magnitude of the Central Valley

I hear people all the time talking about the Central Valley, and I thought I had a pretty clear idea of where and what it is — inland of here, a big area where there are a lot of farms plus some of the major inland cities, the nation’s major supplier of various fruit and nut crops. But I’ve never looked at it on the map before — I had no idea how big it really is! Just from looking at Google Maps satellite imagery, it seems to go from Chico to Bakersfield in a huge swath (Wikipedia tells me it’s actually as far north as Redding), where virtually everything is either farm, major natural feature inhibiting farming, or urban area.

Delightful Wikipedia factoids:
“Before California’s massive flood control and aqueduct system was built, the annual snow melt turned much of the valley into an inland lake.”

“Virtually all non-tropical crops are grown in the Central Valley,” a sentence that sounds not quite as intended when taken out of context. I assume they just mean that unless a crop is tropical, it can be and likely is cultivated in the Central Valley, not that it is exclusively so cultivated.

Also, the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta is an inverted river delta. And the Capitol Corridor train (and other trains on that line) crosses its outlet portion, the Carquinez Strait, on a very cool rail bridge [jpg].

The reason I noticed all this is that I went to Davis this weekend. Davis is also cool, but since I got sidetracked by this whole California geography thing I’ll have to say more about that later.

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