Maritime history of California

Maritime history of California
History of California
California Poppy closeup.jpg
This article is part of a series
To 1899
Gold Rush (1848)
US Civil War (1861-1865)
Since 1900
Maritime · Railroad ·
Highways · Slavery
Los Angeles · San Franicsco ·
San Diego · San Jose ·

California Portal
v · d · e

Maritime history of California is a term used to describe significant ships and uses of the Pacific Ocean near the California coast. This Maritime history includes the historical use of water craft such as: dugouts, canoes, sailing ships, steamships, fisheries, shipbuilding, Gold Rush shipping, ports, shipwrecks, Naval ships and installations and Lighthouses. The Maritime history of California can be divided into several periods: the Native American period; European exploration period from 1542 to 1769; the Spanish colonial period, 1769 to 1821; the Mexican period, 1821 to 1847; and United States statehood period, which continues to the present day.


Native California maritime peoples

Dugout Canoes

Dugout Canoe

In the northwest coast of California near the Redwood forests several Indian tribes developed large dugout canoes they used for fishing, trade and warfare. These canoes were constructed by taking a large tree and shaping it with hand tools and fire to a boat's configuration. A redwood log 4 metres (13 ft) long and 240 centimetres (94 in) diameter weighs about 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb). This large weight meant that the logs were selected that required a minimum of movement—usually driftwood or dead fall trees that had been blown over by the wind. Sometimes logs were cut to length and rolled into water where they could be floated to a selected work area. The logs were usually cut to length by fire and stone age hand tools and the interior of the canoe was typically burned out with small fires. The basic procedure was to start a small fire on the tree where it needed shaping, then extinguish it after a short burn. This would leave one or more centimeters of charred wood where the fire was built that would be easier to remove. By successively using small fires to char the areas that needed to be worked the logs could be shaped by the crude scrapers and rock, shellfish and horn based tools available. A finished 4 metres (13 ft) long dugout canoe with a nominal 5 centimetres (2.0 in) thickness still weighed over 100 kilograms (220 lb). Most larger dugouts weighed too much to move easily and were usually just pulled up on a beach far enough to get them above high tide. Constructing these types of dugout canoes took considerable time and skill with stone age tools and fire.

Tule boats (canoes)

Tule reeds growing wild near water

Tule (Schoenoplectus acutus also called bulrushes) have a thin (~1 cm or 0.5 inch) diameter, rounded green stems that grows to 1 to 3 metres (3–10 ft) tall. They grow well in marshes, wetlands or at the edges of bodies of water. The tule stem has a pithy interior filled with spongy tissue packed with air cells—this makes it float well on water as well as a good insulator. Native Americans used tule for making and thatching huts,[1] baskets, mats,[2] boats, decoys, hats, clothing and shoes. Tule was typically cut using deer scapula 'saws' that had rough saw like edges cut into them.[3] Tule has to be handled with care when green to avoid breaking the stem and gains strength when it is partially dried.

Several tribes in and around the San Francisco Bay area and in northern California made and used tule canoes (also called balsas).[4] Bay Miwok, Coast Miwok, Ohlone (Costanoan), Pomos, Klamath, Modoc and several other California Indian tribes used the tule plant to make tule canoes.[5] Tule canoes were used in ocean lagoons from Tomales Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore south to perhaps Monterey Bay. Tule–reed boats were used in lakes, bays and slow-moving rivers in much of Northern California. They were used by the Pomos living in the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Clear Lake, Tule Lake and other areas. They were common in the San Francisco Bay and on the extensive Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta and its tributary rivers.

These tule canoes were used for transportation to and from their favorite spots for hunting or harvesting salmon, acorns, seeds, berries, shellfish or oysters and other fish or foods. Extensive beds and shoals of oysters (Ostrea lurida) and other crayfish then lay near the shores of San Francisco Bay and Tomales Bay and were a food source used for centuries. Tule canoes were also used for gathering more tule reeds and for hunting ducks or geese which were then often present in the wetlands, etc. in the millions. Collecting aquatic food plants and duck and goose eggs was also common. Ducks and geese were often hunted with arrows or nets. Tule canoes were used in fishing with Nets, spears or bone fishhooks for several native fish species present in or migrating through the rivers, ocean and bays.

Tule boats can be quickly built from dried tule, by experienced canoe builders, in less than one day.[6] Tule boats have a limited useful life before they rot and/or come apart—typically only lasting a few weeks. To make a tule boat, green tule (Schoenoplectus acutus or bulrush ) was cut and then spread out in the sun to dry for several days. Tule canoes were constructed of cut stalks of tule plants bundled together around a willow 'core' for extra strength into three to six tied together tapered cigar-shaped bundle of tules. The bundles could be pre-bent to form a raised prow and stern. The length of each bundle depends on the size of the boat that were then typically about 10 feet (3.0 m) to 15 feet (4.6 m). The bundle that formed the bottom of the canoe on which the boatman or boatmen sat, knelt or stood was much larger than the others. To make the sides of the tule canoe two to six tapered bundles were tied to the bottom bundle with grape vines or other native material with extensive lacing at the at the stern and prow to bend all the tule bundles into a tapered and raised bow and stern. Tule canoes typically accommodated one to four people.

The boatman typically sits, kneels or stands in the boat and either paddles it with a double bladed paddle or with his arms when lying prone. If the boat was not woven tightly enough, then the boatman would find himself sitting, standing or kneeling in several inches of water. The tule canoes were often used for transportation to oyster mollusk and other shellfish beds that could be harvested at low tide. The Emeryville Shellmound composed mostly of the inedible shells of shellfish, presumably mostly harvested utilizing tule boats, is an example of the over 400 shell mounds known in the San Francisco Bay area. These multiple mounds, often built up over centuries, showed a stable source of easily obtained food utilized for 100s of years.[7]

To see pictures of tule canoes use the image option of Google, Bing, etc. and type in "Tule canoe and search--several images are usually found that may be clicked on for more information. Local conservation groups often have courses in building tule canoes.[8]

Sewn Plank (Tomol) canoes

An ancient maritime culture dating back some 8,000 years, perhaps earlier, has been documented by recent dating of middens on San Clemente Island, some 60 miles offshore Southern California. Native California peoples lived in large settled villages along the Pacific coastline and on the Channel Islands of California for thousands of years before European contact.

The California Channel Islands

In some areas, such as along the Santa Barbara Channel separating the Channel Islands of California from the California coast the Chumash and Tongva people in these villages developed highly sophisticated canoes. These canoes were used in fishing and in widespread trade between different villages on and off the Channel Islands of California. Boat construction reached its highest development in California among the Chumash and Tongva people. Their sewn plank canoes, called a "tomol," impressed early explorers of the California coast for its versatility, seaworthiness and size.[9][10]

The canoes were typically made out of planks split from redwood (Sequoioideae) or pine driftwood washed up on the shore. This driftwood was usually chosen because it was available and usually knot free and easy to work with. Some of these driftwood logs were selected, cut to length, split, shaped and then their split out planks "sewn" together to form a canoe. The side planks and canoe bottom were split out of straight knot free logs utilizing whalebone and antler Wedges driven by rock mallets. The planks were then shaped, trimmed and leveled using flint and seashell tools and shark hide sandpaper. Where planks needed to be connected holes were bored in the planks using wood drills tipped with chert or bone. These drilled planks were then connected by "sewing" split and shaped knot free planks together on their ends to get the necessary length. They were typically fastened together with red milkweed (tok) fiber cords. After the planks had been shaped and sewn together for length they were carefully shaped, bent and mounted six to eight planks vertically to form the canoe's sides around a large split bottom plank that formed the bottom of the canoe. Over 20 pieces of shaped wood are used to make a typical tomol. Once the planks were bent, fitted and lashed together the heart of dry tule rush was forced into the cracks between the planks on the outside of the canoe hull to act as caulking. All seams between planks, plank ends and holes for cords or thongs were then caulked with 'yop', a mixture of hard tar and pine pitch melted and then boiled. In many respects their boat construction technique mirrored that utilized for making small wooden boats around the world. The lack of metal tools and fasteners forced them to use stone age tools and materials.

These canoes were built to carry from 3 to 10 people, one of which was usually assigned to bail, and the rest propelled the canoe by using rough oars. The typical tomol was 12 feet (3.7 m) to 24 feet (7.3 m) long with a beam of 3 feet (0.91 m) to 5 feet (1.5 m). Sea voyages of over a 130 miles (210 km) have been recorded for these craft. They fished the sea with fishing nets, harpoons, spears and bone fishhooks. One of their common net catches were sardines and larger sardines called pilchards—then common in large schools off the California coast. The Chumash had settlements on the main California coast and on the northern California Channel Islands. The Tongva (Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe) had several small settlements on the southern Channel Islands as well as villages on the main California southwest coast.

Chumash and Tongva trading expeditions between the mainland and the Channel Islands were common. Most were to obtain steatite for soapstone bowls and effigy figurines. The remains of this prehistoric seafaring is being investigated by underwater archaeologists. At least 25 individual sites have been reported between Ventura, California Beach and Point Conception.

Early European explorers

The ’’” island”’’ of California, from a map circa 1650. Restored. Ulloa's discovery's of 1539 were apparently still secret.

In 1539, Francisco de Ulloa under commission from the Viceroyalty of New Spain and New Spain (Mexico) conqueror, Hernán Cortés, explored the Gulf of California to the Colorado River--establishing Baja California as a peninsula. Ulloa then went 800 miles (1,300 km) south down the Baja Peninsula in the Gulf of California and rounding the tip of the peninsula turned north and explored the west coast of the Baja California peninsula--perhaps to the 28th Parallel (near the Isla Natividad).[11] Ulloa's sailing ships battered by adverse winds and his men wracked by scurvy, returned to New Spain (Mexico) without exploring further.

The Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, California

The first European expedition to explore the upper California coast was led by the Portuguese/Spanish explorer and conquistador João Rodrigues Cabrilho (~1499-1543). Cabrillo shipped for Havana as a young man and joined forces with Hernán Cortés in New Spain (Mexico) in about 1820 as a conquistador crossbow man. In the conquest of the Aztec capital of Tenochitlan (Mexico City) in 1521 Cortez directed Cabrillo to build thirteen 40 feet (12 m) boats to fight on the lake then in the center of Tenochitlan. Rapidly advancing under Cortez's direction he participated in the conquest of El Salvador and Guatemala and was rewarded by being granted an extensive Encomienda (a feudal grant of land including the occupants on it) controlling vast land and Native American resources in Guatemala. His success in guiding the Native Americans on his Encomienda in mining gold in Guatemala, made him one of the richest of the conquistadors in Mexico and Guatemala.[12] Sponsored by Pedro de Alvarado, the Guatemala governor, Cabrillo's directed the building of several small sailing ships in Guatemala. After Alvarado's death in 1541 the new Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza took over control of the shipyards and directed Cabrillo to build three ships and lead an expedition further up the Pacific Coast in search of more rich Native American civilizations like the Aztec and Incas. They were also to see if there was a shorter way to China—the mythical Strait of Anián (or Northwest Passage) connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean.

To build the ships the anchors, sails, ship building tools and metal fittings were imported from Spain and then ported by mule and Native American porters across Mexico and then south to Guatemala. Cabrillo, a former shipbuilder, with his Spanish assistants and Native American workers had the necessary lumber sawed out and assembled to make the first sailing ships built on the America's Pacific coast—in Guatemala. The ships finished lumber and timbers was sawed out of trees with "new" steel saws manned by Native American laborers under the direction of a few Spanish shipbuilders. The ships built for exploring the Pacific were small open caravels and small bergantina (small open sailboat) built and manned by a mixture of Native Americans and Spanish sailors and conquistadors.

