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Steamships at San Francisco: D-G

Details and Images of Steamships

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Details and Images of Steamships

A to C ° D to G ° H to M ° N to O ° P to S ° T to Z
Lists are incomplete; information is added as located and as time permits.

Steamships at San Francisco

SS Dakota
SS Dora
SS Farallon
SS Fremont
SS Georgia
SS Gold Hunter
SS Golden Age
SS Golden Gate
SS Goliah
SS Granada

SS Dakota

January 22, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

How She Was Rebuilt Description of the Ship.

This vessel has just been rebuilt almost from her keel up and left the Company's dock at noon yesterday for Panama, via the Mexican and Central American ports.

She was originally built at Green Point, New York, in 1865, and was sold by Wm. H. Webb to the Mail Company in 1872, together with the Nebraska, Nevada and Moses Taylor. Her engines and boilers are comparatively new having been put In less than three years ago; since which time the steamer has made but the trip round from New York to San Francisco and one voyage to Australia and back. Four months ago she was moored, and decaying, at the Company's wharf in Benicia; now she is a new ship, and good for eight years to come.

There was much rotten wood in her planking, timbers and ceiling. The planking was stripped from the covering board to the turn of the bilge and all the decayed timbers and ceiling removed. New timbers, of Oregon pine, were put In and filled between, nearly solid. The new planking is seven-inch Oregon pine, of great length and edge-bolted with seven-eighths inch square iron. In upper between-decks, ceilings, clamps, waterways and thick-streaks, she bas been all new edge-bolted and thoroughly fastened; new main deck and thirty-five new beams, with knees, put in. In lower deck, six new beams forward and four aft. A stringer on the waterways, six by twelve inches, and a part of the ceiling put In, new. Two additional pointers pat in stern ; also, now rudder stock of teak wood. A large portion #f lower between decks now. Twenty tons of iron bolts and twenty seven thousand locust-tree nails, wedged at both ends, were used for fastenings.

The vessel was docked, stripped, recaulked and sheathed with copper up to sixteen feet. The machinery and boilers have been pat In thorough order, the saloons, staterooms, social hall and officers' rooms repainted, upholstered and carpeted, and the entire ship refitted from stem to stern. She Is complete in all her appointments, and stands to-day rated A1 for five years at Lloyds, and one of the finest side-wheelers owned by the Company. These extensive repairs were planned and perfected by Barsella Cocks, the Company's Master Carpenter, and the repairs to machinery and boilers done by Superintendent Engineer S. W. Hauxhurst.

Captain J. M. Lachlan, the Company's General Superintendent, from his long experience and thorough practical knowledge of steamships and their requirements, was enabled to render material aid as "Consulting Physician."

The steamer certainly is a credit to those who have so quickly and thoroughly rebuilt her, and will prove a valuable addition to the Company's fine fleet. Length, 270 feet; beam, 40 feet; depth, 27 feet; tonnage, 1235; draft, 18 feet; cost of repairs, $100,000.

SS Dora

Klondike Gold. Alaska Commercial Company.

Built by M. Turner, San Francisco for Alaska Commercial Co., San Francisco 1in 1880. Purchased in 1908 from Northwestern Steamship Company, Seattle. In 1913, reclassified to 320 tons. 1920: sold to Bering Sea Fisheries Co., Seattle. 1920 wrecked.

April 8, 1880, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Trial Trip of the Alaska Commercial Company New Steamer.

Yesterday afternoon the Dora, the latest addition to the fleet of the Alaska Commercial Company, was given a trial trip. The beauty of the day, the calmness of the water, and the bright sunshine, made the sail on the new and graceful steamer a veritable pleasure trip. At 10 o'clock Captain Hague gave the order to "let go her stern line," and the staunch little craft was headed for the Golden Gate. Having, on the return, passed Fort Point and Saucelito, the Dora was headed for Hunter's Point, the log was thrown overboard, and Lieutenant Hand, of the Revenue cutter Rush, was appointed referee. The hour was 10:52. A pool was made up by the various steamship men on board as to the time she would make — the majority wagering on between six and three-quarter and seven and three-quarter knots, Capt. Everett Smith, of the Siberia, betting on eight and one-eighth knots. While the log was dragging along about eighty yards behind the steamer, and the .


