When people think of ports, two images generally will come to mind: boats and water. But rarely do they generate thoughts of agriculture. However, the Port of Stockton, located in Stockton, Calif., defies these expectations.
According to World Port Source, the port began as part of the Rancho del Campo de Los Franceses, which was granted by the Mexican government to William Gulnac in 1844. “In 1849, Captain Charles Weber bought the land and established the city of Tuleberg,” World Port says.
During the 1849 Gold Rush, the port enjoyed rapid growth as it operated as a supply point for gold miners, and it later added its present name in 1850, in which was in honor of Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who had claimed California for the United States six years earlier.
“When irrigation was introduced and the Central Pacific Railroad arrived in 1869, the Port of Stockton grew as a market for farm produce and wines,” World Port says. “The river’s deep-water channel was completed in 1933 to make the Port of Stockton a supply depot for military operations in the Pacific.”
In the past several decades, the Port of Stockton has enjoyed a population boom, World Port says. “Due to this increase, the city was greatly affected by the housing bubble of the early 2000s,” it states.
An Important Center
Today, the Port stretches across an 809-hectare operating area, World Port says. In addition, it can berth 17 vessels and has 102,000 square meters of dockside transit sheds and 715,000 square meters of warehouses, which are served by rail.
“The Port is near the country’s highway system and two transcontinental railroads,” World Port says, adding that the Port of Stockton handled more than 2 million tons of cargo in 2008.
Its channel averages 11 meters deep, leaving it capable of accommodating 45,000- to 55,000-ton vessels that are up to 275 meters long. “All berths are operated by the Port of Stockton and can accommodate vessels with maximum draft of 11.3 meters,” World Port says.
The port’s berths are capable of handling various materials, including logs, fertilizers, steel products, liquid bulk, containers, sulfur, clay and copper concentrate. “In addition to facilities operated by the Port of Stockton, about 60 tenants lease land and operate their own facilities that complement those of the port and provide for the handling and storage of liquid and dry bulk commodities,” World Port says.
According to World Port, several major companies have selected the port as their base of regional operations, including Duraflame, Golden State Lumber Co. and Pac-West Telecommunications. Additionally, World Port says it is “an important center for agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and wines.”
In addition, the port has developed a commitment to sustainable energy. Recently, it exhibited at the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta. Port O Call magazine recently reported that the port is a major player in transporting wind energy components. These include parts for the wind turbines that rest on California’s hills. Port O Call also noted that the port has made a big play for coal exports.
Most recently, the Port of Stockton has enjoyed substantial growth. For instance, this March, Recordnet.com reported that the port saw the completion of a $1.2 million rail project, which allows it to potentially double its volume of iron ore and coal exports.
The 5,825 feet of track enables the Port to take six ore or coal trains a week. “We’ve gotten into the iron ore export business and the coal export business fairly heavily,” Deputy Port Director of Operations Mark Tollini told Recordnet.com. “It effectively doubles our capacity.”
In addition, the Central Valley Business Journal reported that the port is enjoying a strong rate of business as the only port on the West Coast that exports more than it imports. In addition, as businesses have moved to the Port, they have added jobs, commerce, tax revenue and hope for the community’s economic future.
According to the Journal, Port Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Blanchard said in her May 17 State of the City Address that the port’s dock workers have shipped more than 2 million tons of rice since 2000. The port shipped these products to multiple destinations, including Japan, New Guinea, South Korea and the Middle East.
“In fact, on any given day, you will find dock workers actively engaged in furthering international trade,” Blanchard commented. “Today, for example, our long shore labor force is loading iron ore bound for China. Tomorrow, they will be exporting rice to Japan.”
Along with rice, the workers will be handling many different products this month, including slag, iron ore, rice, fertilizer and molasses. “Ports are very good indicators of future economic activity, and this year, the Port of Stockton is experiencing significant increases in trade, which we feel will have a positive effect on the local economy in the months ahead,” she says.
She added that the majority of tonnages handled by the Port are exports of American products. “These include California grown rice, iron ore from Utah, coal from Colorado and prilled sulfur processed right here in Stockton,“ she said.
According to the Journal, the port has invested more than $130 million in infrastructure improvements since its acquisition of Rough and Ready Island. Blanchard also commented that the Port was in negotiations for $1.8 billion in future projects, which will add 1,100 more jobs.
Growing Into The Future
As the 13th largest city in California, Stockton says it stands as a large urban center that will grow in the future. “With that growth comes new residents, new businesses, new opportunities and new construction projects,” it says. “Today’s urban redevelopment is helping to bring the city of Stockton into the 21st century in exciting and dynamic ways.”
The city’s redevelopments also require it to take upon itself a large amount of responsibility, the city says. “When projects include money received from the state or federal government, the city must comply with laws that were created to help protect our nation’s natural and cultural resources,” it says.
One such law that is the National Historic Preservation Act. “Important archaeology sites and historic buildings are often nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they may receive long-term protection,” the city says.
“Redevelopment can also reveal some unexpected and fascinating things,” the city says. “Sometimes brand new archaeological findings occur when you least expect them. Buried beneath our city parking lots and buildings lies a history that belongs to all of us.”