The last sailing ships built under Cabillo's direction were the California exploration fleet:caravels, San Salvador (about 100 feet (30 m) long) and the smaller Victoria, and a bergantina (small sail boat or launch), San Miguel. Cabrillo captained the San Salvador and Bartolomé Ferrelo the Victoria. These vessels were the first European sailing ships to visit the future state of California.[13]

Point Reyes California

After the California exploration ships were built, Cabrillo and his crews of about 200 men with supplies for about two years carefully made their way north from Navidad, Mexico up the Pacific coast starting on 17 June 1542. The combination of the south flowing California Current and often opposing winds made progress north up the coast agonizingly slow. The small, open boats with only partially trained crews caused the crews to suffer miserably in the storms they encountered on their way. After landing several times on the Baja California coast for water, wood and whatever supplies they could scrounge they finally, after traveling one hundred and three days, entered San Diego Bay on 28 September 1542. They continued north up the California coast encountering many Indian villages using Native American "tomols" (ocean going stitched canoes). The continued north up the coast possibly as far as Pt. Reyes California.[14]

On 23 November 1542, the little fleet limped back down the coast to "San Salvador" (identified as today's Santa Catalina Island, California or Santa Rosa Island) to overwinter and make repairs. There, around Christmas Eve 1542, Cabrillo stepped out of his boat and splintered his shin when he stumbled on a jagged rock. The injury developed gangrene and he died on 3 January 1543 and was buried in an unknown location. His second-in-command, Bartolomé Ferrelo, brought the remainder of the party back to Barra de Navidad, Mexico where they arrived 14 April 1543. They had found no wealth, no advanced Indian civilization, no agriculture and no Northwest passage. As a result California was of little further interest to the Spanish who would basically ignore it for over 220 years.

Spanish Galleon
Trade winds used by the Manila Galleon to get to and from Guam and the Philippines--the North Pacific Gyre

In 1565 the Spanish developed a Manila Galleon trade route (also called "nao de la China") where they took silver minted in the Potosi area of Peru or in Mexico and traded it for silk, porcelain, spices and other goods from China and other Asian areas including the Spice Islands. There was a great demand for silver in China. They also traded for gold objects which could be gotten in China in this time period at a silver:gold exchange rate of about 5:1 whereas the rate in Europe was about 16:1. The Spanish centered their trade in the Philippines at first around Cebu, which they had recently conquered, and later in Manila after they conquered it. The trade between the Philippines and Mexico involved using an annual round trip passage of one or more Manila galleon(s). These galleons left Acapulco Mexico and sailed to the Philippines in about 90 days following what's called now the north equatorial current and trade winds.

The higher-latitude Westerlies trade winds and current from east to west at about 30-40 degrees latitude, was not known as a way across the Pacific ocean until Andres de Urdaneta's voyage in the 40 ton San Lucas in 1565.[15] Returning to Mexico from the Philippines the Manila Galleons went north to about 40 degrees Latitude and then turning East they could use the Westerlies trade winds and currents to go east. These galleons, after crossing most of the Pacific Ocean, would arrive off the California coast from four to seven months later somewhere near Cape Mendocino (about 300 miles (480 km) north of San Francisco) at about 40 degrees N. latitude. They then could turn right and sail south down the California coast utilizing the available winds and the south flowing (about ~1 mi/hr (1.6 km/h)) California Current. The maps and charts were poor and the California coast was often shrouded in fog, so most journeys were well off shore to avoid the Farallon and California Channel Islands. After sailing about 1,500 miles (2,400 km) south and passing the Baja Peninsula tip and crossing the Gulf of California they followed the coast to Acapulco Mexico. Acapulco was chosen as a home port because of its excellent harbor facilities and its easy access to the city of Vera Cruz Mexico on the Caribbean.

These galleons were some the largest the Spanish built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Because of the limited number of ships and the highly profitable cargo they increased ship size up to 1,700 to 2,000 tons and from seven hundred to over one thousand people would take passage back to Acapulco on these vessels. The Manila Galleon trade (See: Spanish treasure fleet) was one of the most persistent, perilous, and profitable commercial enterprises in European colonial history. This highly profitable trade (profits could reach 200-300%) with an almost annual trip by one to two ships down the California coast was continued for over 200 years. The number of ships was limited by the Spanish Crown which got 20% of all profits. Because of the high profit and royal taxes smuggling was rampant on these ships. Because of the harsh trip and high profits most officers and crews only made one trip before finding something else to do. The ships were mostly built in the Philippines using Filipino laborers to saw out the timber, weave the sails, etc. with Chinese craftsman and blacksmiths doing the ship assembly under the direction of Spanish shipbuilders.[16]

Sir Francis Drake, circa 1581

The English explorer and privateer Francis Drake sailed along the coast of California in 1579 after capturing two Spanish treasure ships in the Pacific. It is believed that he landed somewhere on the California coast. There his only surviving ship, the Golden Hind, set up friendly relations with the local Indians and underwent extensive repairs and cleaning of his hull. Needed supplies of food, water and wood were accumulated by trade and foraging for a trip across the Pacific. Leaving California he followed Ferdinand Magellan on the second recorded circumnavigation of the world and the first English circumnavigation of the world, being gone from 1577 to 1580. He returned with several tons of silver and gold. Its believed Drake put ashore somewhere north of San Francisco. The exact location of Drake's landing is still undetermined, but a prominent bay on the California coast, Drakes Bay, bears his name. He claimed the land for England, calling it Nova Albion. The term "Nova Albion" was often used on many European maps to designate territory north of the Spanish Pacific coast settlements. Spanish maps, explorations etc., of this and later eras were generally not published, being regarded as state secrets by the Spanish monarchy. As was typical in this era, there were conflicting claims to the same territory, and the Indians who lived there were never consulted.

After Thomas Cavendish raided the Manila Galleon Santa Ana off the tip of Baja California in 1587 an attempt was made to explore the coast for a possible town site in California for replenishing and protecting the Manila galleons. These Manila Galleon explorations met with disaster when the Manila galleon San Agustin got too close to the Point Reyes, California coast in a storm in 1595 and was ship wrecked. Subsequently, the Spanish crown decided that no further exploration or colonization attempts in California would be made with Manila Galleons. A years worth of profit from the Philippines could not be risked. One of the greatest bays on the west coast—San Francisco Bay—escaped discovery for centuries till it was finally discovered by land exploration on 4 November 1769.

In 1602, 60 years after Cabrillo, the Spaniard Sebastián Vizcaíno, who had been on the Manila Galleon Santa Ana when it was captured by Thomas Cavendish off Cape San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula in 1587, explored California's coastline from San Diego, California as far north as Monterey Bay. He was looking for a possible town site for replenishing and protecting the annual trip of the Manila Galleon. Vizcaíno named San Diego Bay and held the first Christian church service recorded in California on the shores of San Diego Bay. He also put ashore in Monterey, California and made glowing reports of the Monterey Bay area as a possible anchorage for ships with land suitable for growing crops—the California coastal Indians had no agriculture. He also provided rudimentary charts of the coastal waters, which were used by the Spanish for nearly 200 years.

Spanish California Maritime Activities

A potential colonial power interested in Alta California was Russia, already established in the Pacific Ocean in Alaska. Their Maritime Fur Trade originally focused in Alaska started making expeditions to the California for harvesting sea otters and fur seals. These furs could be traded in China for large profits. After the conclusion of the Seven Year War between Britain and France and their allies (in U. S. called the French and Indian War) (1754–1763) France was driven out of North America, Spain, Russia and Britain were the only colonial powers left in North America.

To prevent Russia or Britain from establishing settlements in California in 1769, the Spanish Visitor General, José de Gálvez, under directions of the Spanish Crown, proceeded to plan a five part expedition to settle Alta California. Three ships with supplies and men were to go by sea and two expedition by land to start settling Alta California. Gaspar de Portola volunteered to command the expedition. The Catholic Church was represented by Franciscan friar Junipero Serra and his fellow friars. All five detachments of soldiers, friars and colonists were to meet at the site of San Diego Bay. The first sailing ship, the San Carlos, sailed from La Paz on January 10, 1769, and the ship San Antonio sailed on February 15. The first land party, led by Fernando Rivera y Moncada, left from the Franciscan Mission San Fernando Velicata on March 24, 1769. The third vessel, the sailing ship San José, left New Spain later that spring but was lost at sea with no survivors. With Rivera was Father Juan Crespi,[17] famed diarist of the entire expedition. The expedition led by Portolà, which included Father Junípero Serra, the President of the Missions, along with a combination of missionaries, settlers, and leather-jacket soldiers, including José Raimundo Carrillo, left Velicata on May 15, 1769 accompanied by about 46 mules, 200 cows and 140 horses—all that could be spared by the poor Baja Missions. Fernando de Rivera was appointed to command the lead party that would scout out a land route and blaze a trail to San Diego.[18] Food was short, and the Indians accompanying them were expected to forage for most of what they needed. Many Indian neophytes died along the way—even more deserted. On the 15th of May 1769, the day after Rivera and Crespi reached San Diego, California Portola and Serra set out from Velicata. The two groups traveling from Lower California on foot had to cross about 300 miles (480 km) of the very dry and rugged Baja Peninsula. The overland part of the expedition took about 40–51 days to get to San Diego. All five detachments were to meet at San Diego Bay.

The contingent coming by sea, encountered the south flowing California Current and strong head winds and were still straggling in three months after they set sail. After their arduous journeys, most of the men aboard the ships were ill, chiefly from scurvy, and many had died. Out of a total of about 219 men who had left Baja California, little more than 100 now survived. The Spanish settlements of Alta California were the last expansion of Spain's vastly over-extended empire in North America, and they tried to do it with minimal cost and support.

A few leather jacket soldiers and Franciscan friars financed by the Catholic Church and Spanish Crown would form the backbone of the proposed settlement of Alta California. The settlements eventually included: twenty one surviving Missions--typically manned by two to three friars and five to ten soldiers; four military Presidios were built—manned by 10 to 100 soldiers and four small settlements (Pueblos) were set up to grow food for the Presidios.

July 14, 1769, an expedition was dispatched to find the port of Monterey, California. Not recognizing the Monterey Bay from the description written by Sebastián Vizcaíno almost 200 years prior, the expedition traveled beyond it to what was called San Francisco, California area. The exploration party, led by Don Gaspar de Portolà arrived on November 2, 1769, at San Francisco Bay.,[19] One of the greatest ports on the west coast of America had finally been discovered—by land. The expedition finally returned to San Diego on Jan. 24, 1770 weak with hunger and suffering from scurvy.

Without any agricultural crops or experience eating the food the Indians subsisted on (ground acorns), the shortage of food at San Diego became extremely critical during the first few months of 1770. They subsisted on some of their cattle (Texas Longhorns,[20] wild geese, fish, and other food exchanged with the Indians for clothing, but the ravages of scurvy continued for there was restricted amounts of food and no understanding of the cause or cure of scurvy then. A small quantity of corn they had planted grew well—only to be eaten by birds. Portolá sent Captain Rivera and a small detachment of about 40 men to the Baja California missions in February to obtain more cattle and a pack-train of supplies. This temporarily eased the drain on San Diego's scant provisions, but within weeks, acute hunger and increased sickness again threatened to force abandonment of the port. Portolá resolved that if no relief ship arrived by March 19, 1770 they would leave the next morning "because there were not enough provisions to wait longer and the men had not come to perish from hunger." At three o'clock in the afternoon on March 19, 1770, as if by a miracle, the sails of the sailing ship San Antonio loaded with relief supplies were discernible on the horizon. The settlement of Alta California would continue.

