Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800sJohn Slater
John Slater (1849 1908) was born on one of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. At the age of 15 he left school to join the crew of a fishing sloop. Four years later, he went to sea as a sailor before the mast, working his way up to an officer's position.
San Francisco Bay. 1899.
In 1871, he came to California as a mate on the cargo ship Seminole of Boston. Impressed with the outlook on the Pacific coast, he decided to stay. After plying the coast trade for several years, he was lured into gold mining on the Stikine River in northwestern British Columbia but did not find it profitable.
The Sam Blair Line
Going back to the sea, Slater became master of several ships belonging to the Sam Blair line: first the Oreola, then in succession the Yosemite, Two Brothers, and the Oriental.
According to the History of California and Biographical Record of Oakland and Environs, [a]t the time Captain Slater was master of the Oriental it was the largest vessel entering the bay of San Francisco.
In 1889, he joined the shipping firm of William E. Mighell and Charles C. Boudrow. For seven years Slater was master of the bark Wilner. After this ship was burned at the docks in Tacoma, WA, he took charge of the clipper ship Charmer, which he commanded on the San Francisco-Honolulu route until his retirement in 1907.
Editor's Note: Additional information on Captain Slater's life can be found on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) site, which details an area of Berkeley settled by several noted sea captains plying San Francisco Bay waters during the 1800s. It is well worth a visit.
High power viewing with zoom magnifications from 15x to 45x and large 50mm objective lens in a polished brass scope on a mahogany floor tripod.
• Fully coated achromatic lenses for brilliant images structured in a refractor design with helical focusing rings
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