San Francisco News & Stories


List of Storeships in the Port of San Francisco. Daily Alta California, November 1, 1851.

DAC Storeships in the Port of San Francisco November 1, 1851During San Francisco's formative years, many gold rush ships were abandoned in Yerba Buena Cove as sailors headed for the gold fields. Without crew, freight or passengers, the ships became floating hulks, unable to sail away from California.

Yerba Buena Cove

Yerba Buena Cove.

They were temporarily or permanently used as storeships, hotels and prisons, and for other purposes. Others were sunk and, over time, San Francisco was built on top of the hulks. Later construction projects revealed the remains of several ships under the city.

In December 1851, Springer & Co. at Fourth Street between I and J Streets advertised: "Storeships moored and staging built or hauled, stripped, etc. along with "made to order, tents, canvas houses, roofs, wagon covers, hose, awnings, house linings, carpets, etc."

After 1852, many storeships were shifted south of Market Street; ships that could not be shifted were broken up or fell apart where they lay.

As of May 1854, the Alta reported that "no less than eight storeships lying in the bay of San Francisco are now undergoing repairs and fitting for sea."

October 8, 1855, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Marine Disaster. A storeship lying at the foot of J street -- the Cossa, we believe -- was found to be in a sinking condition about sunrise on Saturday morning. The pumps were set at work immediately, but it being found that the leak continued gaining the hulk was abandoned, and now lies careened with the outer guard about one foot above the water. Her owners being fearful that she might become imbedded like her contemporary, the Stirling, have hauled a lighter alongside, connected the two with heavy timbers, and intend soon having her afloat, which may be readily effected. The accident was caused, we understand, by a rub from the steamer Defender, or Goliah, while rummaging about for a berth on Friday night.

Opposition. The opposition steamer Goliah alias Defender, arrived at the Levee about four o'clock on Saturday morning, and after paddling around for a berth at one of the storeships, was compelled to drop down and make fast to the bank at the foot of X street. By some previous arrangement, the storeships ordinarily used for landing purposes had been occupied by other craft. The policy of any movement that tends to hinder the free landing of vessels at the Levee, is questionable.

Apollo Storeship

Sacramento and Battery Streets

Apollo was modified for use as a storeship in January of 1850. In imitation of the storeship Niantic two blocks away, she was beached on the mudflats of the San Francisco waterfront. Apollo lay between Central Wharf and Howison's Pier, parallel to the wharves, with her bow facing inland. Her ballast was removed, her masts pulled, and a two story frame "barn" was erected to completely house over her decks.

San Francisco Bay. Albert Bierstadt

San Francisco Bay. Albert Bierstadt.

The barn was subdivided into stores and offices. Large doors were cut into the side of the hull and the interior was used as a warehouse. A stage, or wharf, built on the starboard side of the beached hulk, was connected to Central Wharf. A small frame structure was built at the ship's stern facing Battery street. This housed the Apollo Saloon, a popular doughnut and coffee house.

The Apollo Storeship and the "saloon" remained in business fire on May 4, 1851 burned her to a point just below the waterline at the turn of her bilge. Her cargo of unburned merchandise and a variety of burnt materials fell into her hull and into the mud and water. (Niantic, which burned in the same fire, was similarly preserved in mud.) After the fire, Apollo's burned hulk was covered by clean sand, and new structures were built atop the landfill. In 1901, excavations for an elevator shaft encountered a portion of the hull. The construction of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco exposed nearly the entire interior of the ship as well as the tops of the charred pilings of the wharves which linked Apollo to the shore. The last exposure of any portion of the ship was in 1925, when excavations at the rear of the bank, on the corner of Sacramento and Battery streets, exposed the stern and rudder as well as several Gold Rush artifacts.


February 13, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

City of San Francisco. 1878.

STORAGE. -- The undersigned is prepared to receive 300 tons on storage at reasonable rates on board the storeships Callao and Peru. All goods stored on above named vessels will be landed free of charge. N.B. -- Orders for lighterage punctually attended to. Apply on board the Callao to Wm. A. Green.


At the foot of Telegraph Hill.


The Euphemia arrived on April 12, 1849. Daily Alta California:

American brig Euphemia, Newell master, 27 days from Mazatlan. Merchandise to Mellus Howard & Co. 92 passengers.