Monterey Bay

Juan Bautista de Anza led a contingent of soldiers, settlers and friars to the San Francisco Bay area in 1776. There the Spanish built the Mission San Francisco de Asís, (or Mission Dolores), the Presidio of San Francisco and Yerba Buena, California (San Francisco). They came with about 200 leather jacketed soldiers, and settlers with their families and two Franciscan Friars. They brought with them about 600 horses and mules, 300 Texas Longhorn bulls and cows. These soldiers, Frairs, settlers and livestock came over the Anza Trail from Sonora Mexico four years before it was closed for over 40 years by the Quechan people (Yumas).

In 1780 the Spanish established two combination missions and pueblos at the Yuma Crossing of the Colorado River: Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer and Mission Puerto de Purísima Concepción. July 1781 the Yuma (Quechan) Indians, in a dispute with the Spanish destroyed both missions and pueblos—killing 103 soldiers, colonists and Franciscan Friars and capturing about 80—mostly women and children. Despite four expeditions to reassert Spanish control the Yuma Crossing remained under the Quechans control for the next 40 years—the easiest land route to California was closed. This restriction caused most settler traffic and supplies to Alta California to come on a 30-60 day sailing ship journey form New Spain's towns on the Pacific Ocean. Because there were only a few settlers and they had essentially nothing to export or trade so there were only a few ships that came to Alta California. Combined with the Spanish restriction that prohibited non-Spanish shipping the average number of ships going to Alta California from 1770 to 1821 was 2.5 ship/year with 13 years showing no recorded ships.[21]

On November 20, 1818 Hippolyte de Bouchard raided the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California. Bouchard, a French revolutionary who later became a citizen of Argentina, is sometimes referred to as California’s only pirate, although some Argentines prefer to use the term corsair.

Since much of his crew died from scurvy, Bouchard went in search of new crew members in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), and then sailed to the coast near Mission Santa Bárbara and threatened the nearby town. Bouchard and his crew left without attacking after some soldiers from El Presidio de Santa Bárbara confronted them, and arranged a prisoner exchange.

On December 14, 1818 Bouchard attacked Mission San Juan Capistrano and he and his crew damaged several buildings, including the Governor's house, the King's stores, and the barracks.

Californio Maritime Activities 1821-1846

Even before Mexico gained control of Alta California the onerous Spanish rules against trading with foreigners began to break down as the declining Spanish fleet couldn’t enforce their no trading policies. The Californios, with essentially no industries or manufacturing capabilities, were eager to trade for new commodities, glass, hinges, nails, finished goods, luxury goods and other merchandise. The Mexican government abolished the no trade with foreign ships policy and soon regular trading trips were being made. The main products of these California Ranchos were cow hides (called California greenbacks), tallow (rendered fat for making candles and soap) and longhorn cattle horns[22] that were traded for other finished goods and merchandise. This hide-and-tallow trade was mainly carried on by Boston, Massachusetts based ships that traveled for about 200 days in sailing ships about 17,000 miles (27,000 km) to 18,000 miles (29,000 km) around Cape Horn to bring finished goods and merchandise to trade with the Californio Ranchos for their hides, tallow and horns. The cattle and horses that provided the hides, tallow and horns essentially grew wild. The Californios’ hides, tallow and horns provided the necessary trade articles for a mutually beneficial trade. The first United States, English and Russian trading ships began showing up in California before 1816. The classic book “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. written about 1832 provides a good first hand account of this trade.[23]

From 1825 to 1848 the average number of ships traveling to California increased to about 25 ships per year—a large increase from the average of 2.5 ships per year from 1769 to 1824.[24] The port of entry for trading purposes was Monterey, California where custom duties (tariffs) of about 100% were applied. These high duties gave rise to much bribery and smuggling, as avoiding the tariffs made more money for the ship owners and made the goods less costly to the customers. Essentially all the cost of the California government (what little there was) was paid for by these Tariffs (custom duties). In this they were much like the United States in 1850, where about 89% of the revenue of its federal government came from import tariffs (also called Customs or Ad-valorem taxes), although at an average rate of about 20%.[25]

By 1845, the province of Alta California had a non-native population of about 1,500 Californio adult men along with about 6,500 women and children, who lived mostly in the southern half of the state around Los Angeles.[26] Most immigrants (nearly all of whom were adult males) lived in the northern half of California.

Californio Maritime Activities 1821-1846

Even before Mexico gained control of Alta California the onerous Spanish rules against trading with foreigners began to break down as the declining Spanish fleet couldn’t enforce their no trading policies. The Californios, with essentially no industries or manufacturing capabilities, were eager to trade for new commodities, glass, hinges, nails, finished goods, luxury goods and other merchandise. The Mexican government abolished the no trade with foreign ships policy and soon regular trading trips were being made. The main products of these California Ranchos were cow hides (called California greenbacks), tallow (rendered fat for making candles and soap) and longhorn cattle horns[27] that were traded for other finished goods and merchandise. This hide-and-tallow trade was mainly carried on by Boston, Massachusetts based ships that traveled for about 200 days in sailing ships about 17,000 miles (27,000 km) to 18,000 miles (29,000 km) around Cape Horn to bring finished goods and merchandise to trade with the Californio Ranchos for their hides, tallow and horns. The cattle and horses that provided the hides, tallow and horns essentially grew wild. The Californios’ hides, tallow and horns provided the necessary trade articles for a mutually beneficial trade. The first United States, English and Russian trading ships began showing up in California before 1816. The classic book “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. written about 1832 provides a good first hand account of this trade.[23]

From 1825 to 1848 the average number of ships traveling to California increased to about 25 ships per year—a large increase from the average of 2.5 ships per year from 1769 to 1824.[24] The port of entry for trading purposes was Monterey, California where custom duties (tariffs) of about 100% were applied. These high duties gave rise to much bribery and smuggling, as avoiding the tariffs made more money for the ship owners and made the goods less costly to the customers. Essentially all the cost of the California government (what little there was) was paid for by these Tariffs (custom duties). In this they were much like the United States in 1850, where about 89% of the revenue of its federal government came from import tariffs (also called Customs or Ad-valorem taxes), although at an average rate of about 20%.[25]

By 1845, the province of Alta California had a non-native population of about 1,500 Californio adult men along with about 6,500 women and children, who lived mostly in the southern half of the state around Los Angeles.[28] Most immigrants (nearly all of whom were adult males) lived in the northern half of California.

U.S. California Naval activity

Before the American Revolution (1775-1783) the colonies that would become the United States had a already developed a strong seafaring tradition in the future New England and Mid-Atlantic states. The colonies with good access to British shipbuilding experience and technology and with good access to the Atlantic Ocean and extensive forests had already developed an advanced shipbuilding industry even before they gained independence. They were already building many of the ships used in the extensive British colonial trade as well as whaling and fishing vessels. Whaling recovered soon after the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783 and the United States whaling industry began to prosper. The whalers used bases primarily at Nantucket island and New Bedford, Massachusetts. About ten thousand United State's seamen manned whaling ships on whaling voyages that could last over two years. The United States grew to become the pre-eminent whaling nation in the world by the 1830s. From 1835 to 1860 the American whaling fleet averaged about 620 vessels annually with a shipping tonnage aggregating 190,500 tons. In thhis time period most of the whalers were whaling in the Pacific Ocean. From 1835 to 1860 the annual United States whale oil usage averaged 118,000 barrels of sperm oil, 216,000 barrels of other whale oil and 2,323,000 pounds of whalebone (baleen)—with a total average value of over $8,000,000 a year of 1830 dollars.[29] The whale oil was used primarily in whale oil lamps for illumination at night and for some lubrication purposes. The baleen was used for corsets, brushes, whips, and other uses that required a strong flexible material—plastic hadn't been invented yet. Kerosene, when it was introduced in the early 1850s, was much cheaper and easily made by fractional distillation of petroleum. Kerosene started to rapidly replace whale oil for lighting in the 1850s—saving many more whales than any conservation movement. The Pacific Ocean whaling ships started getting fresh supplies, water and wood from California and Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Many whaling vessels preferred stopping in the San Francisco Bay Area before stopping to pay the high custom duties (also called tariffs and Ad Valorem taxes) at Monterey, California wanted by the Californio government—avoiding taxes has a long history. By 1846 several hundred whaling ships per year were using Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands) as a temporary base.

Shortly after the United States gained independence in 1783 trade was instituted from East Coast ports with the West Coast to gather furs in the Maritime Fur Trade to trade with China for porcelain, silk, spices etc.. British Royal Navy commander George Vancouver sailed up the west coast past the mouth of the Columbia River and on April 1792 and observed a change in the water's color, which implied there may be a major river emptying into the Pacific.[30] Later that month, Vancouver encountered the American captain Robert Gray at Grays Harbor--later named that in his honor. Gray also reported that he had seen the possible entrance to the Columbia a few years earlier and had spent nine days trying but failing to enter the river over its extensive sand bars and turbulent waves; but bad weather forced him to give up.[31] Gray returned to the river mouth a second time in May 1792. This time he ordered a small sailboat launched to attempt to find a safe passage across the sand bars and turbulent waves by sounding (measuring the depth with a weight attached to a line of known length) the water depth to find a channel deep enough for his ship. Finally in the evening of May 11, 1792, Gray's men found a safe channel and he and his crew sailed their ship Columbia into the estuary of what he named the Columbia River after his ship.[32] Once across the sand bars and turbulent water at the entrance to the river (later called the Columbia Bar) they sailed up the Columbia River several miles while exploring the river. Gray's discovery was one of the claims the United States had for possession of the Oregon Territory. The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) was the first overland expedition to the Pacific Coast and reinforced the United States claim for possession.

Beginning about 1790 United States ships often sailed along the West Coast to gather furs for trading with China. They traded steel knives, hatchets, blankets, kettles, whiskey, guns, powder, lead and other trade goods for furs collected by the natives. An attempt was made by the Spanish in Spanish California to severely restrict trade from San Diego, California to San Francisco, California. The land above San Francisco, California had no Spanish presence. The Russian-American Company was created in 1799 as a joint venture between Russian fur traders and United States ship merchants who agreed to purchase fur seal and sea otter furs obtained by the Russians. The Russian Czar was to get 20% of all profits. American ships brought food and other supplies to the Russian settlements, assisted in fur hunts, and took furs away. The company constructed settlements in what is today Alaska, Hawaii, and California.

Aleut hunter with harpoon in Baidarka, Hudson Bay, circa 1908-1914

The Russian traders after visiting California in 1806 built Fort Ross, California in 1812 on the California coast in Sonoma County, California--just north of San Francisco. This was the southernmost outpost of the Russian-American Company. To keep unwanted Spanish intrusion away the Russians built a palisaded fort equipped with several cannons. Their objective in setting up Ft. Ross was to harvest fur seals and sea otters and grow grain and vegetables for the use of other Russian trading centers in Russian Alaska. The fur company at Fort Ross typically had a few score Russians with up to 75 Aleut Eskimos who harvested (usually under some duress) the fur seals and sea otters from their kayaks on or near the Farallon Islands, the Channel Islands of California and in the ports and bays around San Francisco Bay. The Aleuts of Russian Alaska probably had the largest effect on the Channel islands and its people. These otter-hunters from the Aleutian Islands set up camps on the surrounding Channel Islands and traded with the native peoples in exchange for permission to hunt otters and seals around the island.

