Napa River Fun Facts

Compiled by Francesca Demgen
September 30, 2015

Napa River flows 50 miles from its headwaters on Mt. St. Helena to Vallejo where it joins Carquinez Strait.  The Strait at Carquinez Bridge is 120 feet deep and about a half mile wide. 

  • 426 sq. mi. watershed
  • Tides can reach 17 miles or more upstream to downtown Napa
  • 47 tributary streams, some with Steelhead and Chinook salmon runs
  • Coast Miwok and Patwin hunted, fished and tended plant to grow long rhizomes for basket making along the shores of the river.
  • Admiral David Glasgow Farragut opened Mare Island Naval Shipyard located on the mouth of the River in 1854, where 513 ships were built until it closed April 1, 1996.
  • The southern end of the island was known for the many rattlesnakes that lived there.
  • Cobbles were taken from the Napa River’s bottom and used to construct cobblestone streets in San Francisco.
  • The Pigeon Cote, below, was home to the birds who carried messages from Mare Island to Alameda Naval Air Station until 1904 when the first Tweeters were ousted by the new technology: telegraph

  • In 1983 and back in the 1950s a Southern Pacific train went off the Brazos Bridge into the Napa River.
    (Photo Copyright © Niles Depot Historical Foundation & Tri-City Society of Model Engineers. All Rights Reserved)


  • 1954: Napa River didn’t have walls and Guadalcanal Village had houses.

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