Was recording the awaited figures, the party on board sat down to an elegant cold lunch in the snug little cabin. The following gentlemen were present : Alfred Greenebaum, of the Alaska Commercial Company; Captain Hooper and Lieutenants Hand and Wykoff, and Chief Engineer D. H. Doyle, of the U. S. Revenue cutter Rush; Captain Everett Smith, of the Siberia; Captain M. C. Erskine, of the St. Paul; Captain Wells, of the Onion Insurance Company; Captain Monton, Special Agent of the Treasury Department at St. Paul Islands; John Armstrong, C. D. Wagner, and Captain Peterson, of the Alaska Commercial Company : Martin Bulger, Superintendent of Construction for the Alaska Company; Wm. Deacon, Engine Builder, and Wm. McAfee, the Boiler-maker.

Lunch being disposed, and many happy wishes for a successful and prosperous career for the new steamer having been expressed over flowing goblets, the log was hauled in, and to the surprise of nearly all, eight and a quarter knots were recorded.

The Dora was built by Captain Turner. She will be commanded by Captain C. J. Hague; 1st officer, O. Anderson; 2d officer, Alex. Hansen, and is destined to ply between Sitka and the various islands off the coast.


As those of a pleasure yacht. Her dimensions are 120 feet in length over all, 27 feet beam, depth of hold, 13 feet; the hull being of Puget Sound pine. She has compound engines, the high-pressure cylinder having a diameter of eleven inches and the low-pressure cylinder twenty Inches, with a twenty-inch stroke. On her trial trip yesterday, with 70 pounds of steam, she averaged 112 revolutions. The vacuum gauge showed 26 inches, with temperature of the feed water at 130°. Her propeller is two-bladed, seven and a half feet in diameter, with an average of nine feet mean pitch. The engine-room and machinery are fitted with all the latest appliances, and for new machinery worked wonderfully smooth, without perceptible hitch or jar.

The boiler la made of half-inch iron, 60,000 pounds tensile, and is nine fret long and seven and a half feet in diameter, covered with asbestos and wire rotting, the daily consumption of coal being calculated at less than 3000 pounds. Her forecastle is fitted with a patent steam windlass and capstan, which are very necessary in the trade in which she is to be employed. The saloon, which in aft, measures the entire width of the ship, and is light, airy and comfortable, the walls being hung with rich tapestry.

The Dora will sail for Alaska early next week.

April 2, 1910, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Member of Farallon's Crew Has Finger Blown Off

Alaska Commercial Company's Warehouse. Dawson City, Yukon Terriroty. Gold Rush era.

VALDEZ, Alaska, April 1. The mail steamship Dora arrived from Unalaska today, bringing Charles Burns, the last member of the boat crew that left the camp of the castaways of the steamship Farallon at Iliamna bay, Cook inlet, after the Farallon had gone on the rocks January 5. Burns refused to accompany the remainder of the crew when they left Kadguyak bay to cross Shellkkof strait to Kodiak island, saying that he would try to reach Cold bay, on the Aleutian peninsula, and catch the Dora there. Burns set out alone in a little open dory, with a small quantity of dried salmon, which soon became exhausted, and he rowed a whole day without food. Finally Burns sighted a prospector's cabin, where he found a shotgun and ammunition. "While shooting ducks the gun, was accidentally discharged, tearing off a finger arid otherwise mutilating his hand. The tide carried away his boat, and the cooked ducks that were in it. Weak and hungry, Burns started on foot through the snow for Katmal, where his wounds were treated and the census enumerator carried him to Cold bay where, they arrived just in time to catch Dora At Unalaska a physician treated Burns, hand and the Dora landed him at Kodiak, his home. Burns will recover.

In 1918, the Dora was purchased by Lars Mikkelson and the Bering Sea Fishing Company at Seattle. The Dora sank off Port Hardy in the winter of 1920.

SS Farallon

The SS Farallon was a wooden steam schooner (named after the Farallon Islands, located 26 miles from the coast of San Francisco). The SS Farallon was constructed on Sixth Street in San Francisco in 1888 by Alexander Hay with construction supervised by I. E. Thayer. She was 171 feet long with a beam of nearly 34 feet and a cargo hold more than 10 feet deep. This deep hold allowed the ship to transport over 400,000 board feet of lumber, including Pacific Coast fir, pine, redwood and cedar. (Note that the Daily Alta California of September 9, 1888 reports her at 71 feet long).

In the 1890s she worked out of ports in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. By 1899 it she was making runs from Seattle to Alaska ferrying passengers and mail with the Alaska Steamship Company.