American fur trader John Jacob Astor built Fort Astoria on the Columbia River in 1811. Under pressure brought by the War of 1812 Astor sold the fort to what would become the The British Hudson's Bay Company. In 1830 Hudson Bay Co. built a new Fort Vancouver slightly up the Columbia River in the future Washington state. This fort was the main supply depot for Hudson Bay forts in all the Pacific Northwest. Within a few years they were growing quantities of wheat, constructed saw and flour mills, and yearly shipped lumber to the Hawaiian Islands and flour to Sitka, Alaska. They were resupplied every year by two to three ships that brought trading supplies around Cape Horn from England.

Sea otters and fur seals were severely depleted on the California coast and islands by the 1820s. Hudson's Bay Company entered the coast trade in the 1820s with the intention of driving the Americans away. This was accomplished by about 1840 just as the fur trade industry started dying due to lack of supply and a style change in felt hats—felt was made from fur. In its late period the maritime fur trade was largely conducted by the British Hudson's Bay Company and the Russian-American Company. The depleted supply of sea otters and the easy trade with the British in Fort Vancouver for food stuffs led the Russians to abandon Fort Ross, California in 1841 and sell the cannon and other supplies to John Augustus Sutter. The Hudson Bay Company departed from their trading post they had set up in San Francisco in 1845 because of the declining fur trade and the death of their agent there.

The United States Exploring Expedition (1838–1842) was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean ("the Southern Seas") conducted by the United States Navy to learn more about the Pacific Ocean and its ports. The expedition with five ships was authorized by Congress in 1836. It is sometimes called the "Ex. Ex." for short, or "the Wilkes Expedition" in honor of its next appointed commanding officer, U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes (1798–1877). The expedition was of major importance to the growth of oceanography and cartography of the Pacific. Two of these ships were lost from accidents—one on the Columbia River in 1841. From the area of modern-day Portland, Oregon, an overland party headed by George F. Emmons was directed to proceed via an inland route to San Francisco Bay. This Emmons party traveled south along the Siskiyou Trail, including the Sacramento River, making the first official recorded visit by Americans to and scientific note of Mount Shasta, in northern California. The Emmons party rejoined the ships, which had sailed south, in San Francisco Bay. After their return Wilkes published the major scientific works Western America, including California and Oregon (1849) and Theory of the Winds (1856).[33]

The Pacific Squadron, established 1821, was part of the United States Navy squadron stationed in the Pacific Ocean in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially with no United States ports in the Pacific, they operated out of storeships which provided naval supplies and purchased fresh supplies of food, wood and water from local ports of call in California, Hawaiian Islands and ports and harbors on the Pacific Coast. The Pacific Squadron was instrumental in the capture of Alta California in the Mexican–American War of 1846 to 1848. After war was declared on 24 April 1846. The American navy with its force of 350-400 U.S. Marines and bluejacket U.S. Navy sailors on board several sailing ships near California were essentially the only significant United States military force on the Pacific coast in the early months of the Mexican–American War. Marines were stationed aboard each warship to assist in close in ship to ship combat for either boarding or repelling boarders and could be detached for use on land. In addition there were some sailors on each ship that could be detached from each vessel for shore duty and still leave the ship functional though short handed.

USS Cyane Taking San Diego 1846

Hostilities between U.S. and Mexican troops commenced in April 1846 with Mexican troops killing and capturing a number of U.S. Army troops in the future state of Texas. The Battle of Palo Alto, the first major battle of the Mexican-American War, was fought on May 8, 1846, a few miles from the modern-day city of Brownsville, Texas. A force of some 3,400 Mexican troops (a portion of the Army of The North) led by Mexican General Mariano Arista engaged a force of 2,400 United States troops under General Zachary Taylor. Taylor's forces drove the Mexicans from the field. The United States Congress responded to these hostilities by issuing a Declaration of War against Mexico on May 13, 1846—the Mexican-American War had began.

Speculating that war with Mexico over Texas and other land was very possible, the U.S. Navy had sent several additional naval vessels to the Pacific in 1845 to protect U.S. interests there. It took about 200 days, on average, for sailing ships to travel the greater than 12,000 miles (19,000 km) trip from the East coast around Cape Horn to California. Initially as the war with Mexico started there were five vessels in the U.S. Navy's Pacific Squadron near California. In 1846 and 1847 this was increased to 13 Navy vessels—over half the U.S. Navy's available ships.

The former fleet surgeon William M. Wood and John Parrot, the American Consul of Mazatlan, arrived in Guadalajara Mexico on 10 May 1846. There they heard word of the on-going hostilities between the U.S. and Mexico forces and sent a message by special courier back to Commodore Sloat then visiting Mazatlan. On 17 May 1846 this courier's messages informed Commodore Sloat that hostilities between the U.S. and Mexico had commenced.[34] Commodore (Rear Admiral) John D. Sloat, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Squadron and his fleet of four vessels were then at anchor in the harbor of Mazatlan Mexico.[35] On hearing the news Commodore Sloat dispatched his flagship, the Frigate USS Savannah, and the Sloop USS Levant to Monterey harbor where they arrived on 2 July 1846. They joined the Sloop USS Cyane which was already there.[36] There were U.S. fears that the British might try to annex California to satisfy British creditors.[37] The British Pacific Station's ships off California were stronger in ships, guns and men.[35]

Hearing rumors of possible Mexican military action against the newly arrived settlers in California (this had already happened in 1840),[38] some settlers decided to neutralize the small Californio garrison at Sonoma, California. On June 15, 1846, some thirty settlers, mostly former American citizens, staged a revolt and seized the small Californio garrison in Sonoma without firing a shot. Initially there was little resistance from anyone in California as they replaced the dysfunctional and ineffective Mexican government—which already had 40 Presidents in the first 24 years of its existence. Most settlers and Californios were neutral or actively supported the revolt. John A. Sutter and his men and supplies at Sutter’s Fort joined the revolt. They raised the "Bear Flag" of the California Republic over Sonoma. The republic was in existence scarcely more than a week before Frémont returned and took over on June 23 from William B. Ide the leader of the Bear Flag Revolt. The California state flag of today is based on this original Bear Flag and still contains the words "California Republic".

In 1846 the U.S. Navy was under orders to take over all California ports in the event of war. There were about 400–500 U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy bluejacket sailors available for possible land action on the Pacific Squadron’s ships. Hearing word of the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, California and the arrival of the large British 2,600 ton, 600 man, man-of-war HMS Collingwood (1841), flagship under Sir George S. Seymour, outside Monterey Harbor, Commodore Sloat was finally stirred to action. On 7 July 1846—seven weeks after war had been declared, Commodore John D. Sloat instructed the Captains of the ships:USS Savannah and Sloops: USS Cyane and USS Levant of the Pacific Squadron in Monterey Bay to occupy Monterey, California—the Alta California capital. Fifty American marines and about 100 bluejacket sailors landed and captured the city without incident—the few Californio troops formerly there having already evacuated the city. They raised the flag of the United States without firing a shot. The only shots fired were a 21 gun salute to the new U.S. Flag fired by each of the U.S. Navy ships in the harbor.[39] The British ships observed but took no action—getting a message to and from Britain requesting new orders to interfere would have taken from one to two years.

The abandoned Presidio and Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) at San Francisco, (then called Yerba Buena), was occupied without firing a shot on 9 July 1846 by U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy sailors from the Sloop USS Portsmouth (1843). Militia Captain Thomas Fallon led a small force of about 22 men from Santa Cruz, California and captured the small town of Pueblo de San Jose without bloodshed on 11 July 1846. Fallon received an American flag from Commodore John D. Sloat, and raised it over the pueblo on July 14. On 15 July 1846, Commodore (Rear Admiral) John D. Sloat transferred his command of the Pacific Squadron to Commodore Robert F. Stockton when Stockton's ship, the Frigate USS Congress (1841), arrived from the Hawaii. Stockton, a much more aggressive leader, asked Fremont to form a joint force of Fremont’s soldiers, scouts, guides etc. and a volunteer militia—many former Bear Flag Revolters. This unit called the California Battalion was mustered into U.S. service and were paid regular army wages. On July 19, Frémont's newly formed "California Battalion" swelled to about 160 men. These men included Fremont's 30 topographical men and their 30 scouts and hunters, U.S. Marine Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie, a U.S. Navy officer to handle their two cannons, a company of Indians trained by Sutter and many other permanent California settlers from several different countries as well as American settlers. The California Battalion members were used mainly to garrison and keep order in the rapidly surrendering California towns. The Navy went down the coast from San Francisco, occupying ports without resistance as they went. The small pueblo (town) of San Diego surrendered 29 July 1846 without a shot being fired. The small pueblo (town) of Santa Barbara surrendered without a shot being fired in August 1846. On 13 August 1846 a joint force of U.S. Marines, bluejacket sailors and parts of Fremont’s California Battalion carried by the USS Cyane (1837) entered Los Angeles, California with flags flying and band playing. Captain Archibald H. Gillespie, (Fremont's second in command), with a inadequate force of 40 to 50 men were left to occupy and keep order in the largest town (about 3,500) in Alta California—Los Angeles.

On July 11 the British Royal Navy sloop HMS Juno enters San Francisco Bay causing Montgomery to man his defenses. The large British ship, 2,600 ton, man-of-war HMS Collingwood, flagship under Sir George S. Seymour, also shows up about this time outside Monterey Harbor. Both British ships observe, but did not enter the conflict.[40]

Shortly after July 9 when it became clear the American Navy was taking action, the short-lived Bear Flag Republic was converted into a United States military conflict for possession of California and the Bear Flag (the basis for today's California Flag) was replaced by the U.S. Flag. Fremont expeditionary forces joined forces with a volunteer force of California residents to form a small volunteer militia. The frigate USS Congress was the flagship of Commodore Robert F. Stockton when he took over as the senior United States military commander in California in late July 1846. Stockton asked Fremont to muster the troops and volunteers under his command into the California Battalion to help garrison the towns rapidly being captured from the Californios. Most towns surrendered without a shot being fired. Fremont's California Battalion members were sworn in and the volunteers paid the regular United States Army salary of $25.00 a month for privates with higher pay for officers. The California Battalion varied in size with time from about 160 initially to over 450 by January 1847. Pacific Squadron war ships and storeships served as floating store houses keeping Fremont's volunteer force in the California Battalion supplied with black powder, lead shot and supplies as well as transporting them to different California ports. The USS Cyane transported Fremont and about 160 of his men to the small port of San Diego which was captured on 29 July 1846 without a shot being fired. A minor Californio revolt broke out in Los Angeles and the United States force there of 40–50 men evacuated the city for a time. Later, U.S.forces fought minor scrimmages in the Battle of San Pasqual, the Battle of Dominguez Rancho, and the Battle of Rio San Gabriel. After the Los Angeles revolt started the California Battalion was expanded to a force of about 400 men. In early January 1847 a 600 man joint force of U.S. Marine, U.S. Navy bluejacket sailors, General Stephen W. Kearny's 80 U.S. Army dragoons (cavalrymen) and about two companies of Fremont's California Battalion re-occupied Los Angeles after some minor skirmishes—after four months the same U.S. Flag again flew over Los Angeles. The minor armed resistance in California ceased when the Californios signed the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847. The Californios who had wrested control of California from Mexico in 1845 now had a new government.[41]

After the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed, the Pacific Squadron then went on to capture all Baja California cities and harbors and sink or capture all the Mexican Pacific Navy they could find. Baja California was returned to Mexico in subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo negotiations. More reinforcements of about 320 soldiers (and a few women) of the Mormon Battalion arrived at San Diego, California on 28 January 1847—after hostilities had ceased. They had been recruited from the Mormon camps on the Missouri River—about 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away. These troops were recruited with the understanding they would be discharged in California with their weapons. Most were discharged before July 1847. More reinforcements in the form of Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson's 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers of about 648 men showed up in March–April 1847—again after hostilities had ceased. Three private merchant ships, Thomas H Perkins, Loo Choo, and Susan Drew, were chartered, and the sloop USS Preble was assigned convoy detail. On 26 September the four ships left New York for California. Fifty men who had been left behind for various reasons sailed on 13 November 1846 on the small storeship USS Brutus. The Susan Drew and Loo Choo reached Valparaiso, Chile by 20 January 1847 and after getting fresh supplies, water and wood were on their way again by 23 January. The Perkins did not stop until San Francisco, reaching port on 6 March 1847. The Susan Drew arrived on 20 March 1847 and the Loo Choo arrived on 26 March 1847, 183 days after leaving New York. The Brutus finally arrived on 17 April 1847. After desertions and deaths in transit, four ships brought Stevenson's 648 men to California. Initially they took over all of the Pacific Squadron's on-shore military and garrison duties and the Mormon Battalion and California Battalion's garrison duties. The New York Volunteer companies were deployed from San Francisco in Alta California to La Paz, Mexico in Baja California. The ship Isabella sailed from Philadelphia on 16 August 1847, with a detachment of one hundred soldiers, and arrived in California on 18 February 1848, the following year, at about the same time that the ship Sweden arrived with another detachment of soldiers. These soldiers were added to the existing companies of Stevenson's 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers. These troops were recruited with the understanding they would discharged in California. When gold was discovered in late January 1848, many of Stevenson's troops deserted.

