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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1870s, San Francisco



The Voyage of the Eastern Star

The voyage which terminated a few days since in the safe arrival in this port of the ship Eastern Star, from New York, was a somewhat eventful one When off Rio de Janeiro the vessel's chronometer, the only one on board, broke. Captain A. Curtis, her Commander then made for the shore, and when the line showed fifty fathoms, he continued on his course, keeping an extra sharp look out. The Straits of Le Maire were safely navigated, and that most dreaded of points, the "Horn," was passed only four miles distance. Strong winds, that then set in, blew the ship one hundred miles to the eastward, and the weather all the time had been too thick to permit of taking a lunar observation. When, as he supposed, he was far enough to the westward, the Captain began to make his northerly running, and on the 10th of February sighted the island of Juan Fernandez.

Captain Curtis was then of course aware of his exact position, and from thence he ran by dead reckoning and by lunar observations; and crossing the Equator in 100 degrees he took the N.E. trades in 150 N., and sighted the Farallones within thirty minutes of the time he expected. The Eastern Star is a vessel of magnificent proportions. She brings a general cargo, and is discharging at the Mission street wharf. Too much praise cannot be given to Captain Curtis for bringing his ship safely into port. Many sleepless days and nights must he have passed in navigating the Eastern Star, under the difficulties in which he was placed.



January 10, 1871 San Francisco Chronicle: By the arrival of the Moses Taylor from Honolulu, which connected with the Wonga Wonga from Auckland, we have New Zealand dates to December 7th and from Sydney to November 30th. The following is the list of passengers from Australia and New Zealand: Austrian Field Marshall Lieutenant Baron Jochnus, W.H. Wilson and wife, Thomas Henderson, Jr. Wm. B. Dyson, Dr. Jenkins, Miss Allen, F.L. Castle, Miss Rose Evans, G. Clarement, H.M. Hyndman, Mrs. Barton, A.J. Logan, A. Stevenson, Mail Agent, and twenty others.

News brought in by the Moses Taylor: In native matters though there is no immediate danger of a general rising by the Maoris, there are not wanting signs of uneasiness which bode no good for the peace of the country. On the 27th of last month five natives, adherents of the Maori King, attacked a survey party at work on the boundary of the land confiscated after the war of 1863. Mr. Richard Todd, the chief of the survey party, was killed, and a half caste assistant was severely wounded. The natives surprised the party while they were at breakfast. Warning had been given the day previous, but the Europeans despised it. The cause of the attack is said to be surreptitious prospecting for gold on native land, of which the Maoris are very jealous, coupled with the surveys. Very recently a ch-rebel, Le Kooti, and his compeer, Kereopa, a chief, who killed the Rev. Mr. Volkner, ate his eyes and drank his heart’s blood, having reappeared in the neighborhood of the settlements on the east coast of the Province of Auckland. The settlers are on the qui vive. It is satisfactory to know that so far the Maori King hold aloof from these proceedings.

The Duke of Edinburgh was daily expected to arrive at Auckland from Australia, via New Caledonia, in the Galatea.

The Earl of Pembroke, who was cruising among the South Sea Islands, was wrecked. He was picked up together with the captain and crew by a passing vessel.


August 18, 1875: Scurvy on the Bremen from Liverpool

August 18, 1875, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

Mission Street Wharf

Mission Street Wharf.

About two o'clock this morning the bark Milan, lying in Mission Bay, loaded with lumber and general merchandise for Yokohoma, was set on fire and entirely consumed. Loss about $10,000. No insurance. The Milan was the property of Pope & Talbot, lumber dealers, and was to have sailed to-morrow.

January 10, 1878, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Arrival of a Steam Yacht Under the Guatemalan Flag.

The Guatemalan steam yacht Sofia arrived in port yesterday, 60 days from Callao, consigned to Williams, Blanchard & Co. The Sofia is a three-masted, schooner-rigged, steam yacht, of 230 tons, built by White, of Cowes; 185 feet long, 27 feet beam, drawing 16 feet aft and 9 feet forward, built of oak and teak; two passenger cabins, engines 65 horse power, nominal, two-bladed screw that can be unshipped when not in use; crew, 18 all told. The Sofia is owned by a firm of South American contractors, one of whom, Mr. John B. Mulloy, is on board. She is commanded by James H. Barry, from the United States ship Onward. While lying in San Francisco, she will be re-coppered and undergo other necessary repairs, after which she will return to the South Pacific. The Sofia sails under the flag of Guatemala,

February 11, 1879, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Shipping news from February 11, 1879.

February 20, 1879, Daily Alta California


Along the Wharves February 20, 1879.

August 14, 1879, Daily Alta California

Shipping Intelligence

Shipping Intelligence, August 14 1879 DAC.

August 20, 1879, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Along the Wharves February 20, 1879.

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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