The Island's OriginTerminal Island is an engineered union of two smaller islands—Rattlesnake and Deadman's—constructed for the development of the Port of Los Angeles. Rattlesnake Island in fact was no more than a sand bar extending off the mainland into the bay and so called because of the abundance of rattlesnakes encountered by early explorers. In contrast, Deadman's Island was designated on the maps of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 and later Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602. Its name is a reference to the burials of lost mariners and Indians found by later visitors including Richard Henry Dana who described this "small, dreary-looking island" and the Englishman who was buried here "alone and friendless" in the classic account of his 1834–1836 voyage, Two Years Before the Mast.
In the 1800's as Los Angeles grew in size and potential value as a port city, politicians and industrialists recognized the need for a functional harbor that could accommodate large vessels. Around mid-century, transformation of the beachfront into the international port of today involved three important steps: dredging the slough between Deadman's Island and the mainland; bridging Rattlesnake and Deadman's with a breakwater; and constructing a short but vital rail connection to Los Angeles, the Terminal Railway Line. The newly formed land became known as "Terminal Island," the original islands gone except for a trace of Deadman's marked as Reservation Point.
Terminal Island, California