The Stanislaus River is dammed about four miles upstream by New Melones Dam and about two miles downstream by
Tulloch Dam. The O'Byrne Ferry plaque stands beside Tulloch Lake created in 1957 by the downstream dam.
Most of the land around Tulloch Lake is privately owned, and
much of it has been developed with luxury residences.
Robinson's Ferry once crossed the Stanislaus River upstream at a spot now flooded by New Melones Lake.
The O'Byrne Ferry plaque is located in an unincorporated area named Shores of Poker Flat, but it seems
geographically improbable that the boomtown of Bret Harte's story, The Outcasts of Poker Flat, was
situated anywhere near here.
In Harte's story, a change in the moral atmosphere of Poker Flat leads its citizens
to exile the gambler Mr. Oakhurst along with The Duchess, Mother Shipton and Uncle Billy. The exiles take the
road to Sandy Bar a "day's severe travel" away. Before nightfall, they are surrounded by conifers and granite cliffs
and are forced to take shelter from the winter's first snow. Within a few days, a blizzard has buried their cabin in
twenty feet of snow even though they can see smoke rising from Poker Flat in the distance.
Such a dolorous scene could have happened - and did happen - in the Donner Pass
or the Carson Pass, but these altitudes are a hundred miles from here. It's difficult to imagine
that a blizzard has ever dropped twenty feet of snow within a half day's mule ride from bucolic Shores of Poker Flat.