Following are a few notices of the Farallon voyages through to her demise after the turn of the century.

  • Daily Alta California, September 9, 1888: The new steam schooner Farallon made her trial trip around the bay yesterday. She left Berry and Third streets at 10 o'clock, and steamed over the measured mile to Hunter's Point. A speed of eleven knots was developed on the mile. From Hunter's Point the steamer went to Fort Point, then back to Hunter's Point, landing some passengers at Mission No. 1 on the way, and then up the bay, as far as Benicia, returning to Mission street at 4 p.m. There were quite 250 people on the Farallon, who enjoyed the trip immensely. Captain Bonnifield (also spelled Bonifeld, Bonnifeld) was in charge and will retain command. The Farallon is 71-1/2 feet long, 33 feet beam and 10-1/2 of hold. She is fitted with triple expansion engines with 14.22 and 36-inch cylinders and 24-inch stroke. Dolbeer & Carson are the principal owners, and she will run in their trade to the Humboldt mills. (Note that this indicates that she was 71-1/2 feet long, not 171-1/2 feet long; additional information is needed.)
  • October 14, 1888: San Francisco and Humboldt under Captain Bonifeld
  • San Francisco Call: between San Francisco and Puget Sound in 1895
  • Daily Alta California, June 1, 1890: Steamer Farallon, Bonifeld, 45 hours from Yaquina Bay; pass and 5056 sacks wheat, 1518 sacks oats to C. H. Haswell, Jr. Consignees: Moore, Ferguson & Co; H. Dutard

San Francisco Call, March 28, 1895


She Has Made Traveling Cheaper than Staying At Home
CUT RATES TO THE NORTH First-Class Fares to Sound Ports Reduced to Five Dollars

One little steamer of less than 600 tons burden has been instrumental in causing a reduction in fares and freights, to Sound and Alaska points that enables passengers and shippers to save from three-quarters to two-thirds of what was paid less than two months ago, and makes traveling cheaper than remaining at home. And her advent will also effect a cut in the rates to Portland in the very near future. About two years ago the West Coast Steam Navigation Company chartered the steamship Farallon and placed her on the route between this city and Puget Sound ports. The passenger rate was placed at $15, a reduction of $5 from that charged by the regular steamers of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, and a slight reduction was also made in freight rates. Business continued to gradually increase for the Farallon, and soon she had all she could carry. Her success, however, materially interfered with the revenue of the old steamship company, which had previously had a complete monopoly of the trade.Steamship Farallon.

About two months ago the latter company inaugurated a rate war, but its cuts were each time promptly met by its plucky and daring rival with the result that passengers can now travel by water to Seattle and other sound ports in first-class style for $5 and $2.50 in the steerage whenever the Farallon sails, which is twice a month. On the sailing dates of the Farallon the old the old line puts its fare down to the same figures, but on the intermediate sailing dates of its steamers it exacts all the traffic will bear ranging from $10 to $15 for first-class accommodations to $5 to $7.50 for second class. Of late freight rates, too, have been slashed into unmercifully. Where a few months ago not a pound of merchandise was carried for less than $6 a ton, and as high as $8 was paid, shipments can now be made at the rate of $2 a ton. This is the rate on the Farallon and on the steamers of the Pacific Coast line which sail on the dates approximating these departures of the Farallon. At all other times the old rates are charged.

The direct result of this warfare has been to create an unprecedented current of travel, both to the north and to this city, as these rates hold good in either direction. The Farallon is taxed to her utmost capacity on each trip, as are also the vessels of the other line. The Farallon people, however, refuse to sell tickets to more passengers than can be accommodated with berths, while the rival company refuses no application for passage, allowing the late comers to find sleeping accommodations where best they can. The resulting reduced freights have greatly stimulated trade between this city and the sound, more particularly in lines of goods that it did not pay to ship under the old rates. Among other things coal is being brought here for $1 less per ton than usual. A connection has also been formed by the West Coast Steam Navigation Company with the Alaska Steamship Company, which operates the steamer Willapa between Port Townsend and Alaska, whereby they have forced a reduction in the passenger rates to Alaskan points from $70 to $40 in the cabin and from $17.50 to $10 in the steerage. The great rush that is now being made for the Alaska gold fields is, no doubt, in great part induced by these low fares. On next Saturday a new combatant will enter the field, the third participant being the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, which operates a line of steamers between this port and Portland.