California Gold Rush Shipping

The first to hear confirmed information of the California Gold Rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), Mexico, Peru and Chile and they were the first to start flocking to the state in late 1848. By the end of 1848, some 6,000 Argonauts had come to California.[42] President James K. Polk made the “official” announcement of the discovery of gold in California during his State of the Union Address on December 5, 1848 and displayed about 300 ounces of California gold at the War Department. Excitement grew as rumors, reports of officers and soldiers in California, newspaper accounts all seemed to confirm that there was a tremendous amount of gold in California—waiting to be picked up and the ease of getting it. Sam Brannan, publisher of the Alta California at San Francisco, is regarded as starting the "Gold Rush" with stories about the amount of gold throughout late 1848 and 1849. He then became California's first millionaire by "mining the miners" with the sale of provisions. These “forty-niners” left behind families and jobs in the hope of instant wealth. A few succeeded, but the gold fields destroyed some and disappointed many more. Americans and foreigners of many different countries, statuses, classes, and races rushed to California for gold. Almost all (~96%) were young men under 40.[43] Women in the California Gold Rush were few and had many opportunities to do new things and take on new tasks in women poor California. Argonauts, as they were often called, walked over the California Trail or came by sea. About 80,000 Argonauts arrived in 1849 alone—about 40,000 over the California trail and 40,000 by sea. In April 1850, a harbor master’s estimate counted 62,000 people from across the globe arriving in San Francisco by ship in the preceding 12 months. Hundreds of ships lay abandoned, anchored in San Francisco Bay, their passengers and crews out searching for gold. According to Golden State historian Riccardo Gaudino, the Napa Valley became the first wheat granary, not only for the food staple, but also growing barley and hops to fill the demand of these thirsty men who wanted to drink beer.

A popular concept of the California Gold Rush portrays the overland migration by wagon, yet according to the evidence, more people journeyed by sea. A significant factor in this maritime traffic was cargo—supplies, food, tools, lumber etc. for miners and an expanding population. Sea transport was about the only way cargo of any kind could be delivered to California. Carrying material cross country by wagon over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of bad road was a slow, costly process that was seldom done. Research documents show that there were more Portuguese whalers off the California coast than population on the ranchos. In 1846, the first European rural labor was imported to the Pacific from the Portuguese Azores for farm labor on the Sandwich Islands. Not until the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 was there any easy way to move cargo across land to California. Even today, bulky or heavy heavy cargo is usually sent by ship because it is cheap and efficient, though slower than other methods.

Some enterprising migrants set up businesses to furnish, feed, and entertain the region’s growing population. Merchants were more likely to prosper than prospectors. Failed miners became settlers, and San Francisco boomed. The population of California grew from 8,000 in 1846 to about 120,000 in 1850. The majority of the California Argonauts (as they were frequently called) were young Anglo men from the United States. But many were Latins from Chile and Lima-Peru: a mix of indiginents, Spanish, seafaring Genovese Italians and Jewish traders. Those on the East Coast, who could afford the accommodations and bordellos, traveled with sailing ships via New Orleans, Mexico and Central America routes to California. Those who lacked the wealth usually went by wagon, as they had the self-reliant experience and often the supplies and equipment for a long wagon trip.

There were three main ways to get to California by land in 1848 and later: overland by wagon train from the California Trail, across the desert via the Gila Trail or, for winter travel, by the Salt Lake City to Los Angeles Trail. All land routes were restricted to the seasons where travel was feasible. The trip by wagon was a four to six month ordeal across over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of land from a Missouri River town to California or across the deserts of Arizona or Nevada. Those going by wagon train could not leave until the trails were dry and enough grass had started to feed their livestock—usually early May.

The Paddlewheel Steamer

A typical river paddle steamer from the 1850s
The Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake in Branson, U.S.A. is a stern-wheeler showboat. It is run aground in this picture.
SS Savannah the first steam powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean--1819

By 1849 the shipping industry was in transition from sail powered boats to steam powered boats and from wood construction to an ever increasing metal construction. There were basically three different types of ships being used: standard sailing ships of several different types.[44] Clippers, and Paddle steamers with paddles mounted on the side or rear. River steam boats typically used rear mounted paddles and had flat bottoms and shallow hulls designed to carry large loads on generally smooth and occasionally shallow rivers. Ocean going paddle steamers typically used side wheeled paddles and used narrower deeper hulls designed to travel in the often stormy weather encountered at sea. The ship hull design was often based on the Clipper ship design with extra bracing to support the loads and strains imposed by the paddle wheels when they encountered rough water.

The first paddle-steamer to make a long ocean voyage was the 320 ton 98 feet (30 m) long Savannah, built in 1819 expressly for packet ship mail and passenger service to and from Liverpool England. On May 22, 1819, the watch on the Savannah sighted Ireland after 23 days at sea. The Allaire Iron Works of New York supplied Savannah's's engine cylinder,[45] while the rest of the engine components and running gear were manufactured by the Speedwell Ironworks of New Jersey. The 90-horsepower low-pressure engine was of the inclined direct-acting type, with a single 40-inch-diameter (100 cm) cylinder and a 5 feet (1.5 m) stroke. Savannah's engine and machinery were unusually large for their time. The ship's wrought-iron paddlewheels were 16 feet in diameter with eight buckets per wheel. For fuel, the vessel carried 75 tons of coal and 25 cords of wood.[46]

The SS Savannah was too small to carry much fuel and the engine was intended only for use in calm weather and to get in and out of harbors. Under favorable winds the sails alone were able to provide a speed of at least four knots. The SS Savannah was judged not a commercial success and its engine was removed and it was converted back to a regular sailing ship. By 1848 steamboats built by both United States and British shipbuilders were already in use for mail and passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean—a 3,000 miles (4,800 km) journey.

Britannia of 1840 (1150 GRT), the first Cunard liner built for the transatlantic service.
SS California (1848), Pacific Mail Steamship Company's first ship to steam between Panama and San Francisco.

Since paddle steamers typically required from 5 to 16 tons of coal per day to keep their engines running, they were more expensive to run. Initially, nearly all sea going steamboats were equipped with mast and sails to supplement the steam engine power and provide power for occasions when the steam engine needed repair or maintenance. These steamships typically concentrated on high value cargo, mail and passengers and only had moderate cargo capabilities because of their required loads of coal. The typical paddle wheel steamship was powered by a coal burning engine that required firemen to shovel the coal to the burners.[47][48]

By 1849 the screw propeller had been invented and was slowly being introduced as iron increasingly was used in ship construction and the stress introduced by propellers could be compensated for. As the 1800s progressed the timber and lumber needed to make wooden ships got ever more expensive and the iron plate needed for iron ship construction got much cheaper as the massive iron works at Merthyr Tydfil Wales, for example, got ever more efficient. The propeller put a lot of stress on the rear of the ships and would not see large spread use till the conversion from wood boats to iron boats was complete—well underway by 1860. By the 1840s the ocean going steam ship industry was well established as the Cunard Line and others demonstrated.

Starting in 1848 Congress had subsidized the Pacific Mail Steamship Company with $199,999 to set up regular packet ship, mail, passenger and cargo routes in the Pacific Ocean. This was to be a regular scheduled route from Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico to and from San Francisco and Oregon. The Atlantic Ocean mail contract from East Coast cities and New Orleans, Louisiana to and from the Chagres River in Panama was won by the United States Mail Steamship Company whose first steamship, the SS Falcon (1848') was dispatched on 1 December 1848 to the Caribbean terminus of the Isthmus of Panama trail—the Chagres River. The SS California (1848), the first Pacific Mail Steamship Company steamship, showed up in San Francisco, loaded with about twice the passengers it had been designed for, on February 28, 1849. It had made the trip from Panama and Mexico after steaming around Cape Horn from New York. Other steamships soon followed and by late 1849 paddle wheel steamships like the SS Mckim (1848)[49] were carrying miners the 125 miles (201 km) trip from San Francisco up the extensive Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta to Stockton, California, Marysville, California, Sacramento, etc. to get about 125 miles (201 km) closer to the gold fields. Steam powered tugboats and towboats started working in the San Francisco Bay soon after this to expedite shipping in and out of the bay.

As the passenger, mail and high value freight business to and from California boomed more and more paddle steamers were brought into service—eleven by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company alone. About 20% of the California Argonauts are thought to have returned to their homes, mostly on the East Coast of the United States. Some returned with their wives, family and/or sweethearts. Most used the Panama Route. Between the 1849 and 1869 when the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed across the United States about 800,000 travelers used the Panama route.[50] Most of the millions of dollars of gold that was found in California were shipped East via the Panama route on paddle steamers. After 1855 when the Panama Railroad was completed the Panama Route was the quickest and easiest way to get to or from California. The sinking of the Central America loaded with gold influenced the US Congress to pass the transcontinental railroad legislation.

The Sailing ships

Colombian training ship ARC Gloria at sunset in Cartagena, Colombia

Regular sailing ships that had been developed and refined over centuries of use were the cheapest and the slowest transports available. There were several types of sailing ships. They had typically been optimized to carry a large amount of cargo using a small crew of about 20 men and utilized sails in a combination of fore and aft riging and square rigging. Unless the cargo was time sensitive, they were utilized for nearly all long distance shipping and passenger service. At the end of the sailing era windjammers were developed to carry large volumes of low value cargo long distances. Some of the most popular ships were four-masted barques, since the four-masted barque is considered the most efficient rig available because of its ease of handling, small need of manpower, good running capabilities, and good capabilities of rising toward wind.