She was berthed next to the Central Wharf and work was begun to convert her into a prison ship. Most probably the area below the decks was converted into a cell block, while the cabin above deck must have served as the guardhouse. On December 10, 1849, at the Town Council meeting Messrs. Brannan, Davis and Post reported the satisfactory conversion of the ship into a prison. The work had required some $1,033.75 worth of lumber. The balls and chains arrived in late January of 1850 at the cost of $523.80. Not counting labor costs, the new jail had cost San Francisco $5,357.55 not bad considering a simple one-story house of clapboard and shingles cost approximately $15,000 to build at that time.


The Niantic was a China packet built in Connecticut in 1835 and converted into a whaler in 1844. The storeship Niantic, San Francisco, 1800s, by Welsh Printing.

In 1849, during her second whaling voyage she stopped in Peru and learned the news of the gold rush. Changing its whaling course she headed for Panama and loaded 246 passengers at rates varying from 150 to 250 dollars per passenger. Arriving in San Francisco all of its crew deserted. She was transformed into the first storeship. In 1851, a fire destroyed 22 city blocks on the city's waterfront and the Niantic burned to the ground. In four months, a house was built on her spot, followed by a hotel, a commercial building, and an office building.


February 13, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

STORAGE. -- The undersigned is prepared to receive 300 tons on storage at reasonable rates on board the storeships Callao and Peru. All goods stored on above named vessels will be landed free of charge. N.B. -- Orders for lighterage punctually attended to. Apply on board the Callao to Wm. A. Green.

Philip Hone

Arrived in the port of San Francisco on August 9, 1849: American bark Philip Hone, 291 tons, built 1833 in New York. Sailed January 27, 1849 from New York under command of B. Mitchell with 60 passengers. Arrived 194 days later via Cape Horn and Rio de Janeiro. Used as a storeship after arrival.


  • April 26, 1851, San Francisco, Daily Alta California, San Francisco:
    STORESHIP AND LOT FOR SALE, well situated: Will be sold together or separate. Apply at the Philip Hone warehouse, Buckelew's Wharf, to G. B. Elkins (ap22)
    N.B. The bulk of 500 barrels more storage can be taken at the Philip Hone warehouse, on reasonable terms and safe from fire.

    (Ad also ran through April, May, June, July . . . )

  • Daily Alta California, June 7, 1851:
    Express Wagon
    -- One very light, just landed and for sale at the Philip Hone Warehouse. (je7-3) G. B. Elkins

    Brick Machines - 4 Baker's Improved patent, with the right for California and Oregon. For sale at the Philip Hone warehouse, by (je7) G. B. Elkins.

  • Daily Alta California, August 23, 1851
    500 bags prime Chile barley;
    1000 qr sacks fresh Chile flour; 500 dp hf do do;
    20 casks daily butter in small packages;
    30 bags beans; 100 kegs Stuarts syrup;
    48 casks Boston sugar cured hams;
    200 bbls mess beef and pork; 40 cs charcoal tin;
    500 kegs dried applies and peaches;
    10 casks vinegar; 25 do draught ale and porter;
    50 cases champagne; 20 kegs nails and spikes;
    100 doz old port wine; 50 qr casks do;
    50 qr casks pale sherry; 75 boxes window glass;
    50 boxes pineapple cheese; 1 patent shingle mill;
    2 Bogardus' corn mills.

    (au7) G. B. ELKINS

  • Daily Alta California, November 5, 1851
    STORAGE RECEIVED at the Philip Hone warehouse, near Law's Wharf, surrounded by deep water, free from fire risk, an accessible at all times by dray and scow. Goods lightered or drayed when required. Nov1
  • Sacramento Daily Union, December 1, 1851
    Cleared November 29 Sloop Philip Hone, Rotan, Sacramento. Master.
  • April 7, 1852: Schooner Philip Hone, Captain Rotan, cleared for Stockon.
  • Sacramento Daily Union, May 21, 1852
    Quite an exciting race came off yesterday afternoon between the schooner Maryland and sloop Philip Hone. The Maryland took the lead from the start, and came in about three-quarters of a mile ahead, winning the wager of $1,000. The race was from Broadway Wharf around the Red Rock and back to the starting point.
  • Daily Alta California, June 1, 1852:
    WANTED.--300 tons storage, at very low rates, at Philip Hone Warehouse near Law's Wharf. Accessible at all times for drays or lighters.