On the day mentioned this company will adopt a reduced schedule for fares, making cabin passage $12 instead of $16, and steerage $6 in place of $8. They were unwillingly forced into the light, as many people were taking advantage of the cheap fares to sound points to go to Portland, via Seattle and Tacoma, thereby affecting a paving on the rate charged direct to Portland. If the combat is maintained much longer even the Southern Pacific may be drawn into it, on the ground of self-protection, against the reduced rates of the Oregon Railway and Navigation. On and after Saturday intending passengers for Portland will have the chance of traveling to that city at a cost of $20, exclusive of berth and meals, on the Southern Pacific's trains, or for $12, including both berth and meals, by steamer, the latter being a virtual reduction of more than one-half.

  • San Francisco Call, January 30, 1897: Steamer Farallon, Roberts, 60 hours from Yaquina Bay and way ports; pass and mdse to Meyer & Ackmann. Importations: 236 tons stone, 4144 qr sks 1162 half sks 589 bales flour, 7 cords stave bolts, 250 sks oats, 13 coops poultry, 24 pkgs chairs, 13 coops poultry, 6 coops chickens, 2 bbls salmon, 250 sks oats, 16 cs eggs, 29 sks oysters, 1 cs chimneys, 1 cs furs. Consignees: Wells, Fargo & Co; W. C. Ramsey; McDonough & Runyon; Marshall, Tegger & Co; J. McMillan; Thomas Loughran; Chas Harley & Col;Standard Oil Co; Cunningham, Curtiss & Welch; H Levi & Co; Russ, Sanders & Co; Morgan Oyster Co; J. H. Newbauer & Co; Moore, Ferguson & Co; Cal Chemical Works; A. Paladini; C. E. Whitney & Co; Russ, Early & Co; Labor Exchange; J. P. Thomas; W. C. Price & Co; Miller, Sless & Scott; McPhee & Co. Anspacher Bros.; C. J. Leist & Co; Pacific W.W. and Co; Allen & Lewis; Jonas Erianger & Co; J. D. McGilvray; C. Jacobson & Co; Pacific Commercial Co.
  • November 24, 1901, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

    Loses Two Blades of Her Propeller and Puts Into Skeena River.

    Vancouver, B.C. November 23 - The steamship City of Seattle, which arrived here this morning from Container shipping.Container shipping.Marc Levinson Skagway, brought news of a serious accident to the Alaskan liner Farallon, Captain Ord. The Farallon was found lying in shelter under the lee of Kennedy Island, at the mouth of the Skeena River, and will remain there until some steamship comes along to tow her to Seattle. The City of Seattle took the Farallon's mails and several passengers aboard and the rest of the passengers will come on the Dolphin. The Farallon was passing through driftwood just south of Wrangel Narrows on Wednesday when her propeller struck a log and two blades were stripped off before the machinery could be stopped. Then the engines raced and the steamship had to be stopped altogether. Later in the afternoon the engines were started again at half-speed, but with only a quarter of a propeller they could not be controlled, and the jarring of the ship caused her to spring a leak. The longer the machinery was kept running the more the water came into the hold, and to prevent the boat sinking, steam has to be shut off entirely. In the meantime sails were- rigged up and the vessel was held on her course to the south. She sailed all that night and next morning, and by noon had anchored off Kennedy Island.
  • San Francisco Call, November 22, 1904: Damaged Ship Reaches Port. SEATTLE. November 21 -- The steamship Farallon arrived in port this morning from Skagway with part of the port and starboard carried away. The vessel encountered one of the most severe storms in years en route south. Part of the vessel's deck cargo was also washed overboard. The steamships Cottage City and Humboldt were in the same gales.
  • Los Angeles Herald, February 10, 1910: TAHOMA SAILS ON SEARCH. Seattle. Feb 9 - The revenue cutter Tahoma sailed for the north today to search for the missing lifeboat of the steamer Farallon. The Tahoma will take a pilot at Seward and then proceed to Iliama bay. The steamship Victoria with most of the Farallon castaways will reach Seattle Saturday night.
  • March 23, 1910, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


    Valdez, Alaska, March 22. The Alaska Steamship Company's steamer Farallon, which went on the reef at Iliamna bay, Cook's Inlet, January 5 has gone to pieces. The engines, covered with ice, are still perched on the reef. The five men who were standing by the wreck reached the shore in small boats, built huts of driftwood and waited until taken off by the mall steamer Dora, which conveyed them to Kodiak, whence they were brought to Valdez by the steamer Portland. The men sailed for Seattle on the Victoria today.

