San Francisco Bay Ferryboats - Preserved Boats

by Joe Thompson

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Several classic San Francisco Bay ferry boats have been preserved in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Here are a few of which I am aware.

Here are some others I have not had a chance to write about.

I welcome information about these and other preserved boats.


Berkeley

Berkeley Berkeley at the Ferry Building.

Berkeley in San Diego Bill Roddy took this photograph of Berkeley at the San Diego Maritime Museum in March, 2003. Please visit his America Hurrah. (Copyright 2003 by Bill Roddy. All rights reserved.)

Berkeley, launched at the Union Iron Works on 18-Oct-1898, was an early propeller-driven ferry. Most San Francisco bay ferry boats built before her, and most built for twenty years after her, used paddle wheels. Berkeley's perceived poor performance discouraged companies from building other propeller-driven boats for several years.

The Southern Pacific used Berkeley mostly in San Francisco-Oakland service. After she retired in 1958, Berkeley was docked in Sausalito for many years and served as a floating mall, called the Trade Fair. The shops, which I don't remember, were on the main deck. The cabin deck, with a stained-glass clerestory, looked just as it did when she carried passengers. Berkeley moved to San Diego in 1973 and is now displayed at the San Diego Maritime Museum. In the Spring of 2003, Berkeley left her berth at the museum to receive a waterproofing treatment on her thinning hull.

Berkeley as Trade FairBerkeley moored in Sausalito as the Trade Fair.

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City of Sacramento (was also Asbury Park, Kahloke, and Langdale Queen)

City of Sacramento Steamer City of Sacramento.

The twin-screw steamer Asbury Park was built in 1903 for service in New Jersey. The Monticello Steamship Company brought her to California to provide fast service between San Franciso and Vallejo. Monticello renamed her City of Sacramento in 1925 and rebuilt her to handle autos.

Puget Sound Navigation operated the single-ended steamer on the Bremerton run until after World War II. They renamed her Kahloke, rebuilt her as a diesel-electric and transferred her to Black Ball Lines Canada. BC Ferries later renamed her Langdale Queen. She was retired in 1976 and at last report sits abandoned on the Vancouver waterfront.

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Eureka

EurekaEureka under Northwestern Pacific ownership (no thumbnail).

Eureka was the largest passenger ferry on San Francisco Bay. Eureka was rebuilt in 1921-1922 from the Ukiah, a ferry boat built in 1890 by the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad.

Eureka is preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, at the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco.

NWP Herald Northwestern Pacific herald on Eureka. October, 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Eureka at Hyde Street Pier Eureka at the Hyde Street Pier. October, 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Eureka Pilothouse Eureka's pilothouse. October, 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Eureka Hull Eureka's hull is very slim. The much wider main deck is sponsoned out over it. Taken from ocean going tug Hercules. October, 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

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Fresno (was also Willapa)

Fresno as Willapa Willapa (former Fresno) on Puget Sound.

Fresno was built in 1927 for the Southern Pacific as an auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Willapa.

As with the Enetai, Puget Sound Navigation reengined Willapa, replacing her diesel-electric drive with a with direct drive diesel engine and made her single-ended. She started on the Seattle-Bremerton run in 1941. Washington State Ferries retired Willapa for the same reasons they retired Enetai in 1968; she was single ended and expensive to operate.

Willapa returned to San Francisco, where she was restored to her original appearance and her original name. She was docked in Alameda. She was owned by Cable Car Charters. At various times, she was going to be made into a restaurant near Antioch and later near Sacramento. In May, 2002, Peter Jenny reported she was moored by Decker Island on Horseshoe Bend, visible from Highway 160.

In August 2002, she was moored in Richmond, available for sale, along with the hull of the San Leandro.

In August, 2008, Robert Mann photographed a ferry moored along the Delta and asked about. The boat turned out to be Fresno. In the lively discussion which followed on WestCoastFerryboats, it turned out that Fresno is currently owned by Parker Oceanic.

