Merchant Ships in Port

Please note: Merchant ship arrivals are included to give an idea of the volume and type of goods into early San Francisco. If you had the money, you could have anything your heart desired. Listings are by no means complete; names of passengers on these vessels are often unavailable.

Click here for passenger ship arrivals.

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1858, San Francisco


January 13, 1858, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

THE CREW OF THE ATMOSPHERE. -- Nine sailors of the ship Atmosphere were arrested January 9th, says the Bulletin, by Chief Curtis and officers Sayward and Baker, for desertion. Their names are C. R. Brown, William Coffin, J. Harmon, J. Salston, John Brown, Frank Disser, A. Williams, J. Nelson and Jacob Ecks. The same men brought suit against the ship some days ago for wages.


February 8, 1858, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


The bark Fanny Major, Capt. Paty, arrived in port yesterday afternoon, with dates from Honolulu to the 21st January, four weeks later than prevous advices.

ELECTION.--The election for members of the Legislature wsa held throughout the Islands on the 4th ult. The ollowing are the names of members elect: James L. Dowsett, Paul F. Manini, John Hammond, IsaacKahai, Kaakua, Paul F. Manini, Kalanipoo, G.P. Judd, Wm. Humpghreys, R.S. Hollister, J.E. Chamberlain, James W. Austin, Z.P. Kaumaea, M. Kenui, John Richardson, C. Kaini, Kapihe, E.M. Kamaipelekane, Kiolea, G.P. Judd, John S. Low, S. Kpip, D.H. Hitchcock, Lainaholo, S. Laanai, Henry L. Sheldon. Total, as far as heard from--Independent, 13; Ministerial, 6; doubtful, 7.


HONOLULU--Per Fanny Major--A. T. Lawton and lady, Miss J. E. Robinson, T. B. Henley, J. T. Withers, W. Mitchell, J. Rivett, S. Below, D. Y. Dyers, G.B. Shurman (spelling?), J. M. Burbank, Jacob Fox and son, Mrs. L. Bray and child. G. Hoberman, H. Berkenbush, F. Sweezey and lady, H. L. Johns, R. Schinbam, Isaac Lent, H. Mann, F. Windsor, Jas Brown, Geo. Johnson, P. Neuman, F. Lindhork, F. W. Young, Geo. Hward, Wm. Ryan, Chopples, F. Smith and 2 Chinamen.

SYDNEY--Per Jaue and Catherine--Mr. Wheeler and lady and 8 in steerage.

February 8, 1858, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Ocean Steamships.

Daly Alta California, San Francisco, February 8, 1858

Vessels on the Way From
Eastern Domestic Ports to San Francisco

Enroute to San Francisco 1858.

February 23, 1858, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


Per Columbia Left San Francisco Feb. 6th, at 10:30 A. M.; arrived off Humboldt Feb. 7th, at 8 P. M; left there Feb. 9th at 8 A M.,, having been detained 36 hours; made all way ports, off Point Grincell met very strong northwest winds, which lasted 24 hours, with violent hail and rain squalls; entered the mount of the straits Feb 12th, at 8 P.M.; in the straits encountered very severe snow storm from the northeast, the snow lying a foot deep on the deck. Arrived at Olympia Saturday, February 13th, at 9 P.M.; weather in the straits intensely cold, theremometer being at no time at midday above twenty-five degrees adn ranging as low as 5 degrees above zero; some of the crew were frost-bitten, and the decks, rigging, and wheelhouse covered with ice.