  • April 2, 1910, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

    Member of Farallon's Crew Has Finger Blown Off

    VALDEZ, Alaska, April 1. The mail steamship Dora arrived from Unalaska today, bringing Charles Burns, the last member of the boat crew that left the camp of the castaways of the steamship Farallon at Iliamna bay, Cook inlet, after the Farallon had gone on the rocks January 5. Burns refused to accompany the remainder of the crew when they left Kadguyak bay to cross Shellkkof strait to Kodiak island, saying that he would try to reach Cold bay, on the Aleutian peninsula, and catch the Dora there. Burns set out alone in a little open dory, with a small quantity of dried salmon, which soon became exhausted, and he rowed a whole day without food. Finally Burns sighted a prospector's cabin, where he found a shotgun and ammunition. "While shooting ducks the gun, was accidentally discharged, tearing off a finger arid otherwise mutilating his hand. The tide carried away his boat, and the cooked ducks that were in it.
    Weak and hungry, Burns started on foot through the snow for Katmal, where his wounds were treated and the census enumerator carried him to Cold bay where, they arrived just in time to catch Dora At Unalaska a physician treated Burns, hand and the Dora landed him at Kodiak, his home. Burns will recover.
  • SS Fremont

    Builder: T. Birely, Philadelphia, 1850. Original Owner: Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Cost: $98,424. Wooden side-wheel steamer, 2 decks, 3 masts, carved head. 559 tons, 162 feet.

    She was sent from New York to San Francisco in 1851, where she arrived on July 29, 1851. She ran between San Francisco and Panama until the Spring of 1851 when she entered Pacific Mail s coastal service between San Francisco and the Columbia River. In 1853, she was noted as ringing 150 tons of freight along the Umpqua River in Southern Oregon.  There, settlers had occupied many of the valleys and were putting in crops, placer mining in Jackson County and nearby Northern California was successful.  Trade increased and the Fremont was billed for semi-monthly trips.  In February, 1861, she was sold to Flint and Holladay for their coastal service.

    SS Georgia

    October 11 and 13, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

    The steamship Georgia, which sailed from New York on the 5th of September, encountered a heavy gale soon after getting to sea, and sprung a leak. The hands and passengers assisted in bailing her out, and she was with difficulty enabled to reach Norfolk, Virginia, the nearest port, on the 9th. About the time of reaching here, the leak increased so rapidly that the fires were extinguished before she could be got into shoal water, and she went down in 20 feet of water. The passengers were brought to Aspinwall by the Crescent City.

    We are informed by a passenger who was on board the Georgia, that of the packages of express matter on board, sixteen packages of Wells, Fargo & Co., and twenty of Adams & Co., were thrown overboard. Had it not been for the unnecessary excitement of the passengers this loss would not have occurred, as much heavier material was on board, which would have relieved the ship much more without causing one half the loss.

    From later accounts, we learn that the Georgia had not sunk, but would leave Norfolk for New York soon after the departure of the Crescent City. .

    Particulars of the Loss of the Steamship Georgia.

    In our issue yesterday, we announced the loss of the steamer Georgia, but want of space in our columns prevented us giving the full particulars.

    As already published, the Georgia sailed from New York on the 5th inst. for Aspinwall, with the mails, passengers, and express goods for California. Shortly after getting to sea she encountered a heavy gale, which lasted several days, during which time the vessel sprung a leak.

    For some time the hands were able to keep her clear of water, but the leak gaining on them, the passengers were obliged to assist in bailing out the water with buckets, and the captain deemed it necessary to make for the nearest port, Norfolk, Virginia, which he reached with great difficulty on the 9th. About the time of reaching this port, the leak increased so rapidly as to extinguish the fires before the vessel could be got into shoal water, and almost immediately after disembarking the passengers and mails, she went down in twenty feet of water. We learn that Adams & Co.'s Express good were saved, but the majority, if not all of the other expresses, were lost. A telegraphic despatch was at once forwarded to New York, and on the 11th inst., the Crescent City was despatched thence to embark the mails and passengers at Norfolk, and bring them down to Aspinwall.

    SS Gold Hunter

    By 1852, she had been renamed Active and was running as a United States Survey steamer.

