Ships in Port. 1800s.

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Vaquero (Steamer)

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.

Dr. Samuel Merritt, Lumber and Proprietor of the steamer Vaquero

December 11, 1865, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California: Steamer Vaquero: 80 qtr. sacks flour Curtis & Allen.

May 2, 1866, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.: Samuel Davis, of Clinton, Alameda county, fell overboard and was drowned off the steamer Vaquero yesterday; body not recovered.

June 26, 1867, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.: Steamer Vaquero: 150 qr. sks flour. Jos Bassett.

December 2, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: Steamer Vaquero, 100 sks potatoes to order.

July 13, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: Steamer Vaquero, 190 qr sks flour. Jos. Bassett.

January 20, 1868, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California: Steamer Vaquero: 40 bales straw to order.

March 17, 1868, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Bambar & Co.'s Express receive freight in San Francisco and deliver it at either the store or residence of the consignee in Oakland for one dollar per ton, and Dr. Merritt's natty little steamer Vaquero carries at the same rate. The rate of passage is 25 cents for a single fare, which will carry the passenger ten miles, or a commutation ticket may be had for $5 per month, or about 8 cents a trip, making the cheapest rates both for passage and freight in the United States. But whether the charges of existing lines are too high or not, no good purpose can be served or the evil complained of remedied, by imposing on the business the highest tax known to the history of commerce, which the bill in question most unjustly seeks to do. ~ Taxpayer.

April 18, 1870, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: The steamer Vaquero took a full cargo of hay and grain to San Diego from Wilmington. The trade on the coast, south, to San Diego has increased nearly four times within a year.

In 1860, the marshy lagoon that became Newport Harbor was first reported by the U.S. Coastal survey schooner HUMBOLDT, warning of "..a narrow mouth 50 yards in width blocked by a narrow bar and a frightful swell rolling at all stages of the tide, making it dangerous to cross in boats of any kind". Ten years later, Captain Samuel S. Dunnels ignored the warning and brought his small stern wheel steamer, VAQUERO, over the dangerous bar and established a small shipping business just across the channel from where the museum now stands. A "New Port" was established, and the name stuck.

Newport Beach, Orange County

May 29, 1870, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Steamer Prince Alfred. -- The following was received at the Merchants' Exchange yesterday: News from San Diego of the 27th inst., reports that the steamer Prince Alfred, from Central America for San Francisco, put into San Quentin, Lower California, on the 22d inst., short of coal. She experienced a heavy gale off that port and was 12 hours with no coal. The steamer Vaquero left San Diego on the night of the 27th with 45 tons of coal, with which the Prince Alfred will come up to San Diego and receive coal from the next steamer from San Francisco, and proceed."

June 2, 1870, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.: Yesterday the Captain of the steamer Prince Alfred arrived here overland from San Quentin, where he had to stop his vessel, having exhausted his provision of coal. The useful little steamer Vaquero is ready to depart this morning to render assistance, and the Orizaba is to help out with some of her own supply of fuel.

Newport Bay, California Nautical Chart.

September 10, 1870: Captain Samuel Sumner Dunnels (1824-1903) guided his 105-ton, flat-bottomed steamer Vaquero into the virtually unexplored Newport Bay, then known as San Joaquin Bay heavily loaded with 5,000 shingles and 5,000 feet of lumber from San Diego. He was successful, and Newporters finally had a source of needed supplies. Before long, he established "Newport Landing" by constructing a small wharf and warehouse near the west end of today's Newport Bay Bridge.

It was in 1870 that the little steamer Vaquero, commanded by Captain Dunnells, came into Newport Bay for the first time, she being a flat bottomed boat was able to steam up the bay to the big basin, where an improvised wharf was made where she could unload and load her cargo.

My father rode down through the tall mustard across the mesa on horseback the day the steamer came in, to arrange for shipping some potatoes to San Diego. On his return home he marked out the road to be to the landing by gathering dry cattle bones and placing them in piles on prominent places along the way to designate the course to the steamer.