In September, 2010, Gene Poon determined that Parker Oceanic had announced plans, in September, 2009, to salvage both boats for scrap steel. Steve Pickens reported that both had been in the process of being cut up in December, 2009. Thank you to the members of WestCoastFerryboats for sharing all this information.

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Illahee (formerly Lake Tahoe)

Illahee as Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe approaches the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge, the reason it left for Puget Sound. (Source: San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, AAD-2002).

Lake Tahoe was built in 1927 for the Southern Pacific as a diesel-electric auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Illahee. Like Nisqually, Illahee was almost lost in a winter storm while sailing up the coast to Puget Sound.

Unlike Enetai and Willapa, Puget Sound Navigation left her double-ended. She started on the Suquamish/Indianola/Seattle run and then went to the Winslow, Bainbridge Island to Seattle and Kingston-Edmonds runs. Washington State Ferries rebuilt Illahee in the 1980's.

An inspection in November, 2007 determined that Illahee's hull needed to be replaced. This inspection and a similar finding on the Quinault led to a decision that all four boats of the Steel Electric class, the oldest salt water ferries operating in America.

Illahee was declared retired on 13-December-2007. In September, 2008, Washington State Ferries sold her to Environmental Recycling Systems, which will scrap her in Mexico.

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Kalakala (formerly Peralta)

KalakalaKalakala approaching her slip in Seattle Harbor.

Several San Francisco Bay ferry boats went on to new careers in Puget Sound. The most famous is the streamlined ferry Kalakala.

The boat that became Kalakala was launched from the Moore Dry Dock Company on San Francisco Bay as the Peralta in 14-Oct-1926. Peralta and her sister boat, the Yerba Buena, looked like convential, double-ended San Francisco ferry boats, but they incorporated several modern features. They were considered fireproof and unsinkable. The boats were considered unburnable because they were built entirely of steel, except for the pilot houses, which had to be made of wood to reduce magnetic interference with the compasses. They were considered unsinkable because the part of the deck that extended beyond the hull was hollow and would provide enough buoyancy to support the boat if the hull flooded. The boats used turbo electric drive, and they had a unique feature: a ballast tank at each of the boat that could be used to adjust the trim when passengers preparing to debark rushed to one end.

Both boats served the Key System between the Key Pier in Oakland the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Yerba Buena led a quiet life until Key System ferry service ended with the start of rail service on the Bay Bridge. Key used her to haul passengers to the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Then the Army Transportation Corps used her around the bay until the mid-50's. She was scrapped in 1957.

Yerba BuenaPeralta's luckier twin sister, Yerba Buena.

Peralta, on the other hand, had a reputation as a bad luck boat. She stuck on the ways while being launched. Sailors consider this a bad omen. On 17-Feb-1928, while on her way to Oakland, her foredeck, jammed with people heading home from work, dipped into the bay. Five people drowned. It was never proved, but the ballast trim tank at the Oakland end may have been left filled when the boat left San Francisco. Key stopped using the tanks after that.

Peralta's worst day came on Saturday, 06-May-1933, when the Key Pier burst into flames. Peralta was tied up for the night, with no steam in her boilers. The fire tore rapidly through the pier and virtually melted the fireproof superstructure of the Peralta.

Key System's insurance company sold the remains to the Puget Sound Navigation Company (The Black Ball Line), which had them towed to Seattle for rebuilding into a new and special boat.

The rebuilt boat emerged from the Lake Washington Shipyard as the Kalakala ("Flying Bird") on 02-Jul-1935. She was now single-ended, diesel-driven, and equipped for hauling 100 autos on her main deck. Her most interesting feature was a streamlined superstructure that some people claim was designed by Boeing engineers.