    SS Golden Age

    Builder: William H. Brown, New York, 1853. Engine: Vertical beam by Morgan Iron Works. Cost: $400,000.
    The Golden Age had quite a history before joining the Pacific Mail Steamship Company s fleet in August 1864. She was originally named the San Francisco and slated for service between Australia and Panama. She sailed from New York on September 30, 1853 and went via Liverpool, the Cape of Good Hope, King George s Sound (Australia), and Melbourne to Sydney. She operated coastal service in Australia until sailing for Panama on May 12, 1854. Pacific Mail purchased her at Panama in August 1854 and used her on their San Francisco-Panama run through 1869. She was later transferred to the Yokohama-Shanghai branch of Pacific Mail. The Golden Age was sold to the Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company in 1875 and renamed Hiroshima Maru.

    SS Golden Gate

    SS Golden Gate.Builder: William H. Webb, New York. Keel laid July 1, 1850. Engine: Two oscillating engines by Novelty Iron Works. Wooden side-wheel steamer, 3 decks, 3 masts, round stern, spread-eagle head. 2,067 tons, 269 feet x 40 feet x 30 feet 6 inches. Her wheel diameter was 33 feet 6 inches and she had a draft of 10 feet 2 inches or 13 feet 8 inches loaded.

    Her first run to San Francisco left New York in September 1851 and arrived in the City on November 19, 1851. (Note:  A second source has her leaving New York on August 2, 1851 via Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, and Panama and arriving in San Francisco on November 19, 1851.  San Francisco press hailed her as "the largest and swiftest steamer in our waters," and she was called the "finest specimen of naval architecture on the Pacific." She was seized on September 2, 1852 for taking taking on too many passengers. Apparently, along with the Columbia and SS Lewis, they had been placing more than two tiers of berths in their cabins and steerage. Her passage from Panama to San Francisco of eleven days, four hours, stood as a record until 1855. Unfortunately, like SS Brother Jonathan, even though she was fast, she was plagued with problems, including an outbreak of cholera in 1852, which resulted in 29 deaths (a second source reports 84 deaths). In 1853, she nearly collided with the Vanderbilt steamship Sierra Nevada off the coast of Mexico, her shaft cracked twice, and she went aground at Point Loma in 1854.

    January 3, 1856, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

    TWO STEAMERS -- Rates of Passage -- Number of Passengers.

    The Golden Gate, of the Panama Line, and the Uncle Sam, of the Nicaragua Line, are advertised to sail this morning at 9 o'clock, and will probably get off about noon.  The Golden Gate will take between four and five hundred passengers, and her rates of fare are in the First Cabin, $250; Second Cabin, $175; Steerage, $100.  The Uncle Sam will have about four hundred passengers, and her rates are in the First Cabin, $225; Second Cabin, $150; and in Steerage, $95.  There are a large number desiring to go down to Nicaragua, but up to a late hour yesterday, only twelve tickets had been sold.  The parties were holding back for a reduction in the price of passage, which has been fixed for this steamer at $75.  The Cortes carried down for $60.  Most of these who are negotiating for tickets to Nicaragua are from the interior.  The sad news received yesterday of the death of three well know young men from this city has cast a gloom over the wide circle of their bereaved friends, and this intelligence will have a tendency to dampen the zeal for those who may have been longing for the charms of Central America. 

    January 3, 1856, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

    The Steamer Golden Gate sailed yesterday, at half past 2 P.M., carrying about 400 passengers and $1,276,928 treasure.

    July 27, 1862: Between San Francisco and Panama, about 15 miles from Manzanillo, Mexico, fire was discovered in the engine room, and the vessel was headed for what is now called Playa de Oro to beach.  Many of the passengers sought refuge in the stern, but the flames spread in that direction, and when boats were launched in the heavy surf the occupants were crushed against the ship or drowned; the ship broke up in the surf.  Reports of between 175 and 223 passengers and crew lost their lives,  together with the baggage, mail, and nearly all the cargo of $1.4 million in specie.  Survivors arrived in San Francisco in August, and the Daily Alta California published reports of the disaster from those survivors and from Capt. W.W. Hudson and Capt. R.H. Pearson. August 6, 1862, Received August 7, 1862, 11:45 a.m. W.L. Halsey, care of Geo. K. Otis, 88 Wall Street:, New York

    I was saved from the burning ship by lashing myself to the forecastle ladder. I then jumped overboard; passing under the port wheel while the vessel was still underway. Fortunately I sustained no serious injury, and was picked up by the ship's boat. We were in the boat fully 20 hours before reaching Manzanillo. Poor Flint was lost. -- BEN J. HOLLADAY

