A Brief History of Rio Vista

Located at the tip of Solano County, the community of Rio Vista is one of the oldest in the county.

The original settlement was established in 1858, by History3Col. Nathan H. Davis, and was located at the mouth of Cache Slough, where it meets the Sacramento River, approximately two miles from its present location.

Once established the settlement grew rapidly and fishing became the prime industry. Robert C. Carter and his son established a salmon cannery, which would ship salmon daily to San Francisco and from that point internationally.

During the first couple of years the settlement’s name changed several times, including Los Brazos del Rio, Vista del Rio, Winds End, and eventually the wife of Postmaster Charles Kirkpatrick, re-named it Rio Vista.

In December 1861 the mighty Sacramento River rose, and on January 9, 1862, Rio Vista was destroyed when twelve feet of water covered the settlement. Fortunately, not one life was lost.


However, at this point half of the citizens decided to relocate in developed communities, while the other half liked the area and could see a future if relocated on higher ground. Thus “New” Rio Vista was established at its present location in March 1862.

This “new” settlement, located approximately halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento, soon became a popular stopover for weary travelers, who enjoyed the hospitality of Rio Vista’s hotels, saloons and general merchandise stores.

As more individuals settled in Rio Vista, many of which were immigrants, farming became the way of life rather than fishing. Immigrants from: Germany, Portugal, England, Sweden, Scotland, and Canada, to name but a few. Each educated in their native lands, brought to the community new ideas, which were combined to create fertile crops.History2

Thirty years after the devastating flood of 1862, the community was once again stricken with disaster.

On July 20, 1892 a fire broke out in the rear of the River View Hotel. Within minutes the flames spread eventually destroying almost every structure from Front Street up to Third Street, and from Montezuma Ave. to Sacramento Ave. However the community was strong and quickly decided to rebuild.

After two decades of local debate, it was finally decided, that in the best interest of the community, it was time to incorporate. Thus, the town of Rio Vista held its first election, and the community was officially incorporated on December 30, 1893.

Seventy-five years later, on January 4, 1968 the town of Rio Vista officially became a “City”.

Written by: Phil Pezzaglia