Once in San Francisco the crews often deserted the ships. The ship owners found little cargo of value to ship back to the East Coast out of California and the ships often went back in ballast with a cargo of useless rocks. Since many of the ships were older and required expensive maintenance and crews were very hard to find and/or very expensive many hundreds of vessels were simply abandoned or sold at very low cost in San Francisco Bay. Others were converted into store ships or floating warehouses, stores, hotels, prisons, etc.. Some abandoned ships were bought cheap, filled with ballast and sunk on the mud flats at high tide to enlarge the available wharves and docks. The ships were typically stripped of her upper works and all usable fittings by one of San Francisco's many marine salvage firms of Gold Rush days and then covered with debris and sand as developers filled in the mud flats on the bay and built wharves out to deeper water to accommodate docking ships. By 1857 nearly all abandoned shipping in the San Francisco Bay that had not been re-used was sent to a marine salvage or ship breaking firms where all usable fixtures, anchors, etc. were removed, the copper bottom (about 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of copper) salvaged and the timbers were removed and set aside for other uses. The rapidly expanding city of San Francisco needed room to store all of the incoming goods and much larger dockside facilities—there were none when California was annexed. There initially was not time to build adequate warehouses, wharves, docks on the water front. In early September 2001, the General Harrison, was discovered at the northwest corner of Battery and Clay streets during construction. She was built in 1840 in Newburyport, Massachusetts and abandoned sometime before 1850 and turned into a store ship (warehouse). She was 126.1 feet (38.4 m) long, 26.5 feet (8.1 m) wide, 13.25 feet (4.04 m) in depth and displaced 409 tons. She was burned to the water line in one of San Francisco's early fires. The remains, including some of the stores on board, were filled with sand and built over.[51]

Aerial view of San Francisco Bay looking east from the Pacific.

The average realized speed for the typical sailing ship was about 3.5 miles (5.6 km)per hour, the Clippers could often reach about 10 miles (16 km)per hour of realized speed with steam ships averaging about 8 miles (13 km)per hour. The trips by steamship to Panama and Nicaragua from New York, Philadelphia and Boston were about 2,600 miles (4,200 km) long and took about two weeks. Trips across the Isthmus of Panama or Nicaragua typically took about one week. The 4,000 miles (6,400 km) trip to San Francisco, California could be done by side wheel steamer in about three weeks. In addition to this travel time via the Panama route typically had a two to four week waiting period to find a ship going from Panama City, Panama to San Francisco, California. Once in San Francisco the Argonauts typically took a steamer (starting in1849) to Stockton, California or Sacramento, California to get closer to the gold fields.

The Clippers

Hornet An advertisement of an American clipper ship of the 1850s

The Clippers, developed and mainly used between about 1840 and 1860 were some of the last and “best” commercial sailing ships invented. The Clippers had more sails and faster hulls and were some of the fastest sailing ships ever developed. The Clippers required a larger crew to man the larger expanse of sails and typically carried high value cargo with few passenger accommodations. Under ideal conditions Clippers have been logged at over 20 miles per hour (32 km/h)—covering over 450 miles (720 km) in one day. The average speed over a long journey was about 8 miles per hour (13 km/h). The typical Clipper carried high value, large volume cargo and normally carried only about six passengers. They competed with the paddle steamers on the shorter Panama, Nicaragua, and Mexican routes. Because of their shorter runs these paddle steamers were faster but much more costly to run and typically only took high value cargo like passengers, mail and gold shipments. Clippers averaged about 120 days passage on the about 17,000 miles (27,000 km) trip between East Coast cities and San Francisco—about 80 days faster to travel the conventional sailing ships.

In 1845 the Rainbow, 757 tons OM, the first extreme clipper was launched in New York. These American clippers were larger vessels designed to sacrifice cargo capacity for speed. They had a bow lengthened above the water, a drawing out and sharpening of the forward body, and the greatest breadth further aft. Extreme clippers were built in the period 1845 to 1855.

Clippers sometimes took a trip across the Pacific Ocean to Shanghai or some other port in China to pick up a cargo of tea, silk, porcelain, etc. for a profitable return trip to their home port. The alternative was to return in ballast with a useless cargo of rocks. Some Clippers were used on the Hawaii to California routes as they shipped mainly food stocks to California.

In 1853 the Clipper ’’Flying Cloud’’ sailed from New York City and made San Francisco around Cape Horn in 89 days, 8 hours; a record that stood 136 years until 1989 when the breakthrough-designed sailboat Thursday's Child[52] completed the passage in 80 days, 20 hours. The record was once again broken in 2008 by the special built French racing yacht Gitana 13, with a time of 43 days and 38 minutes.

To California via Panama

Map of the route across Panama and the Panama Railroad

By mid 1849 there were steamship lines dropping people from off at the mouth of the Chagres River on the Caribbean side of Panama. There were then no docking facilities off the Chagres River mouth and passengers had to come ashore in small boats—not an easy task in bad weather. The east to west transit across the Isthmus of Panama was about 30 miles (48 km) by native dugout boats (later modified lifeboats were used) up the often wild and dangerous Chagres River and then by mule back for the final 20 miles (32 km) over the old Spanish trails. The trails had fallen into serious disrepair after almost 50+ years of little or no maintenance and up to 3 meters of rain each year in the roughly April to December rainy season. One of the major problems was getting reliable transport of luggage and freight over the Isthmus of Panama. Even after all arrangements were made and payments made it was not unusual to have to wait weeks longer in Panama City for your luggage to arrive. A transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific (or from Pacific to Atlantic) would usually take four to eight days by dugout canoe and mule back. The transit was fraught with dangers and disease. After the arrival in Panama City the traveler had to wait in a hot, dirty, crowded, disease laden city for their luggage to arrive and then for passage on a paddle steamer to California. One of the main problems initially encountered was getting further passage on a ship to California—there were not enough steamers to carry the passengers and cargo that built up in Panama City. By late 1849 paddle steamer routes had been established to and from Panama City and other ports in Nicaragua and Mexico to San Francisco. Panama City had a poor harbor and again the ships anchored off shore and a small boat was required to board them.

Those going to California by crossing Panama, Nicaragua or Mexico had a much quicker trip than going around Cape Horn or taking the California Trail to California. A typical trip could be done in about 30–90 days assuming shipping and transit connections could be made. The biggest handicap the Panama, Nicaragua or Mexico routes had was the wait until scheduled Pacific shipping was established in late 1849 to carry them to California. These routes also suffered form the risk of catching a possibly fatal disease and having to potentially endure threats of attack by bandits. Unfortunately, getting shipping from the Pacific ports of Panama, Nicaragua, or Mexico to California was very problematic until mid to late 1849. Mail, returning gold miners and gold shipments nearly all used the Panama Route. The number of passengers who used the Panama route in 1849 and 1850 is unknown but must be numbered in the tens of thousands. In 1851 29,600 passengers used the Panama Route. This increased to 33,000 passengers in 1852 and dropped to 27,200 passengers in 1853.[53] by the time the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the United States in 1869 its believed 800,000 travelers had used the Panama Route to get to and from California.[54] Its estimated that 20% of the original Argonauts left to return home—most via the Panama Route. Many returned to California with their wives and families.

As steamships became available, regular paddle steamer service opened a major mail, passenger and high value cargo link between the two coasts of the United States. The first transcontinental railroad, the Panama Railroad, was finished in 1855 at a cost of about 5,000 lives and $8,000,000 and provided a major faster link with the East Coast and West Coast. Regardless of how the miners had originally got to California nearly all returned back East via Panama—the easiest and fastest route. The returning miners and the returning gold were welcomed in the East and the mail and newspapers exchanged soon established strong east-west bonds. After it was completed in 1855 the ease of use of the Panama Railroad meant that the Panama Route carried most of the high value, time sensitive freight to and from California. Most female traffic went from east to west over the Panama Route which was the easiest and fasted route after about 1852. Women in the California Gold Rush were scarce but played an major role in settling California. Wives and sweethearts passage via Panama to California was normally paid for by miners or businessmen who had decided to stay in California. These women arriving in nearly every ship from Panama soon changed the character of women scarce California as they rapidly out numbered the prostitutes who had initially flocked there.

Money in California was scarce as very few had brought much with them and the costly living expenses soon exhausted much of it. Shipments of specie were brought in but they never seemed to be enough and workers were happy to be paid in a amalgam of several different coins from several different countries. Loose gold dust was valued at $16.00 per troy ounce then and almost all merchants, bars, gambling dens etc. had scales available to allow the miners to pay for their purchases in gold. After passing though many hands in California gold eventually, almost inevitably, went East to pay for merchandise bought in the west and imported from the East. The primary gold shipment route was via well guarded paddle steamers to and from Panama. Gold shipments on Panama paddle steamers often totaled over $1,000,000 per voyage and totaled over $64,000,000 in gold by 1853.[55]

To California via Mexico

Satellite view of Veracruz

The Mexican route usually involved taking passage in a paddle steamer to Vera Cruz Mexico, making your way 500 miles (800 km) across Mexico to Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast. This reversed the path taken by much of the Manila Galleon's cargo from Manila which was unloaded at Acapulco Mexico and transferred to Veracruz for further shipment to Spain The Manila Galleon was Spain's main link to the spices from the Spice Islands[disambiguation needed ] and silk etc. from China. By 1849 the paddle steamer had been developed and Veracruz soon became a scheduled stop for many paddle steamers. One of the main hazards of this route was being accosted by robbers and it was recommended that this passage should by done in groups of 50 or more.[56] After the Panama Railroad was completed in 1855 with a cost of about 5,000 lives and $8,000,000 the Mexico route was almost shut down.

Other longer routes typically involved landing at Tampico, Mexico and then traversing the country to catch a ship in Mazatlan, Mexico. These routes were used mainly by those who had business in Mexico City or some other Mexican city. All Mexican travel suffered from the relative lack of steamship service and risk of robberies compared to the Nicaragua and Panama route.

To California via Nicaragua

Artist's conception of the proposed canal showing the San Juan River, Lake Nicaragua and the Caribbean Sea

Wider than Panama the Nicaragua route had the advantage of the easily navigated San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua with only a short excursion to the Pacific. By 1851 trips by steamship to Panama and Nicaragua from New York, Philadelphia, Boston and New Orleans were about 2,600 miles (4,200 km) long and took about two weeks by steamship. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt established a route through Nicaragua in 1850 that would shorten the water distance between New York and San Francisco by nearly 500 miles (800 km). The route was by paddle steamer to the San Juan River in Nicaragua and then up the river by small steamboat or native craft to Lake Nicaragua. After transiting the lake by small boat the travelers could exit and take a stagecoach or mule ride to San Juan del Sur or other city in the Pacific side of Nicaragua. From there it was a short steamer ride to San Francisco after steamship lines were established. By early 1852 Vanderbilt was employing seven steamers and offering serious competition to the Panama route.

Early travelers til about 1851 had a difficult time knowing if and when a paddle steamer would arrive. Vanderbilt started his service with steamer steamer Independence in July 1851 and was soon joined by the steamer Prometheus and Pacific. The line prospered offering serious competition to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. By 1852 there are a recorded 17,400 Nicaragua crossing passengers compared to 29,600 crossing Panama. These numbers closed to 24,000 Nicaragua crossings in 1852 to 27,200 Panama crossings in 1853.[57] As the Panama Railroad progressed across the Isthmus of Panama they took more and more of the traffic and after the railroad was completed in 1855 with a cost of about 5,000 lives and $8,000,000, combined with civil strife in Nicaragua, the Nicaragua route was almost shut down.

