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Captain James H. Blethen

Bridge to the Castle.

The Maritime Heritage Project

The Maritime Heritage Project was started in 1997 as an historical research paper by Lauren Hewett, then a student at White Hill Middle School in San Anselmo, California.

The subject, Captain James H. Blethen, her great-great-great Grandfather, was a sea captain based in San Francisco during the mid-1800s. His life had not been recorded; her idea brought him to life, along with thousands of other captains, ships, merchants, merchandise and world migrations.

Beginning in 1852

Captain Blethen sailed into San Francisco with thousands of immigrants seeking new lives and gold in Northern California. During the 1870s, Captain Blethen also opened the Pacific Mail Line routes between Hawaii and Australia/New Zealand. When the Captain retired from life at sea, he was elected Chief Wharfinger in San Francisco.

Lauren Hewett Research Paper

The Maritime Heritage Project led to a growing respect for ships and their captains for their enduring commitment in safely moving merchandise, livestock, and people around the world under unpredictable and often dangerous conditions.

It also led to a life of wandering around the world.

Maritime Museums Visited

Maritime Greenwich.
  • Boston: Boston National Historic Park
  • America: California: San Francisco Maritime Museum and National Park
  • America: Connecticut: Mystic Seaport Museum at Mystic
  • America: Maine: Searsport Maritime Museum
  • America: New York: South Street Seaport Museum
  • Australia: Brisbane Maritime Museum
  • British Columbia: Maritime Museum of B.C., Vancouver Maritime Museum
  • Caribbean: Curacao Maritime Museum, Willemstad, Curacao
  • Channel Islands: Lighthouse
  • England, Greenwich Maritime Museum
  • France: Maritime Museum at Nice
  • French Polynesia: Moorea Maritime Museum
  • New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Auckland

World Ports Visited

  • America
    • - California (Bodega Bay, Fort Ross, Los Angeles, Monterey, Morro Bay, San Diego, San Francisco — all coastal cities, actually)
      - Florida (Key West and Miami)
      - Hawaii (All Islands)
      - Illinois (Chicago)
      - Louisiana (New Orleans)
      - Maine (all coastal cities), Maryland (Baltimore)
      - Massachuetts (Boston, Salem)
      - New Jersey (all coastal cities)
      - Louisiana (New Orleans)
      - Oregon (Portland and all coastal cities)
      - Washingon (Seattle and all coastal cities)
    • Australia: Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas 
    • Bahamas: Nassau
    • British Columbia: Vancouver Island
    • Caribbean: Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent/Grenadiens, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica
    • Channel Islands (English Channel): Guernsey, Jersey, Sark
    • Costa Rica: Coastal cities along the Atlantic
    • England: Greenwich, London, Plymouth, Weymouth
    • France: Monaco, Nice, Paris (upriver) 
    • Cook Islands: Roratonga
    • Greece: Capri, Santorini 
    • Holland: Amsterdam, Den Haag
    • Hong Kong, Kowloon and Macao
    • Ireland: Dublin and coastal cities
    • Italy: Civitacchia, Livorno, Naples, Venice 
    • Japan: Inland Sea villages, Tokyo, Hakone, Nara, Kyoto
    • Mexico: Both coasts to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Mar, Sea of Cortez
    • New Zealand: Auckland, Devonport
    • Tahiti (French Polynesia): Bora Bora, Moorea 
    • Thailand: Bangkok (on the Chao Praya river), and coastal cities of Phuket and Ko Samui
    • Turkey: Kusadasi
    • Wales: Holyhead, Pembroke, Swansea


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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DALevy @ MaritimeHeritage.org
164 Robles Way
Suite 237
Vallejo, California
94591 ~ U.S.A.


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.