By the late 1890s, railway lines were creating new water-rail connections and settlement nodes. Holt, eight miles west of Stockton, was one such location. The new spur tracks linking Delta landings to the main rail network were important to farmers on nearby Roberts Island and Union Island, as well as those living on Upper and Lower Jones tracts who wanted to transport their Delta crops to market.
A Sunset Home Seekers Bureau publication extolled Holt as the largest town in the San Joaquin Delta and in its day, Holt was a bustling place with a hotel, gambling houses, speakeasies, bordellos and the multi-ethnic districts common in the Delta. Its advantageous location along the Borden Highway, the first paved road in the Delta, reinforced the town’s importance and made it a center for innovation in the region: the first successful test of the Caterpillar track-powered vehicle occurred in Holt in 1904.
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