To California via Cape Horn

When news of the California Gold Rush was confirmed late in 1848 many on the East Coast were ready to start on their way to California. The route was well known because of the many whaling ships who had already traversed Cape Horn on their way to Pacific whaling grounds or ports of call in Hawaii and California. Moreover due to the extensive whaling industry, ships were available in profusion; and was not the ocean the traditional Yankee highway? In most East coastal cities there were mariners who were well acquainted with the Horn route and who knew precisely how to prepare for a voyage to California. One of the chief advantages of the Cape Horn route was that those going by Cape Horn or the Straits of Magellan could leave at any time of the year they could find a ship. Then there were Argonauts who foresaw the broad needs and demands of a mining center on the Pacific Coast and who brought along goods of all descriptions and sizes, from needles to knocked-down steamboats, on which they hoped to realize good profits. Indeed, some had no intention to do actual mining but to earn their fortune by providing goods and services to the miners.

Most passengers initially got sea-sick and spent a miserable time before getting their sea legs. The nature of the passage involving crossing the equator twice and the length of the average voyage in miles and time-often more than six months-meant unusual supply difficulties. Some ships stocked chickens, pigs and/or goats to supply fresh eggs and meat some time during the voyage. Large amounts of fresh water and food (usually salted meat and sea biscuits or hardtack) were required for the trip. The salted meat (about the only way meat could be preserved then) would have to be soaked overnight in fresh water to leach out the salt and make it semi-edible. Most Captains understood the causes of scurvy and provided some lemon or lime juice to prevent it. Despite the monotonous and often tasteless fare many gained weight on the trip as they had virtually nothing to do except occasional laundry and endless card games. Storms were a time of high suspense as the storm tossed their ship heavily from side to side and end to end. Goods, suitcases, etc. not tied down were soon rolling and sliding across the decks. Clothes were often washed by tying them to a rope and letting them be pulled behind the ship. Many spent hours fishing but rarely caught anything. When fish were caught they were a welcome addition to the monotonous diet. Sleeping was often done in crowded passenger quarters or on the deck—weather permitting. If the weather was fine and the crew permitted it many tied a hammock in the rigging and slept outside. Those who purchased cabin fare usually had a narrow cabin with a door and a cot that was under 5.5 feet (1.7 m) long (people were shorter then) and about 1.5 feet (0.46 m) wide. The only extra room was the space under the bed for personal effects and luggage. Those who paid "steerage" fares (about 50% less) slept in common bunk rooms.

It was common practice to stop at a least two ports en-route in order to take on additional supplies of fresh food, water and wood as well as a welcome chance to get off the ships. Rio de Janeiro or Santa Catarina (island), Brazil (often called St. Catharine’s then) were common stopping places on the Atlantic side of South America. Some passengers were so desperate for fresh food that they often procured thousands of oranges or other fruit that was ripe while they were there and ate it after they continued on.

The Strait of Magellan comprises a navigable sea route immediately south of mainland South America and north of Tierra del Fuego. The waterway is the most important natural passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, but it is considered a difficult route to navigate because of the unpredictable winds and currents and the narrowness of the passage.

Captains who elected to utilize the Strait of Magellan to bypass Cape Horn and shorten the trip by about 500 miles (800 km) experienced a passage of from three to six weeks' duration in surroundings so forbidding and monotonous it often provoked despair. The narrow channels of the straits the unpredictable currents, tides, and winds were constant hazards, especially to sailing vessels—steamed powered vessels had an easier passage.

Drake Passage showing the boundary points A, B, C, D, E and F accorded by the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina

The other main way around South America was by way of Drake Passage south of Cape Horn. It is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea) with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean. The passage is named after the 16th century English privateer Sir Francis Drake who was the first to discover the passage in 1578. Most sailing ship Captains preferred the Drake Passage, which is open water for hundreds of miles, despite being often marked by very rough conditions and high winds. There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the 55.6 to 62.8 degrees South latitudes of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which carries a huge volume of water (about 600 times the flow of the Amazon River) through the Passage and around Antarctica. There are nearly always strong currents and high winds in Drakes Passage—called the Roaring Forties.

In the Pacific Juan Fernández Islands of Talcahuano, Valparaiso Chile or Callao Peru were among the favorite watering and re-stocking ports in the Pacific. Valparaiso, despites its mediocre harbor, then was the main entrepôt (trans-shipping) port on the Pacific side of South America. After leaving the South America coast the ships were buffeted by often baffling and contrary breezes as they traveled across the equatorial trade winds before reaching California waters. Contrary winds often forced the ships far out into the Pacific-sometimes as distant as 140 degrees west (-140) longitude before they encountered a favorable on shore breeze and could sail towards San Francisco Bay. San Francisco is at -122.5 degrees longitude.

The last hazards to California-bound vessels were the approach and entrance to San Francisco Bay. The Spanish had picked Monterey, California as their first Capitol due to its easier and safer approach to the harbor as well as having a better climate. The Farallon Islands off the mouth of San Francisco Bay were the graveyard of several ships, and the narrow, often fog-shrouded opening into the bay was always a danger. Soon after the ship traffic built up ship pilots who were knowledgeable of the bay were at work boarding incoming (and outgoing) ships and guiding the ships to a safe anchorage in the bay. By 1851 the tangle of ships in the Bay had led to the creation of a Harbourmaster who dictated where ships could drop anchor. Once inside San Francisco Bay, vessels were reported and identified to the people of San Francisco by the watchman with a telescope in a tower erected in September 1849 on Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. The watchman signaled the presence of incoming ships to the people in the city by hoisting up the telegraph mast one semaphore arm for a schooner, two for a brig, three for a ship and two raised about 45 degree semaphore signals for a paddle steamer. These signals were soon known by most residents of San Francisco.

Once inside the Bay and anchored the next visitors were typically members of the Revenue Cutter Service (predecessor of U.S. Coast Guard). Founded by Alexander Hamilton on 4 August 1790, the Revenue Cutter Service is the United States' oldest continuous seagoing service and enforced the tarrif laws and tariff collection via custom duties (tariffs or ad-valorem taxes) on foreign import goods. In the 1800s about 85%-95% of the money collected and used by the Federal Government were from tariff collections. Custom collections were set up by late 1847 in San Francisco, California--the designated port of entry for most of California.

The all sea trip around Cape Horn to California by the standard sailing vessels typically took about 200 days (about 6.5 months) and covered from 16,000 miles (26,000 km)} to 18,000 miles (29,000 km)}. Some trips took almost a year. The all sea route enabled enterprising emigrants to ship baggage and supplies they hoped to sell in California for gold dust. The Cape Horn route was essentially the only route where low, medium or high weight or high volume goods could be shipped cheaply. Other routes, which often cost significantly more, usually specialized in high value, low weight goods like mail, passengers or gold dust. Starting out with essentially nothing, goods from the East Coast or Britain were often desperately needed and usually sold for high profits. The long delay between seeing a market, ordering the goods and shipping the goods made business risky. Some of the cargoes that were usually profitable were food, liquor, lumber and building supplies. Other ship loads of goods when they showed up saturated the marketplace and the goods often had to be auctioned off at a loss. Most cargoes included a variety of goods to minimize this problem.

When the Central Pacific Railroad started construction of the Transcontinental railroad in 1863 all their locomotives, box cars, rails and railroad supplies were shipped via this route. It might be slow but a ship going around Cape Horn to California could carry high weight and high volume products cheaper than anything else. Nearly all the ships that were abandoned in San Francisco Bay came by the Cape Horn route. Since the route back to the East coast was so long and return cargo almost nonexistent the ships which arrived in San Francisco, initially tended to stay there as the crew and passengers abandoned the ship for the gold fields. As it became clear what was needed in San Francisco and the rest of California some of the newer ships were put back into service with higher paid crews. Some were put back into service crewed by disillusioned gold diggers seeking a cheap way back home. Many ships were used for shorter runs to Pacific ports for food supplies or lumber—essentially all that was available then. During October 1849, 63 vessels left San Francisco; 25 sailed for South America, primarily Valparaiso or Callao; 10 vessels sailed for the Hawaiian islands (20–30 days each way), 9 went to Oregon and the 9 to other non-Pacific ports.[58] The high fares initially charged for paddle steamer passages to Panama induced some Captains to allow passengers to work their way back to the East Coast for a low cost return. This made it possible to put a crew together at a "reasonable" cost.

To California from China

News of the California Gold Strike arrived in China by the end of 1848. Only a few hundred Chinese traveled to California in 1849; but this turned into a steady flood as travel arrangements were worked out by 1851 and later. The Taiping Revolution in China and the poverty and violence in China induced many Chinese to leave China searching for a way to earn a better living. Most Chinese, like most early California travelers, came to California with the goal of quickly making enough money to pay for their passage and improve their own and their family’s status and lifestyle in China after they returned.

Nearly all Chinese immigrants to California were young men with almost no women. Their wives, families and relatives remained in China. The Chinese tended to congregate in heavily male small semi-isolated “China Towns” wherever they settled. One of the primary problems they encountered in California was the acute lack of Chinese women—almost none initially immigrated. This "problem" was somewhat alleviated when recruiters ending up procuring or “buying” Chinese prostitutes and shipping them to the United States. There they went to work in brothels or were "bought" by wealthy Chinese. Some of the more affluent Chinese in California could “buy” a Chinese mistress for about $300 to $500. The large population, the common condition of extreme poverty in China and the low status of women in China made recruiting or "buying" women for this “profession” fairly easy in China.

Nearly all these Chinese men initially planned to return to China once they had made enough money. About half of the initial Chinese immigrants did return to China where their wives and families lived. Most of the Chinese immigrants booked their passages on ships with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company (founded 1848) or on the American China Clippers who often left California empty and looking for a new cargo before returning home. Nearly all Chinese immigrants neither spoke and understood English nor were they familiar with western culture and life. While in the United States they had little incentive to assimilate into the dominate culture or learn anything more than a rudimentary English language skills. They did nearly all their business with a few Chinese business men that established businesses in California "China Towns". The hostility they experienced from nearly all other cultures in America and their belief that they would return to China often discouraged them from even attempting to assimilate. The bankers and shipping companies, who first backed the emigration project with British trading companies, then turned to Italy for the "Whitening of America" project by promoting the "gold in the streets" dream to fill cheap, foreign labor contracts.

Port of San Francisco

Merchant ships fill San Francisco harbor in 1850 or 1851

The port of San Francisco initially starting out as only a few ramshackle buildings with a population of about 180 in 1846 grew rapidly to several thousand residents only a few years later. San Francisco was the nearest seaport to the gold fields with full access to virtually all on going sea traffic and freight shipments. The port of San Francisco boomed and expanded very rapidly to a California state census population of about 32,000 in 1852 (The San Francisco—the largest city in the state—U.S. California Census of 1850 was burned in one of the frequent fires in San Francisco[59]). In addition San Francisco had access to the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta which gave access to ship traffic going to Sacramento, Stockton and Marysville, California which were all about 120 miles (190 km) closer to the goldfields. Paddle steamers were put in service by late 1849 and provided "easy" transport of passengers and freight to Sacramento, California, etc.--the start of the gold country. San Francisco soon boomed as the chief entrepot (port) of California. Homes, hotels, banks, bar rooms, gambling establishments, wharfs, warehouses and other needed buildings were built as rapidly as possible.

