Bethel Island

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Bethel Island
Aerial photo of two islands surrounded by rivers, and more land.
USGS aerial imagery of Bethel Island (right) and Jersey Island (left).
Bethel Island is located in Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta
Bethel Island
Bethel Island
Bethel Island is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Bethel Island
Bethel Island
Bethel Island is located in California
Bethel Island
Bethel Island
Bethel Island is located in the United States
Bethel Island
Bethel Island
LocationNorthern California
Coordinates38°01′53″N 121°38′27″W / 38.03131°N 121.640787°W / 38.03131; -121.640787 (Bethel Island)[1]Coordinates: 38°01′53″N 121°38′27″W / 38.03131°N 121.640787°W / 38.03131; -121.640787 (Bethel Island)[1]
Adjacent bodies of waterSan Joaquin River
Area3,500 acres (1,400 ha)
State California
CountyContra Costa
Populationapprox. 3700
Contra Costa County, California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas with Bethel Island Highlighted.

Bethel Island is an island in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta of Contra Costa County, California, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Antioch.[2] The island describes itself as "the heart of the California Delta." The population at the 2010 census was 2,137, a 7.6 percent decline from 2,312 at the 2000 census.[3]


Bethel Island was named for the Bethell Brothers, Frank and Warren Bethell, who formed the first successful farm on the island, called Sand Mound Ranch. Frank Bethell was appointed postmaster of the first post office; however, a pious clerk at the U.S. Postal office did not want the name "Bet Hell" and dropped the additional "L" to make it "Bethel", like the Hebrew term בית אל beth el which translates to "House of God,"[4] is known for its recreational activities. The island's reputation as such began in 1930, with Blanche and Jack Farrar founding a park with swimming, picnicking and other outdoor activities. This park would eventually be called Farrar Park. Remsburg Marina was started by Warren Remsburg in 1938, and in 1944 a fishing resort called Frank's had gained popularity on the island. The resort was built by the Andronico family. By the 1950s the area became popular with sport fishermen and the rich.[5] Frank Bethell and Warren Bethell's widow, Ann Youree (Hamilton) Bethell sold their interest in the island in 1901. Ann went on to form a successful ranch in Almaden Valley and established the Bethell Block in downtown San Jose (site of the current Federal Building).


Bethel Island, California, is located in East Contra Costa County. It is one of the western islands within the California Delta region. The 1,450 ha (3,600-acre) island is bounded on the west and northwest by Taylor Slough, on the north and east by Piper Slough, on the southeast by Sand Mound Slough, on the east by Frank's Tract, and on the southwest by Dutch Slough. The island is approximately 3,500 acres (1,416 ha) in size.


The Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District (BIMID) has five directors, elected from the local community. They are responsible primarily for maintaining the levee around the island. They also have responsibilities for water supply and drainage; parks and playgrounds; and the local airports.[6]

As of January 2012, the Directors are:

  • President Daniel Phippen (Appointed - Term Expires 12/2014)
  • Vice President Marguerite Lawry (Elected - Term Expires 12/2014)
  • Jeff Rocca (Elected - Term Expires 12/2012)
  • Dennis Eisenbeis (Elected - Term Expires 12/2012)
  • Anthony Berzinas (Appointed - Term Expires 12/2012) .

BIMID was created by the California State Legislature in 1960, replacing Reclamation District No. 1619. BIMID owns 100 acres (40 ha) of land in the center of the island between Bethel Island Road and Piper Road. Appromiately 85 acres (34 ha) is used for sourcing sand to maintain the levee; plus approximately 15 acres (6 ha) used to plant new trees to mitigate for tree removal elsewhere on the island.

The BIMID property on Stone Road consists of the District offices, a meeting room and a small equipment yard.


The island is mostly below sea level, with a 14.9 mile perimeter levee. The area is home to approximately 3,700 people, with 1,300 residential houses on the island, plus four mobile home parks, 13 commercial marinas, a commercial business area and agricultural land.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Bethel Island Golf Course designed by Bob Baldock, is home to Bethel Island Men's Golf Club, which is affiliated to Northern California Golf Association (NCGA) and offers official USGA handicaps.


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bethel Island
  2. ^ "Bethel Island". Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  3. ^ Bethel Island, California Population Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  4. ^ Erwin G. Gudde; William Bright (10 May 2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-520-24217-3. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  5. ^ Carol A. Jensen (29 October 2007). The California Delta. Arcadia Publishing. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-7385-4787-9. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]