Text Box: The Riverboat “Sutter”

In 1925 two identical riverboats were built to ferry supplies from San Francisco to ports on the Delta and Stockton.  The Sutter plied the waters between ports on the San Francisco Bay and the California Delta while her sister ship ran the route between Stockton and the Delta ports.  The Sutter provided many years of useful service, carrying up to 750 tons of freight per trip and earning a place as a valuable workhorse and historic delta landmark. After WWII she was eventually replaced by a network of highways and roads where trucks could haul the freight faster and cheaper.  Her life as a freighter ended on the west side docks of Sacramento sometime about 1950.

September of 1993 this unique Delta landmark was damaged by a galley fire which forced its permanent closure as a public restaurant and bar. New building codes for public restaurants made the necessary renovations prohibitively expensive on the old vessel. Without a future, there was talk of dismantling the ship.


Yet another life for the Sutter was made possible when she was acquired in 1994 by the San Joaquin Yacht Club “as-is” for one dollar.  She was towed to her new home on Dutch Slough where she remains today. With an outpouring of volunteer effort and a continuous commitment of funds and resources, the Sutter has once again been painstakingly stabilized, and restored as the San Joaquin Yacht Clubhouse complete with its original chef’s galley, pilot house, full dress lights, 100 foot bar, and colorful past.

A second chapter was written in the life of the Sutter when boatyard worker John Moore  borrowed $4,500 and purchased the languishing vessel in 1961.  He spent the next five years realizing his dream, renovating, expanding, and converting it into a floating bar and restaurant. It was dubbed “Moore’s Riverboat” when it finally opened on July 4th 1966. The Riverboat was an instant success with the delta public and enjoyed continuing popularity for the next 27 years as a restaurant and bar. Live music from the 20’s and 30’s played every weekend. The ladies panties that hung over the bar, were reminiscent of it’s colorful past on the delta. 

The Sutter takes a trip from Moore’s to her final home on Bethel Island.

The Sutter on the Sacramento River  in 1931

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