VIPS in the Port of San Francisco

Alexander Hay

Daily Alta California, July 17, 1887, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


A Steamers' Trial-Trip -- A New Schooner for Coast Trade.

. . . The new steamer Point Arena made her trial trip yesterday around the bay, under command of Captain Heschen, formerly of the schooner William Renton. The Point Arena was built by Alexander Hay for the lumber trade . . .

Daily Alta California, July 16, 1887, San Francisco

A Schooner Launched.

The schooner Catalina was launched at 7:30 o'clock last evening at the foot of Fifth street. The launch was very successful. The schooner will load and sail in a few days for Catalina Island, where she and her sister boat, the San Pedro, will be employed for some weeks in transporting stone from thence to San Pedro harbor. Alexander Hay is the builder of both vessels for Captain Edward A. Von Schmidt, who will employ them on Government work at the island.

Daily Alta California , January 1, 1888, San Francisco


A Pacific Coast Industry Which Shows a Steady Increase
Spent on Vessels During 1887
Four Million Dollars' Worth of Work for the New Year

With a seaboard of 1810 miles, indented by some of the finest harbors in the world; with large forests of pine, spruce, hemlock and fir; with immense undeveloped resources in the useful metals; with a population energetic, far-sighted and increasing, the Pacific Coast promises to become one of the greatest shipbuilding districts of the world. Every year since '49 has shown an increase in this industry and it may well be believed that had there not been each a decline in the ship-building of the whole United States since 1865, the Pacific Coast might now have been able to point with pride to a fleet of ocean traders whose ribs had first grown on the slopes of the Sierras and whose tapering spars and masts had been felled in the gloomy forests bordering on the Sound. But since cheap European vessels have supplanted American bottoms until they have been forced out of the carrying trade of the world and obliged to end their days in the coasting, coal and lumber trade, the attention of ship-builders has been turned to supplying the demand for coast vessels.

The exclusion of foreign bottoms from coast trade and the great increase of that trade has fostered the growth of the fleet of home traders until the United States can now point with pride to her coasting fleet as the finest in the world. Nowhere, however, has this growth been more noticeable than on the Pacific seaboard, and at no time so much as daring the past year. Every shipyard on the Coast has been actively engaged, and the year 1887 has seen more vessels launched than any previous year since '49. Most of the vessels turned out have been, of course, for the lumber trade, and they range all the way from twenty tons to five hundred tons. The fore-and-aft rig is preferred as being easier to handle.

Of late, however, owing to the increased tonnage of fore-and-aft vessels it has been found necessary to put four masts in them instead of three, thus rendering them easier to be handled. The first four-masted schooner built on this coast was the Novelty, which was launched in 1886 from the yard of A.M. Simpson & Bros., at North Bend, Oregon.

The name exactly fits the vessel. An almost straight bow, four stump masts, and no bowsprit renders her as ugly a craft as plies in the lumber trade. Despite her ugliness she has proved a successful vessel. She has a capacity of 800,000 feet of lumber and registers 584 tons. Since the Novelty was launched several other four-masted schooners have been built, but the owners and builders have not followed out the plan of the first vessel. They have given their craft topmasts and bowsprits, thus rendering them attractive as well as useful.

A few three-masted schooners turned out during the past year have equalled the fourmasters in size. Among these may be mentioned the Fred E. Sander, built by Hall at Port Blakeley on the Sound, and the W. F. Jewett, built at Port Ludlow. The net tonnage of the former is 440.30 and of the latter 452.49, making her the largest three-masted schooner on the coast.

The demand for steam schooners has of late very much increased. This class of vessels has almost as much sail area as the ordinary schooner, but is also supplied with powerful auxiliary engines and propeller, which enables her to take advantage of calms and bold her own in the teeth of a gale. During the summer, tug-boats were constantly employed in towing lumber-laden crafts from, port to port. There are now ten steam schooners in the lumber trade, of which seven were built during 1887. They have been found very useful.

With the completion of the Union Iron Works Ship Yard the facilities for constructing iron steamships have been immensely increased. Before it was opened there was not an iron-ship building yard on the coast. The first large steamer constructed here was built of wood and cost $260,000. This was the Mexico. She was launched from the yard of Dickey Brothers in February, 1882, for the California and Mexican Steamship Company. She is 28O feet long, thirty-six feet beam, twenty-one feet deep and 2000 tons. The completion of the Union Iron Works shipyard gave a greater impetus to the ship-building industry of this coast than anything else. It was generally thought East that there were no facilities here for building vessels. When Irving M. Scott bid for cruiser number two he was, as he himself has said, laughed at. Not a single iron vessel of any capacity had been built in San Francisco, and the idea of awarding the contract for a huge cruiser to the Union Iron Works was criticized as absurd.

Nevertheless Mr. Scott was awarded the contract; the vessel will be finished by August next, and in the meantime the keel of cruiser No. 5 is being laid. The work and material put into these vessels is as good if not better than that used in the Eastern yards. The second deck is being put in the Charleston at the present time. Much of the material for cruiser was already purchased. The awarding of this contract is evidence of increased faith on the part of the government in the ship-building of the Pacific coast.

"Secretary Whitney complimented me," said Mr. Scott in a recent interview, "upon the progress made by California in ship-building, and stated that the steel we were putting into the Charleston was of first-class quality. The President, too, is anxious to accord all possible advantages to the Pacific Coast in the shape of building future ships of war." This is a good sign for the future.

