Wildcat Creek Landuse History 1850-1900: Agricultural Landscape

Impact Map — 1850-1900

Watershed View — ca. 1900

By 1900, further changes in the Watershed are evident. Beginning at the Bay outlet of Wildcat Creek, we see a sequence of adjustments. The deepwater channel through the mudflats has shifted and is now directed away from the Potrero, between an expanded marsh island and the accreting front edge of the small remnant marsh. In a successful attempt to extend his title from the Alluvial Plain to the Potrero, a local resident has constructed levees around the perimeter of the marshland. The levees significantly reduce tidal flow to the marsh, drying up the narrow point between the Potrero and the mainland.

Most of the wider sloughs in the remaining marsh have filled in, indicating the effects of reduced tidal prism, increased sediment load from the Watershed, and hydraulic mining debris from the Sierra Nevada. The Creek's route through the marsh has been diverted to a more direct connection to Castro Slough near the landing, perhaps to help keep the slough open. The lower reach of the Creek has avulsed alternate channels and a straighter mainstem channel, probably as a result of increased sediment supply. The bulge of sediment at the bottom of the alluvial fan has continued to expand. Most dramatically, by 1895, San Pablo Creek has abandoned the meanders connecting it to Wildcat Creek and now flows directly into San Pablo Bay; 50 acres of willows have rapidly re-colonized the vicinity of the former channel. With the reduction of tidal prism, the riparian corridor along Wildcat Creek has rapidly extended nearly a mile downstream.

On the Alluvial Plain, farming has replaced grazing in many areas, especially along the Creek. San Pablo City Hall is located near the original adobe, and the first two railroad bridges have been built.

In the Canyon, brush and woodland have generally continued to expand, but on the west side brush has rapidly decreased by removal of dairy cattle and increased landslide activity. More roads lead to the Canyon and along parts of the Creek, but there are substantial gaps where no direct road is available. Good trout fishing on Wildcat Creek is noted in the national 1877 Sportsman's Gazetteer.