Left Olympia Feb 14th, at 8 A.M., touching at Fort Ludlow for coals; passed Tatoosh light, at 4 A.M., Feb 15th, on the down trip, off Columbia River; saw a steamer's lights, apparently lying to off the bar. Feb 16th, at 10 P.M., was off Umpqua unable to go in on account of southerly winds; same night had heavy S.W. gales, lasting 48 hours, most of which time the ship was hove to. Feb 17th, 3 P.M., met the steamer Santa Cruz bound north; that night the gale set in with increased fury, with violent squalls, and thunder and lightning, lost fore spencer, stove guards and wheel houses. Feb 19, the wind abating, stood in towards land; at 8 P.M., made Trinidad Harbor; took in wood and provisions, and left there Feb 20, at 8 P.M.; at 10 P.M., off Humboldt bar, passed a fore and aft schr name unknown, of about 25 tons, on her beam ends. Feb 21, at 3 P.M., touched at Mendocino City for wood, left at 8 P.M.; arrived off the Heads at 11 A.M., 22d inst. Left at Olympia, Chili ship Matias Cousins, loading lumber, at Mendocino, brig Judson, lying on the beach having driven ashore in the gale of Wednesday night. She is a total wreck, but there were no lives lost.

April 26, 1858, Daily Alta California, San Francsico

Vessels on the way from
Eastern Domestic Ports to San Francisco

December 31, 1856, Sacramento Daily Union
Sacramento, California Sutter and Gold Rush Sacramento. Author John A. Sutter, Jr.

In looking about our wharves the other day, I was forcibly impressed with the change that has taken place in regard to the character of our commerce within two or three years. There are now comparatively few large vessels in our harbor, either from foreign or Eastern domestic ports. In place of these, numerous small ranging from five to fifty tons are to be seen, which are mostly engaged in island commerce. As the productions of the State ore developed, means have to be provided for their transportation, so that the producer may realise from his labor by the exchange of his commodities for others which bis requirements may demand, or for cash.

In order to facilitate this, hundreds of small vessels have found employment. They are generally of light draught, and many of them can penetrate any river, stream or inlet where water can be found to the depth of a foot. They come here loaded with the productions of the farmers with grain, hay, vegetables, wood, charcoal, etc. These, together with some larger vessels that are employed in bringing lumber from the northern part of the State nnd from Oregon, and some others engaged in trading up and down the coast, make up the bulk of our commerce at this time.

Gold Rush Saloons.
Sacramento's Gold Rush Saloons: El Dorado in a Shot GlassSacramento's Gold Rush Saloons. Special Collections.
Special Collections. Sacramento Public Library.

As early as 1839, Sacramento, California, was home to one of the most enduring symbols of the American West: the saloon. From the portability of the Stinking Tent to the Gold Rush favorite El Dorado Gambling Saloon to the venerable Sutter's Fort, Sacramento saloons offered not simply a nip of whiskey and a round of monte but also operated as polling place, museum, political hothouse, vigilante court and site of some of the nineteenth century's worst violence.

Under Full Sail: Silent Cinema on the High Seas

° The Yankee Clipper
° Around the Horn
° The Square Rigger
° Ship Ahoy
° Down to the Sea in Ships

DVD bonus features include an audio reminiscence by Frank Junior Coghlan about the filming of The Yankee Clipper. An enclosed booklet includes detailed program notes by film scholar and U.S. Navy marine engineer John E. Stone and an essay about the scoring of The Yankee Clipper by organist Dennis James.

Master Under GodSan Francisco.

Captain G. D. Williams
Captains exercised absolute authority at sea and so were dubbed "Master Under God" by early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade.

The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies.

San Francisco.San Francisco.

All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his ultimate responsibility.

On international voyages, the captain is responsible for satisfying requirements of the local immigration and customs officials.Immigration issues can include situations such as embarking and disembarking passengers, handling crewmembers who desert the ship, making crew-changes in port, and making accommodations for foreign crewmembers.

Customs requirements can include the master providing a cargo declaration, a ship's stores declaration, a declaration of crewmembers' personal effects, crew lists and passenger lists.

The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology

Maritime Archaeology.

(Oxford Handbooks)
Editors: Alexis Catsambis, Ben Ford, Donny L. Hamilton
A comprehensive survey of the field as seen through the eyes of nearly fifty scholars at a time when maritime archaeology has established itself as a mature branch of archaeology. This volume draws on many of the distinct and universal aspects of maritime archaeology, bringing them together under four main themes: the research process, ships and shipwrecks, maritime and nautical culture, and issues of preservation and management.

The Project

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



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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.

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