Independent of the work on the cruiser a prodigious amount has been accomplished upon private vessels. The Premier was built for the Canadian Pacific. She is of steel 602.05 net and 1080.53 gross tonnage, and as fine a piece of marine architecture as could be turned out in any shipyard in the world. The San Pablo was so entirely rebuilt that she is included in the list of new vessels given below. The Umatilla, which originally plied in the coal trade and was sunk in 1884 off Cape Flattery, was transformed into a splendid passenger boat. In fact she was completely rebuilt so that no one would recognize the old collier in the trim, neat passenger steamer. The City of Peking and Colima both both had new boilers put in, and the State of California was thoroughly overhauled with the new lifting dock of the Union Iron Works is a novelty on this coast and in the United States. This dock will lift a vessel 435 feet long very much quicker than the water can be pumped out of a dry dock. It is in increasing demand, as Hunter's Point dry dock can only take vessels of limited size. I understood that this dock will be lengthened in the near future.

While on the subject of docks it would be well to mention the Mare Island graving dock in which the French cruiser Duquesne, a vessel of upwards of 5000 tons displacement, was recently so successfully docked. The facing of the graving dock with granite will soon be completed, and then San Francisco, provided with every facility for building, repairing and docking ships of the largest size, will become a naval station of the greatest importance.

Mr. Henry T. Scott, in conversation with a reporter, stated that the prospects for the new year were excellent. The new steamer for Captain Knowles will be finished early in the summer. The collier Walla Walla is to be converted into a passenger steamer like the Umatilla. Then, as already mentioned, the Charleston will be finished and cruiser No. 5 commenced. All these contracts will necessitate the employment of a larger force of men than ever. When asked what the prospects on the coast were as regarded ship-building, Mr. Scott said he thought they were very good. "The only disadvantage we labor under," said he "is the manufacture of plates, but as a mill is to be started this year we will soon be able to purchase them here as cheaply as in the East." A great quantity comes from England: we can get them that way cheaper than from Pittsburg."

To the question, "Can you build an iron ship here as cheap as they can East?" Mr. Scott replied:

"Well, no, not quite as cheap. Labor is very much dearer here than there, but of course that will regulate itself in time. We can build an iron ship here, though, as cheap as they can build one East and deliver it here."

Recently there was launched from the North Beach shipyard the ferry-boat Encinal. She is larger than the Newark and is at present in Alameda. Then there are at the present time on the ways at Alexander Hays shipyard four steam schooners, and two more at the yard of Borle & Benton. Charles G. White has one steam schooner and a schooner at North Beach. There are two schooners at Matthew Turner's yard at Benicia. One of these is to be called the Conficienza and is about eighty tons; the other has been in the frame for the last two months and is about one hundred and twenty five tons register. These, with the two cruisers and two iron steamers to be built at the Union Iron Works, raises the total valuation of the vessels in course of construction to something between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000. There were also constructed last year by Alexander Hay four dredgers for the state. Three of these cost $20,000 each and the fourth $40,000, making a total of $100,000. The total valuation of vessels built during 1887 is estimated at $2,000,000.

On Puget Sound there has also been' great activity in the ship-building' industry. It was impossible to obtain a full list of the vessels built there, but among them were five fine vessels built by W. G. Hall at Port Blakeley. These were the bark S. J. Wilder, 600.17 tons, Barkentine Robert Sudden, 625 tons, and schooners F. S. Redfield, Lizzie Vance, 540 tons, Fred E. Sander, 463.47 tons. The W. F. Jewett, 476.30 tons, was built at Port Ludlow and the steamer J. M. Colman at Seattle.

American Steam Yacht Namouna, 1882.

American Steam Yacht Namouna, 1882.

Namouna, 616 gross ton steam yacht, was built at Newburgh, New York, in 1882. Her owner, the very wealthy New York newspaper man James Gordon Bennett, lived in France, and Namouna frequently operated in European waters. Bennett used her as a base for lavish entertainment, a role for which her well-appointed furnishings made her particularly suitable. Replaced by a larger yacht in 1900, Namouna was soon sold to the Colombian Navy and renamed General Pinzon.

Through the courtesy of Surveyor of the Port Tinnin and Chauncey M. St. John, United States Measurer of Vessels, the Alta has been enabled to compile the table presented herewith, which is a complete list of the vessels built on the Pacific coast during the past year documented at this port. The register tonnage counts 100 cubic feet to the ton, and under the Act of 1882 the documents of vessels must show the gross and net tonnage. There is but little difference between the gross and net tonnage in sailing vessels as compared with steamers, as in the latter the space occupied by the engines is deducted from the gross. Thus. in the schooner Antelope the gross tonnage is 123.98 and the net 117.79, a difference of 6.19 tons only; whereas the difference in the gross and net tonnage of the steamer Point Arena is 51.91, she being 223.54 gross and 171.63 net tonnage. The total gross tonnage built during 1887 amounts to 17,629.27 tons and the net to 13,908.61 tons. This is an actual carrying capacity of about 18,544 tons, allowing one-third more than the gross tonnage, and 34,770 tons shipping measurement at 40 cubic feet to the ton, the value amounting, as stated, before, to upwards of $2,000,000.

Shipbuildng in California January 1888.

Daily Alta California , September 26, 1889

Three New Incorporations.

The Pacific Gold Milling and Mining Company of Nevada county has incorporated. Directors: Frederick H. Hawsman, Walter Speyer, Alexander Hay, James H. Munday and Frederick K. Shawhan. Capital stock $2,500,000, in 100,000 shares, of which fifty have been subscribed.

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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