    Holladay's injuries weren't severe, but references by others make it clear that he didn't pass under the wheel uninjured. Mrs. Thomas Gough, rescued in one of the lifeboats, was dining with Capt. Hudson when the word came to his table of a fire aboard ship. "Oh, nonsense! I don't believe it," he responded to the sailor with the news, but immediately left the table to investigate. She was in one of the first boats launched, which tossed all aboard into the sea during the failed lowering. A sailor jumped into the water, then righted the boat, after which the boat reloaded. The boat eventually began to take water, but encountering the boat of Matthew Nolan, first mate, he ordered the survivor to use a portion of Mrs. Gough's dress and handkerchiefs to top the leak.

    Nolan also organized the boats together, as several were launched while the Golden Gate was still about two miles from shore. "The first mate then ordered one of the boats to go back and taken the surplus boats in tow, and follow in the wake of the ship, which was headed for the shore," another account in the Daily Alta California relates. "All the after part of the ship was now one sheet of flame, and her passengers were all crowded into the bow."

    By the time we had reached the ship, many were ashore. After rowing about the ship until we could find no more floating there, we then went back, still searching for those who had left the ship before she struck, and found some five or six who were floating upon boards and timbers, among whom were Ben Holladay and Mr. Storms." There were a number of men floating in life preservers; Mrs. Gough's boat was full with 28 people, so those swimming to the boat were told to hang onto the sides. They rowed through the night for Manzanillo, encountering a thunderstorm around midnight. Finally the boat reached harbor around 1:30 p.m. on Monday. Other lifeboats continued to arrive through the afternoon.

    Gold valued at $300,000 was recovered from the wreck and brought to San Francisco by the Pacific Mail steamship Constitution in February 1863.

    January 23, 1863, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

    From the Wreck of the Golden Gate

    The pilot boat Potter, of San Francisco, arrived here on Sunday last from Manzanillo, having recently visited the wreck of the steamship Golden Gate.  T.J.L. Smiley, of San Francisco, who was one of the party accompanying the the pilot boat on her expedition to the wrecked steamer, has given us some interesting particulars of the excursion.  Mr. Smiley says portions of the wreck are still visible, but from observations made around and about it, he is of opinion that the sides of the vessel must have given way since the wreck, and that the treasure aboard the ill-fated steamer has drifted out, and been buried in the sand.  The New York and foreign underwriters had been to the wreck endeavoring to obtain the treasure, but had abandoned the enterprise before the Potter reached the ground.

    Mr. Smiley also gave us an interesting account of a man names Yates, an old resident of Manzanillo, who has been near the wreck a greater part of the time since the steamer was burned.  About ten days after the disaster, Yates, prompted by a desire to recover the steamer's treasure, went to the beach near where the wreck occurred, and there erected a tenement, in which he now lives.  His hopes of obtaining the treasure not having been realized, he has devoted himself to the humane occupation of interring much of the lost by the sad disaster as he might chance to fall in with. Yates keeps a careful record of each body interred by him, taking from each an article of clothing or other mark of identification, to which he gives a number corresponding to the number of the grave in which the body is buried, and thus is enabled to assist materially such parties as may be in search of the remains of lost kindred or friends.  One instance only of the efficacy of Yates' plan of procedure we will mention in detail:  Mr. Isaac Josephi, of San Francisco, had a brother who was among the lost by the Golden Gate disaster.  Immediately after learning the sad intelligence of his brother's death, Mr. Josephi telegraphed New York to ascertain if there was any particular mark about the deceased which would aid in identifying the body.  In reply he was told that his brother had had some teeth inserted by a dentist, who had placed a certain number upon the gold plate used by him.  With this information, Mr. Josephi started for the wrecked steamer, and on his arrival at the scene of the disaster, he sought and obtained an interview with Mr. Yates, and ascertained that the latter had taken the gold plate from the mouth of the deceased, and had numbered it correspondingly with the number of the grave in which he had placed the remains.  This enabled Mr. Josephi to recover his brother's body without further difficulty.  Such humane conduct as Yates has displayed is certainly commendable in a high degree, and we trust that for the troubles and privations he has sustained in his no less singular than humane undertaking, he may meet with a commensurate rewards.

