planned levee-erosion repair site along the Sacramento River are nearly stable enough to become a permanent piece of history.

The pieces are the products of six data-recovering dives conducted from Sept. 28 to Oct. 7, 2009, directed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, and part of an intensive underwater investigation of the historic Clarksburg Ferry, which operated along the Sacramento River between Yolo and Sacramento Counties until it sank in 1928.

“It just so happens that this ferry is resting in an area where we need to place a bunch of rock to stabilize the levee,” said Sacramento District archaeologist Nikki Polson. “Because the ferry meets certain criteria, it’s eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.”

The levee repair site is part of the Corps’ and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board’s Sacramento River Bank Protection Project, an ongoing, joint effort to strengthen levees along the Sacramento River. In a lawful intent to balance historical preservation concerns with the needs of federal undertakings, the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act ensures the Sacramento District will attempt to identify and resolve potential conflicts between their Sacramento River Bank Protection Project activities, public interest and historic preservation.

“We recovered enough archaeological data from the Clarksburg mitigation effort to document the existing remains of the ferry with measured drawings, photographs, video, and wood samples,” said Polson. “When we account for our projects’ environmental impacts and what we can do in return to minimize those impacts, sometimes the mitigation of historic resources is to learn as much as we can from something before moving forward with the project.”

The district’s data recovery and mitigation report from December 2010 is currently on file in the California reading room at the Sacramento public library and the Clarksburg branch of the Yolo County library.

Artifacts recovered from the dives and cataloged during the mitigation process have nearly completed a two-year curation process making them stable enough for public display. A possible location to display the remains would be in the Clarksburg branch, but the California State Lands Commission has the final say on the disposition of the artifacts from the historic ferry.

“We’re definitely interested in housing the historic artifacts from the Clarksburg Ferry, but I suppose it would depend on who has the final say and how much room it would take up,” said Becky Frame, Clarksburg library supervisor. “We’re kind of a small operation here, but we do what we can for the public, and we love what we do.”

Loving what they do is a shared sentiment among the people involved with the Clarksburg Ferry data recovery mission.

“I don’t really see myself with a different occupation,” said Polson, who has worked as an archaeologist for over 13 years. “Learning about the past is not only what I love - it's my job.”

The Clarksburg Ferry levee repair site is one of over 70 potential underwater resources identified within a 60-mile stretch of the river, tributaries and sloughs that may have to be further evaluated as part of the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project.

Page last updated Wed July 27th, 2011 at 15:24