60 years ago

Freeway extension seen as delayed for years: Although need of extending the county freeway from its present terminal in Antioch to the San Joaquin County line and eventually to Stockton is recognized, lack of available highway funds may delay it for years.

This was explained to a meeting of about 60 Diablo Valley residents in Oakley on Tuesday.

Other county projects, including an overpass at Orinda, have priority, according to Joseph L. Judson of Pittsburg, chairman of the Contra Costa Development Association's highway committee.

R.A. "Dutch" Derr, secretary-manager of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce, also spoke and told of the interest of that area in the project. Ben Peterson, Ray Soggin, Roy Bartheld and Mrs. Pauline Howard attended from Brentwood, and Bethel Island was represented.

25 years ago

Ferries big part of Delta history: There is no official count of the number of ferries that once ran between the islands of the Delta, but those that remain can be counted on one hand.

The ferries provided farmers, residents, landowners and ranchers with their only means of transport to their homes and fields. As more bridges were built, the need for ferry service dwindled. There are now only five state- or county-operated ferries left in the waterways from Isleton to Stockton. The early wooden ferries were often pulled across the rivers and sloughs by mule. Cables held them on their course.

As years passed, wooden ferries gave way to metal, and some of them are still guided by cables.

Phil Spenser has been the ferry tender of the cable ferry J-Mack at Steamboat Slough for five years. He said, "A ferry has been in this spot for about 140 years. First it was pulled by mules, then it was gas powered. The diesel one was put in in 1969."

Carl Watts is the ferry tender for the Real McCoy. He said, "The majority of the people who use this ferry live and work around here, but a lot of people come out just to go for a nice ride on the ferry."

-- Brentwood News files

Watts said people often ask how much it will cost to ride the ferry. "They are pleasantly surprised to learn there is no charge or toll for government-operated ferries.

-- Brentwood News files