    Mazatlan Cosmopolitan, Jan 1st

    Sunday, February 8, 1863, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


    Recovery of part of the Golden Gate's Treasure

    The steamer Constitution, which arrived yesterday, touched at Manzanillo on her upward trip, where she took aboard a large amount of specie, consisting of Mexican dollars. After leaving that harbor, the steamer ran down to the scene of the wreck of the Golden Gate. Here fifteen boxes, containing the sum of $820,000, being a portion of the treasure sunken on that ill-fated vessel, were taken on board. This unexpected recover was effected by the party which sailed from this port two month since, on the clipper schooner William Irelan. The gentlemen of that name was the superintendent of the enterprise, and with him a party of ten assistants. The dumb agent, which took the most active part in the securement of the money, was Commodore Allen's steam engine, called the Andrew Jackson. This being fastened on a scow, was run into the breakers and secured. The water here is about twelve feet deep. The dredger was then set in motion and the dredging process began. The engine worked so quickly and powerfully that twenty-eight hundred pounds of sand or other materials were raised per minute by the dredger. This work was done over the supposed locality of the treasure vault, which, although broken up, the boxes would, of course remain in a narrow compass. The sand being partially removed, the diver would descend; and finding a box, fasten it to the lines, when the machinery would hoist it aboard. A steam pump and hose were also used in cleaning off the sand from the submerged boxes. The weather was fine, sea calm, and everything favorable for continued successful operations. After seven days labor the sum of $820,000 was secured, and when the Constitution left, the work was progressing so favorably as to justify the sanguine expectations of the Company, who believe that a million of treasure will be saved. We have been informed that a number of the boxes as soon as hoisted, were seized by a bank of prowling Mexicans and bore off. The amount thus stolen, as represented to us, was $200,000. The Constitution passed within two or three ships' length from the wreck. The schooner lay at anchor some fifty or sixty yards from the shore. It is not impossible that the entire amount of treasure still buried will be recovered within the 60 days next ensuing. The sum brought up on the steamer, and which belongs to the enterprising experimentalists of the city was duly deposited in the banking house of Parrott & Co. We are not surprised that other unsuccessful parties, who had embarked heavily in a similar expedition, feel somewhat chagrined that they came so near reaping the first fruits of their pioneer efforts in endeavoring to draw up the drowned dollars.

    SS Goliah

    Builder: William H. Webb, New York, 1848. Walking beam steamer with large paddle wheels. She was the second American vessel built expressly as a tug, she was generally used as a passenger steamer. She rounded the Horn from New York to California in 1851, and ferried passengers up and down the Sacramento River and along the Pacific Coast, undergoing reconstruction and enlargement in the process. In 1864, Captain Millen Griffith purchased her and placed her in service as a tug. In 1871 she was sold for service in Puget Sound where she operated until 1899.

    SS Granada

    From Hutchings California Magazine, Vol. IV, No. 12 June 1860.

    The ill-fated Steamer Granada, wrecked upon the rocks at Fort Point on the night of October 13, 1860. The Granada was a vessel of about 1400 tons, six years old, and had been running in the line between Aspinwall and Havana. She was one of the two vessels, the Moses Taylor being the other, purchased by Marshall O. Roberts and intended for the Pacific side of the new line between San Francisco and the Atlantic States by way of Tehuantepec. She left New York on her way to San Francisco on July 14, 1860, came through the Straits of Magellan, and after 14,000 miles of ocean voyage, without an accident, was wrecked upon endeavoring to enter her harbor of destination.

    She had taken on board a pilot before passing Point Lobos, and it was doubtless owing to his rashness that the vessel was lost. He attempted to bring her in at evening and during a very heavy fog. A short time before the vessel struck, he had ordered a full head of steam to be turned on; and the ship was going at full speed when breakers were observed at her bow. The order was given to reverse the engines, but it was too late; she was already firmly imbedded in the sand and on the rocks -- and there she remained.

    There was no freight and no passengers on board but a son of Mr. Roberts. There was no loss of life. Strenuous attempts with steam-tugs and by pumping were made to save the steamer, but all failed and the wreck was dis-masted. It was sold at auction "for the benefit of whom it might concern" on October 18th for $9,400; ad measures were immediately taken to remove the engines, boilers and other valuable parts.

    The rocky shore where the wreck lies has become famous for wrecks. It is the same where several previous ones took place, among them the Jenny Lind and Golden Fleece, the Chateau Palmer only a few years ago, and the General Cushing. The ship Euterpe went ashore there a few months since, but was fortunately recovered.


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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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