When we were ready to deliver our potatoes father rode ahead on horseback and I drove the team, following him; that made our first delivery to the little steamer Vaquero in Newport Harbor. This little steamer burned wood for fuel and John Cubbon and Dan Boyd, both living in Santa Ana today, contracted with Captain Dunnells to supply wood for the return voyage. I remember seeing them pass our home place daily while the steamer was in harbor, driving a “spike team” hauling wood to the steamer.

Walter B. Bedford
1920 Remembrances,
Orange County History Series, Volume 1 (1931)

September 16, 1870, Sacramento Daily Union: A new landing has been discovered near the mouth of the Santa Anna river, in Los Angeles county, where the steamer Vaquero has landed a cargo of lumber.

March 14, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California: The old steamer Vaquero was sold by the United States Marshal lately, at auction, for $600.

May 12, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

The suit of Samuel Merritt of Oakland against the Central Pacific Railroad Company to recover $300 per month for two years, agreed to be paid by the Oakland and San Francisco company previous to the consolidation, in consideration of withdrawing his steamboat Vaquero from the San Antonio Creek route, was May 9th, decided in the third District Court in favor of defendant.

August 16, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento: COMMERCIAL -- Arrived yesterday, steamer Vaquero, Bradbury, from San Francisco, with barge load of lumber for N. L. Drew & Co.


July 13, 1874, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California: It is in contemplation to make a new landing for the steamer Vaquero in East Napa, just below Third-street bridge.

October 6, 1874, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Legal Notices

UNITED STATES MARSHAL'S SAL -- STEAMER "VAQUERO" -- United States of America, District of California, ss -- By virtue of a write of venditioni exponas, to me directed, issued from the District Court of the United States for the District of California, at the suit of J.C. Hamilton against the Steamer "Vaquero," her tackle, apparel, and furniture, I am commanded to sell the above named steamer "Vaquero," &c., in accordance with a decree dated the 29th day of September, A.D. 1874, pronounced in said Court; I hereby give public notice that on TUESDAY, the 6th day of October, A.D. 1874, at 12 o'clock noon, in front of the United States Court Rooms, Old Merchants' Exchange, corner of Washington and Battery streets, in the city of San Francisco, I will sell the above named steamer, etc. (now lying in Napa River, at the city of Napa,) to the highest bidder for cash, payable in U.S. gold coin at the time of the sale.

U. S. Marshal

November 23, 1876, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

U.S. District Court: In the United District Court, a final decree of distribution has been rendered in the case of B. H. Randell et al. vs. the Steamer "Vaquero." George E. Long, Assignee in Bankruptcy of F. F. Temple, has been made party complainant in the case of Volney E. Howard and Wm. Temple, Administrator, etc., vs. D. Freeman and E. F. Spence.

December 13, 1876, Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, California: A son of Engineer Hendry, of the steamer Vaquero, was accidentally killed at Moss Landing.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
The Sea Chart.
John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. John Blake looks at the history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation.

This work contains 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by thirteenth-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as eighteenth-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Shanghaiing Days
The Thrilling Account of 19th Century Hell-Ships, Bucko Mates and Masters, and Dangerous Ports-Of-Call from San Francisco
Shanghaiing Days in San Francisco.
Richard H. Dillon
An Amazon Editors' Favorite: In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the American Merchant Marine went into a tragic decline, and sailors were forced to serve under conditions that were little better than serfdom. Seamen were exploited in wholesale fashion, disfranchised of almost all their civil and human rights, and brutally punished for even minor offenses. Successful skippers had turned into slave drivers, cracking down on the sailors, sometimes even murdering their "hands." Though captains were legally prohibited from flogging their crews, they did not hesitate to wield belaying pins, marlin spikes, or their bare fists. The seamen's lot became so horrible in this period that entire crews frequently jumped ship when a vessel came into port. One result of this was that new crews had to be kidnaped, crimped, or shanghaied from the unsuspecting populace of the ports. These "impressed" or "hobo" crews were still further conspired against. They often had their wages stolen from them; they were poorly fed and clothed. Their lives became "hell afloat and purgatory ashore." In this way what had been our "first and finest employ" in colonial days was turned into a disreputable profession-one that was classed with criminals and prostitutes.