    (may1-1m) Oliver W. Easton

    MESS BEEF.--For sale, 50 barrels California beef, resalted, repickled and inspected, and fitted for any voyage by

    O. W. EATON
    may1 At Philip Hone Warehouse

  • On June 12, 1852: Sloop Philip Hone, Captain Rotan, cleared for Sacramento.
  • Daily Alta California, September 26, 1871
    Shipping (Article)
    Delinquent Tax List
    Sloop Philip Hone - Abraham Hall 3/4; W. G. Hall 1/4. $31.44.

Editor's Note:
We do not know if the vessel Philip Hone was named after the following Philip Hone, but it seems worth noting.

Sacramento Daily Union, June 23, 1851, San Francisco
Philip Hone, Esq., Naval officer of New York (1850s), whose death was announced by telegraph, was for many years a merchant in New York, and retired with a large fortune, which subsequently became impaired by the commercial reverses of a near relative. He filled many offices of trust in New York, and among others that of Mayor of the city. Much of his time was devoted during the period of his retirement from business to the interests of charitable and literary institutions of the city. He was an active Whig of the old school, and received the appointment of Naval officer from President Taylor.


Daily Alta California, July 4, 1853, San Francisco
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN That all the chests which have heretofore been stored at the boarding house known as the Stad Amsterdam, can be obtained by application at the storeship SALEM. In case of no application within six months, the same chests will be sold at public auction, to pay storage and other expenses.

Stad Amsterdam

Daily Alta California, July 4, 1853
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN That all the chests which have heretofore been stored at the boarding house known as the Stad Amsterdam, can be obtained by application at the storeship SALEM. In case of no application within six months, the same chests will be sold at public auction, to pay storage and other expenses.

Thomas Bennet

Daily Alta California, 1850, San Francisco

GRAND RAFFLE. - Magnificent scheme of investment, consisting of the "Howison Property!!" HENRY HOWISON, with the honorable intention of paying all his debts as soon as possible, and to prevent his property being sacrificed by a forced sale, has come to the conclusion of offering to the public his entire property in one Grand Raffle, to wit: The following schedule of one of the most desirable properties in San Francisco, located at the very centre of the business quarter of the city, and combining every advantage of access from the land and Water, will be offered in a few days in 2000 shares of $100 each.

The two water lots known as number 226 and 257, situated at the corner of Front and Sacramento streets, covered by the following improvements, viz: the storeship Thomas Bennet, with the capacity of 10,000 barrels or 1600 tons, entirely enclosed in a building two and three stories high, extending one hundred and thirty-seven and a half feet on Sacramento street, and ninety-one feet on Front street. Extending along the wharf are nine stores and ten offices, in which are located the offices of the Pacific Mail and Empire City Line of steamers, and two large halls one hundred and thirty-seven and a half feet by thirty-two. The whole connected with the well known Howison Pier, on which is a well-constructed railway and car for the transit of goods, and a crane for hoisting cargo, all belonging to the property. There is also a very wide wharf on Front street, with steps for landing, and is already used as one of the principal thoroughfares for landing passengers, baggage and cargo.

About two-thirds of the property is under rent, bringing in a monthly total of $5000 per month, or $60,000 per annum, and is susceptible of improvements which will render it more profitable; and it is confidently believed to offer greater attractions as an investment, than any other property in the city. The delivery of good valid deeds is guaranteed to the successful competitor for this golden prize.

Historic Maps and Views of San Francisco. The Granger Collection.

The last number of the 2000 tickets drawn, entitles the lucky purchaser to the above described property. Tickets can be had of Henry Howison, foot of Howison's Pier, or Kendig, Wainwright & Co., Montgomery Street, and in order to secure the purchaser purchaser of tickets beyond a doubt, the money received for each and every ticket, will be deposited with Messrs. F. Argenti & Co., who will receipt for the same on the back of each ticket, and guarantee the return of the money if the Raffle does not take place.

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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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