Kalakala served as a nationally known symbol of Seattle. Initially, she ran from Seattle to Bremerton. In 1955, the Puget Sound Navigation Company was taken over by the state owned Washington State Ferry System. From 1955 to 1960, she was mostly assigned to the Port Angeles to Victoria route. Then she returned to Seattle-Bremerton. She made her last ferry trip on 02-Oct-1967.

In 1968, Kalakala was towed to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to be used as a crab processing plant. In 1969, she moved to Ouzinkie, Alaska and then in 1972 she was beached in Gibson Cove in Kodiak, Alaska and modified to process shrimp.

Peter Bevis, a Seattle sculptor, saw Kalakala at Gibson Cove in 1984 and was fascinated. He first set foot aboard her in 1988.

In 1995, Bevis founded The Kalakala Foundation to bring Kalakala back to Seattle and restore her. He got title to her on 23-Jun-1998. On 06-Nov-1998, she returned to Seattle after a perilous voyage from Alaska. The Foundation hopes to make her into a permanent convention center and tourist attraction on the Seattle waterfront. Bevis slept aboard the boat for some time she was vandalized.

The Kalakala Foundation had trouble finding a place to keep the boat and to raise the money to restore her. Peter Bevis was voted off the board on Christmas Day, 2002 and the Foundation entered bankrupty in March, 2003.

On 13-Sep-2003, Charles Medlin purchased Kalakala at auction. He planned to bring her to San Francisco Bay and use her as part of a floating auto museum. Medlin was declared in default when he did not pay the full amount in time. Medlin claims that the sellers did not establish that they had clear title.

In early October, Tumwater developer Steve Rodrigues emerged as the buyer. He announced plans to keep her in Puget Sound as a waterfront attraction, and perhaps sail her around. We'll see what happens.

In December, 2011, Kalakala, moored in Tacoma, was offerred for sale for $1.00 (one dollar). The owner of the berth wanted the boat removed by the end of the year. An anonymous person bought it and expressed a wish to restore the boat.

In January, 2012, a severe storm blew Kalakala into a barge and caused severe damage. The Army Corps of Engineers made emergency plans in case the boat has to be stabilized and moved. If they have to do that, the boat will be scrapped.

Thanks to Val Golding for providing an interesting set of newspaper clippings about Kalakala. See some of the articles in the bibliography.

Kalakala cruisingKalakala cruising at speed.

Kalakala interiorKalakala cabin deck interior.

Kalakala lunch counterKalakala lunch counter.

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Klamath

Klamath, was built in 1925 for the Southern Pacific. She served as an auto ferry for Southern Pacific and Southern Pacific/Golden Gate Ferries until 1939 and then the Richmond-San Rafael Ferry until 1956.

In 1964, Klamath was remodeled and docked at Pier 5 to serve as headquarters of Walter Landor Associates, the design company that created the San Francisco Municipal Railway's "worm" logo and white and orange paint scheme.

muni logoThe Muni "worm" logo, designed by Walter Landor Associates.

In 1988, Landor Associates needed more room and moved out. Duraflame, Inc purchased Klamath in 1992 and moved her to Stockton to serve as a corporate conference center.

Klamath in Stockton Klamath in Stockton. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

In March, 2002 I went to Stockton to see if I could catch a glimpse of Klamath. She sits by the river in a spot that is difficult to see from the gate. She looks much as she did in San Francisco.

Klamath sign Sign outside the "Klamath Ferry Harbor" in Stockton. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

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Klickitat (formerly Stockton)

Klickitat Klickitat (formerly Stockton) on Puget Sound.

Stockton was built in 1927 for the Southern Pacific as an auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Klickitat.

Unlike Enetai and Willapa, Puget Sound Navigation left her double-ended. She started on the Kingston-Edmonds-Port Ludlow and then went to the San Juan Islands run. Washington State Ferries rebuilt Klickitat in 1981. Klickitat was last in service on the Port Townsend-Keystone run.

An inspection in November, 2007 determined that Quinault's hull needed to be replaced. This inspection and a similar finding on the Illahee led to a decision that all four boats of the Steel Electric class, the oldest salt water ferries operating in America.

