Isleton is an interesting and mysterious little town in the Sacramento river delta. Isleton was settled in the late 1800s. It does not appear as a separate town in the census until 1920 when it had a population of 2,090. It's likely that at some point prior to 1920 Isleton had more than 2,090 residents. The early population of Isleton was representative of the agricultural workers and land owners in the surrounding delta. Isleton had large Chinese, Japanese and European white communities. The Bing Kong Tong (pictured) was established in Isleton 1903. This may have been around the time when Isleton's Chinese population was at it's greatest. A fire in 1926 destroyed much of Isleton's downtown and all of it's Chinatown. Almost all of the buildings standing in Isleton today were built shortly after that fire and over the next 20 years. The population of Isleton has been steadily declining since 1920 and is now 804. During WWII Isleton's Japanese community was forcibly relocated to internment camps like Manzanar. They did not return when the war was over. The last of Isleton's Chinese also began leaving around the same time. Isleton's current population is representative of the current local agricultural workers and landowners and is nearly split between white and hispanic-white.
Isleton struggled economically and lost population for much of the 20th century. The revival that seems to be taking hold in near-by Walnut Grove and Locke might also be starting in Isleton but seems a little delayed. It's further from Sacramento than those towns and not quite close enough to the bay area to be influenced by either metropolitan area. Unfortunately Isleton has spent most of the current century in states of municipal implosion and chaos. Here's an LA Times Article from 2009 that describes some of the problems up to that point. Photos of the abandoned (except for squatters) Village On The Delta that the linked article refers to are below. Through all of it's troubles, Isleton has managed to retain a really interesting and unique built environment. Isleton does have an active preservation community and it seems like downtown Isleton is showing more signs of life recently. It's definitely unlike any other town I've been to and like nearby Locke and Walnut Grove, very worth visiting.