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Storiessea captains and ships.Shanghaiiing Days.
Simon Winchester
"Variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring. A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account." —Kirkus Reviews
Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the New York Times bestselling author tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution. Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores — whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south — the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. Atlantic is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast.

Annapolis Book of Seamanship.The Annapolis Book of Seamanship
Fourth Edition
Annapolis Book of Seamanship.
John Rousmaniere
Since the publication of the first edition in 1983, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship has set the standard by which other books on sailing are measured. Used throughout America as a textbook in sailing schools and Power Squadrons, this book covers the fundamental and advanced skills of modern sailing. This edition of Annapolis is a major overhaul. Over half the book has been revised; old topics and features have been updated, and many new ones have been introduced, with the design modernized, and additional color illustrations.

A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters
A Sea Captain's Adventures.A Sea Captain's Adventures.
Max Hardberger
Seized takes readers behind the scenes of the multibillion dollar maritime industry, as Hardberger recounts his efforts to retrieve freighters and other vessels from New Orleans to the Caribbean, from East Germany to Vladivostak, Russia, and from Greece to Guatemala. He resorts to everything from disco dancing to women of the night to distract the shipyard guards, from bribes to voodoo doctors to divert attention and buy the time he needs to sail a ship out of a foreign port without clearance. Seized is adventure nonfiction at its best.

The Rebel Raiders
The Astonishing History of the Confederacy's Secret NavyShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
James T. deKay
During its construction in Liverpool, the ship was known as “Number 290.”
The Rebel Raiders.When it was finally unleashed as the CSS Alabama, the Confederate gunship triggered the last great military campaign of the Civil War; yet another infamous example of British political treachery; and the largest retribution settlement ever negotiated by an international tribunal: $15,500,000 in gold paid by Britain to the United States. This riveting true story of the Anglo-Confederate alliance that led to the creation of a Southern navy illuminates the dramatic and crucial global impact of the American Civil War. Like most things in the War between the States, it started over cotton: Lincoln’s naval blockade prevented the South from exporting their prize commodity to England. In response, the Confederacy came up with a plan to divert the North’s vessels and open the waterways–a plan that would mean covertly building a navy in Britain with a cast of clandestine characters.

Latin America, World Journeys, Discovery.The Age of Sail.Commodore Levy: A Novel of Early America in the Age of Sail
(Modern Jewish History)
By all accounts, Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy, was both a principled and pugnacious man. On his way to becoming a flag officer, he was subjected to six courts-martial and engaged in a duel, all in response to antisemitic taunts and harassment from his fellow officers. Yet he never lost his love of country or desire to serve in its navy. When the navy tried to boot him out, he took his case to the highest court and won. This richly detailed historical novel closely follows the actual events of Levy’s life: running away from his Philadelphia home to serve as a cabin boy at age ten; his service during the War of 1812 aboard the Argus and internment at the notorious British prison at Dartmoor;  his campaign for the abolition of flogging in the Navy; and his purchase and restoration of Monticello as a tribute to his personal hero, Thomas Jefferson. Set against a broad panorama of U.S. history, Commodore Levy describes the American Jewish community from 1790 to 1860, the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, and the great nautical traditions of the Age of Sail before its surrender to the age of steam.

History of Seafaring. Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen.History of Seafaring.The History of Seafaring:
Navigating the World's Oceans
Navigating the World's Oceans.
Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen
Royal prestige, intellectual curiosity, and territorial expansion all propelled mankind to undertake perilous voyages across unpredictable oceans. This large and lavishly illustrated volume brings that history to life. From the early Phoenician navigation techniques to the technologies behind today's mega-ships, the greatest advances in shipbuilding are covered, accompanied by hundreds of images, with an in-depth look at navigational instruments (including those used by the Vikings).

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

The Project

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




Kindly Contribute to help us provide new information for you.


DALevy @
164 Robles Way
Suite 237
Vallejo, CA 94591

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.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.