Klickitat was declared retired on 13-December-2007. In September, 2008, Washington State Ferries sold her to Environmental Recycling Systems, which will scrap her in Mexico.

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Nisqually (formerly Mendocino)

Nisqually Nisqually (formerly Mendocino) on Puget Sound.

Mendocino was built in 1927 for the Northwestern Pacific as a diesel-electric auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Nisqually. She was almost lost in a winter storm while sailing up the coast to Puget Sound.

Like Klickitat, Puget Sound Navigation left her double-ended. She started on the Edmonds-Kingston-Port Ludlow run in 1941. In 1962, she was rammed by a freighter in the fog. Washington State Ferries rebuilt Nisqually in 1987.

Nisqually served on the San Juan Islands run for many years.

An inspection in November, 2007 determined that Quinault's hull needed to be replaced. This inspection and a similar finding on the Illahee led to a decision that all four boats of the Steel Electric class, the oldest salt water ferries operating in America.

Nisqually was declared retired on 13-December-2007. In September, 2008, Washington State Ferries sold her to Environmental Recycling Systems, which will scrap her in Mexico.

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Quinault (formerly Redwood Empire)

Quinault Quinault (formerly Redwood Empire) on Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of Steve Pickens. Visit his Evergreen Fleet site.

Redwood Empire was built in 1927 for the Northwestern Pacific as a diesel-electric auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Quinault.

Like Klickitat, Puget Sound Navigation left her double-ended. She served mostly on the Southworth-Vashon Island-Fauntleroy (West Seattle) run. Washington State Ferries rebuilt Quinault wooden cabin in steel during the 1980's.

Quinault ran aground near Keystone Terminal on 22-Aug-2002. There was no damage.

An inspection in November, 2007 determined that Quinault's hull needed to be replaced. This inspection and a similar finding on the Illahee led to a decision that all four boats of the Steel Electric class, the oldest salt water ferries operating in America.

Quinault was declared retired on 13-December-2007. In September, 2008, Washington State Ferries sold her to Environmental Recycling Systems, which will scrap her in Mexico.

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San Leandro

San Leandro was built for the Key System in 1923. After US Maritime Commission service during World War II, she went to the Southern Pacific, where she sailed from Oakland Pier to San Francisco. She made the final trip of an old ferry on 30-Jul-1958.

San Leandro was moored out of service at the Ferry Building until she was vandalized in the 1960's. Rock groups Daisy Overkill and Blue Cheer, considered by many to be the first heavy metal band, lived aboard. Emiliano Ezheverria lived in the landward pilot house. She burned in the late 1960's in a fire set by homeless people living on the next pier. San Leandro was rebuilt and moored for several years at Pier 37, where I used to see her while riding the ferry from Sausalito. She burned again in the late 1970s and was towed to Oakland Estuary, where she was moored near the 23rd St Bridge. Emiliano Ezheverria reports that he saw her half-sunk in 1992.

See Fresno for the final fate of this boat.

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Santa Rosa (was also Enetai)

Santa Rosa Santa Rosa permanently docked at Pier 3. August 2001. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Santa Rosa was built in 1927 for the Northwestern Pacific as an auto ferry. She was later operated by the Southern Pacific/Golden Gate line. In 1940, she went to Puget Sound and was renamed Enetai.

Puget Sound Navigation reengined her, replacing her diesel-electric drive with a with direct drive diesel engine and made her single-ended. She started on the Seattle-Bremerton run in 1941. Washington State Ferries retired Enetai in 1968 because she was single ended and expensive to operate.

Enetai returned to San Francisco, where she was restored to her original appearance and her original name. Santa Rosa is now docked at Pier 3 in San Francisco, and is leased out for parties and gatherings by Hornblower Yachts.

Enetai Enetai on Puget Sound.

Santa Rosa 2013/1 An end view of Santa Rosa, permanently docked at Pier 3. January 2013. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Santa Rosa 2013/2 Santa Rosa's land-side pilothouse. January 2013. Photo by Joe Thompson.

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Sausalito

SausalitoThe North Pacific Coast ferry Sausalito.

Sausalito, a wood-hulled boat built by John W Dickie in 1894, carried passengers and narrow gauge freight cars for the North Pacific Coast Railroad. She was later operated by the North Shore and Northwestern Pacific. Northwestern Pacific removed the rails from her main deck in 1903 and used her to carry only passengers and express wagons. In later years she carried autos on her main deck.

On the evening of 30-Nov-1901, the bay was covered by a thick fog. Sausalito was crossing from Sausalito to San Francisco when she rammed fellow North Pacific Coast ferry San Rafael. The older, single-ended San Rafael was mortally wounded, but there was time to lay a plank between the boats and the passengers and crew were able to evacuate before San Rafael went down. Some small number of passengers, possibly only two or three, and Old Dick, the horse who pulled the express carts on the San Rafael, died.

This event inspired the beginning of Jack London's novel The Sea Wolf.

Veterinarian Dr J S McCue, sitting in San Rafael's restaurant, had an ear knocked off by a timber. He is recorded as saying that this would not have happened if he had been in the bar where he belonged.

Northwestern Pacific retired Sausalito in about 1930. There is some controversy about why they chose Sausalito and not Cazadero or Tamalpais, which were in some ways in worse shape. Sausalito was the oldest of the three boats.

Sausalito in Antioch Sausalito in Antioch. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

The Sportsmen Yacht Club acquired Sausalito, which had been stripped of her engine and boilers, in 1934 and moved her to Antioch. She has sat aground in the same place since 1939, on a bed of packed sand and a timber cradle. She serves as a clubhouse. From the outside, she looks her age, but on the inside, one can see that she is well taken care of.

Sportsmen Yacht Club Historian Kathie Hammer and her husband Keith gave me a tour of Sausalito in March, 2002. Kathie maintains a museum in two cabins on the main deck; she has a nice collection of photos and artifacts showing the history of Sausalito and her sisters.

The main deck is divided into small cabins which the members rent. Each cabin has running water and a loft. The paddle boxes are used for storage.

The cabin deck has a long room in the middle that was being set up for the annual Saint Patrick's day party for 175 people. There are galleys on each side. At the river end of the room is a bar from the 1939 Fair on Treasure Island. The clerestory still has its original stained glass. There is patch visible of the original green paint, where a pay phone was removed some time ago.

Looking down the length of the cabin deck, Sausalito has a perceptible sag towards her ends. This is very common with long wooden boats. Keith explained that, to correct the droop, they can jack the ends up about an inch each year without cracking anything.

There are several original benches on the inside and outside areas of the cabin deck. The pilot houses are cabins for lucky members. Keith told me that someone stole the sign off the front of the pilot house on the landward end a few years ago.

Much of the boat's decorative woodwork is still in place. The doorways at the ends of the cabin deck still have rounded corners, unusual on San Francisco ferryboats, to make room for freight cars.

I am very grateful to the Hammers and the Sportsmen Yacht Club for allowing me to tour their beautiful clubhouse. Check Kathie's monthly column on the Sportsmen Yacht Club website.

Sausalito Sausalito from the river end. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

Sausalito pilothouse Sausalito pilothouse. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

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Vallejo

Sehome postcard Ferry Vallejo.

Ferry Vallejo was launched in Portland, Oregon. She was christened Ferry Co. #2. In 1898-1899, she was transfered to San Francisco Bay and rechristened Vallejo. She operated for the Vallejo Ferry Company between her namesake city and the Naval shipyard at Mare Island.

In 1919, she moved to the Rodeo-Vallejo run. After World War II, she was sold for scrap, but resold as a houseboat. She is still moored in Sausalito.

There is a website dedicated to the preservation of the Vallejo.

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