There were many Argonauts and companies of Argonauts who foresaw the broad needs and demands of a rapidly increasing and hopefully wealthy population in California. Many Argonauts brought along goods of all descriptions and sizes, from needles to knocked-down steamboats, on which they hoped to sell and realize good profits. Indeed, many had no intention of panning gold or of digging for it in the mines. They would rather sell goods and go into a business which the new mining community would support. After all, gold was the objective; what did it matter whether the means of attaining it were direct or indirect? Ships provided almost the only link for new supplies—overland travel was too difficult and took too long. One downside that soon developed in California was the long delay in communication between the east and west coast. It took over 40 days to get a message back to the East Coast of the United States and often over 200–300 days to get new supplies shipped in by sailing ships. Only high priced and lighter and smaller items could take the shorter and quicker paddle steamer route over the Isthmus of Panama, nearly everything else had to travel the approximate 17,000 miles (27,000 km) and over 200 day route all sailing ship route around Cape Horn or the Straits of Magellan. Higher priced, time sensitive goods, were often shipped in the faster Clipper sailing ship which could make the trip from New York, Boston, etc. to San Francisco in about 120 days. Goods when they were shipped from the East coast (and Europe) were in shipload quantities when they arrived. This often suppressed the local market for that product and some goods would have to be auctioned off at low prices to pay for freight etc. with little or no profit. Very mixed cargo was typical of early shipments to minimize this problem. Food, liquors and building supplies nearly always be sold at a profit. Some business men thrived in this chaotic environment, many others lost their shirts.

One of the first and urgent products needed was food and building supplies which could be bought and shipped from local Pacific ports to San Francisco, Sacramento, etc. Soon ships were going to and from Oregon, Hawaii, Mexico, Valparaíso Chile, etc. to get food and building supplies that could be shipped back to San Francisco. San Francisco shipping boomed and wharves and piers had to be developed to handle the onslaught of cargo--Long Wharf was probably the most prominent. Farmers, laborers, business men, prospective miners, gamblers, entertainers and prostitutes, etc. from around the world came to San Francisco.

The few Californio ranchers already living in California initially prospered as the sudden increase in the demand for meat drove up the price paid for livestock. Prices zoomed from the about $2.00 a hide to about $30.00-$40.00 per cow for meat they could get from hungry miners. Initially the Californios prospered. Later, these food shipments changed mainly to shipments from Oregon and internal shipments in California as agriculture was developed in both states. Taxes, mortgages, squatters and the cost of proving ownership of their enormous land holdings combined with droughts that seriously decreased the size of their herds led many of the about 500 Californio ranch owners to lose some or all of their enormous land holdings.

Some of the goods that were imported by ship included liquor: absinthe, alcohol, ale, beer, whiskey, cognac, cider, champagne, wine, sherry, brandy, claret. Tools like shovels, picks and gold balances. Consumables like cigars, cards, candles; clothing: boots, shoes, underwear; pants, shirts, etc. Fruit like bananas, oranges, and lemons. Food like molasses, flour, oysters, hams, barrels of salted meat, rice, coffee, tea, eggs (from Mexico); cheese, sugar, coffee, potatoes, onions, limes, coconuts, raisins, almonds. Lumber from Oregon and other parts of the U.S. and England (500,000 board feet of lumber and 500,000 bricks from Bath England in one ship's cargo). Building materials like nails, bricks, linseed oil, shingles, windows, stoves, lumber, etc.. Miscellaneous items like furniture, wagons, carts, fishing boats, steam engines, etc. Coal that was needed to power the steam ships. Livestock like hogs, cows, horses, sheep, chickens, etc. Completed knocked down houses both metal and wooden. Some ships carried mostly mail and passengers. Almost anything could eventually be bought at some price.

San Francisco was designated the official Port of entry for all California ports where U.S. Customs (also called tariffs and Ad valorem taxs) (averaging about 25%) were collected by the Collector of customs from all ships bearing foreign goods. The first Collector of customs was Edward H. Harrison appointed by General Kearny. Shipping boomed from the average of about 25 vessels from 1825 to 1847[60] to about 793 ships in 1849 and 803 ships in 1850.[61] All ships were inspected for what goods they carried to collect the appropriate customs. Passengers disembarking in San Francisco had one of the easier accesses to the gold country since they could from San Francisco take a paddle wheel steamer, after 1849, to Sacramento and several other towns.

Starting in 1849 many of the ship crews jumped ship and headed for the gold fields when they reached port. Soon San Francisco Bay had many hundreds of abandoned ships anchored off shore. The better ships were re-crewed and put back in the shipping and passenger business. Others were bought cheap and hauled up on the mud flats and used as store ships, saloons, temporary stores, floating warehouses, homes and a number of other uses. Many of these re-purposed ships were partially destroyed in one of San Francisco's many fires and ended up as landfill to expand the available land. The population of San Francisco exploded from about 200 in 1846 to 36,000 in the 1852 California Census.[62] Unfortunately, the 1850 U.S. Census of San Francisco was burned in one of its frequent fires.

In San Francisco initially many people were housed in wooden houses, ships hauled up on the mud flats to serve as homes or businesses, wood framed canvas tents used for saloons, hotels and boarding houses as well as other flammable structures. Lighting and heat were provided by burning oil lamps or open fires. All these canvas and wood structures housing fires, lanterns and candles combined with a lot of drunken gamblers and miners led almost inevitably to many fires. Most of San Francisco burned down six times in six Great Fires between 1849 and 1852.[63]

California Fisheries

Native Fisheries

Grizzly Bear fishing for salmon at Brooks Falls, Alaska

California has had an extensive fishery since it was discovered over 10,000 years ago. The Native American inhabitants of California, nearly all hunter-gatherers, harvested many types of fish and shellfish as a regular and often major component of their diet. Several varieties of salmon and Steelhead were one of the mainstays of the California Indians living in the Northwest coast of California. The natives moved along the rivers and across the seas using canoes they had made using fire and stone age tools out of large trees—usually redwood. Salmon spawned in most rivers in California sometime during the year and were a welcome addition to the diet of people living near almost all streams. Many tribes migrated to a given area during spawning runs to harvest the fish. Fish were caught with spears, harpoons, fish nets, fish traps (fishing weirs), hooks and fishing lines, gathering seafood by hand and using specific plant toxins (soaproot, buckeye nuts, and wild cucumber root)[64] to temporarily paralyze the fish so they would float to the surface where could easily be captured. About the only early competitor for fish was the Grizzly Bears who lived in California then and who also liked salmon. Like acorns, the other staple of the California Indian diet, salmon and other fish were usually smoked or sun dried and stored in woven baskets so they could not spoil and were available to eat nearly year round.

The Chumash people and Tongva people used sewen plank canoes (Tomols) to travel across and fish in the seas between the Southwest California Coast and the Channel Islands of California. Some of their chief catches were sardines (pilchards) who were mentioned several times by the early Spanish explorers. The sardines were caught primarily with some kind of net.

The Native Americans in the San Francisco Bay constructed the Emeryville Shellmound and over 400 other shellmounds made up of inedible shellfish shells from millions of meals consumed at or near the shellmound sites. The size of these mounds indicate that they had to have accumulated over hundreds if not thousands of years and indicate a well used and stable resource. The shells they threw aside from their catches of shellfish eventually covered some hundreds of thousands of square feet, sometimes tens of feet thick. Most of the shells are from oysters (Ostrea lurida) which occurred in large oyster reefs throughout the San Francisco Bay area. How they are harvested is unknown but may have been by hand or by using oyster rakes. Tule (Schoenoplectus acutus) canoes were often used for fishing, moving between shell beds, hunting and fishing sites in the Bay area and the extensive Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta.

Modern Fisheries

During the Spanish colonization and Mexican periods there are no known fisheries developed. Indeed they probably contracted as the Chumash people and Tongva people were enticed to move to the Spanish Missions of California and their movement and populations rapidly decreased.

During the California Gold Rush there were many new immigrants who were familiar with fishing. There was a large demand for fresh food including fresh fish and shellfish among the rapidly increasing California immigrants. In particular, the seamen from the Ligurian Coast of the Italian Riviera, sailing to the continent of America from the famous Port of Genova, had enjoyed a privilege role as navigators in the Spanish Empire's expansion in Pacific-America. While many started as cabin boys at the age of six years, the mariners would jump ship and use their subsistence skills as fishermen for survival. Along the California Coast, many Azorean-Portuguese had already turned from whaling to fishing. When they didn't get rich mining gold, the sea offered a bounty. But the Anglo-Argonauts, like Lewis and Clarke before them, may have preferred to eat dog meat instead of salmon. From the village of Riva Trigoso, these sailors expanded their chain of fishing colonies to sell "fresha fishie" in towns at San Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Stockton, Sausalito, Eureka to Alaska. They built their own small fishing boats and economy using the traditional "lateen" sail technology to feed a hungry nation.

Some of the first "modern" fishermen in California were also Chinese sampans fishing for squid, abalone and fish on Monterey Bay. The Chinese, who came from the coastal Canton region of South China Sea, were able to export roughly two hundred to eight hundred pounds of fresh fish to San Francisco every day or one hundred tons per year. They were soon joined by many Ligurians who shared cultural-interchange by using Chinese and Portuguese techniques for fishing the rocky coast for rock cod, salmon and other fisheries. The small Latin fishing communities expanded with the growth of "Good Friday" by making a living at fishing for the markets and supplying San Francisco packers. The Chinese then specialized in squid fishing at night for their Asian markets. In 1899, the sardine fishery collapsed in Italy, energizing the immigration to America's fishing villages.

At Black Diamond (now Pittsburg), Frank Booth ran a successful salmon cannery with the Sicilian settlement on the Sacramento River. At Monterey in 1902, he purchased a struggling cannery next to Fisherman's Wharf, and began experimenting with the bay's abundant sardines. Booth succeeded, owing to his preseverence and the critical contributions of two immigrant men. Knut Hovden was a Norwegian fisheries expert and engineer who designed a modern assembly line operation and much of the machinery for mass production. Pietro Ferrante was a fisherman whose early success on the Delta led to conflicts with the Genovese, resulting in his interest to relocate in Monterey where Booth needed a loyal fleet. In 1905, Ferrante arrived with his brother-in-law Orazio Enea, quickly attracting their extended families from the inland Delta and Palermo, Italy areas. The sardine canning industry steadily assumed control, displacing the competition of Asian and Genovese smaller catches for the fresh fish markets. The ready cannery labor force included the families of fishermen. Booth's cannery of "cousins" led California fisheries into the industrial age.

One of the more unusual developments in the exploitation of natural resources was the market for fresh eggs during the Gold Rush leading people to take small boats to the Farallon Islands to collect wild bird eggs. They sometimes collected up to 500,000 eggs in a year. The Egg War is the name given to an 1863 armed conflict between rival egging companies on the Farallon Islands, 25 miles west of San Francisco.

Early steam powered seine netter

The fishing vessels first used were powered by wind and oars. Since "modern" fishing in California was developed after 1850 (at about the same time as steamships) there were soon some steam powered fishing vessels being used for longer distance fishing in bigger boats. The steam was used both for propulsion and also for winching in nets, unloading catches, lifting and lowering anchors etc. As the diesel engines and petrol engines (gasoline engine) were developed in the early 1900s they were soon the engine of choice. Diesel engines are now the engine of choice for powering most commercial fishing vessels. Their economical operation and long lifetimes make their higher initial cost normally well worthwhile. Today many smaller and sports boats are powered by an outboard motor consisting of a self-contained unit that includes engine, gearbox and propeller or jet drive, designed to be affixed to the outside of the transom. The outboard motor provides steering control both as a movable rudder and by pivoting over their mountings to control the direction of thrust. Outboard motors have less than one horsepower to over 200 hp and are relatively easy to remove for service or replacement.

Commercial fishing today uses a variety of techniques for fishing. Fishing rods with baited hooks and fishing lines used in various ways are used for fishing for some particular types of fish. Fishing using nets like cast nets, hand nets, drift nets, gillnets, seine nets, trawl nets, surrounding nets etc. of various sizes and construction as well as longline fishing with hundreds of hooks on a line fishing both for bottom and Pelagic fish (near surface fish) are the most common devices used to catch high yields of fish. The crab fisheries uses crab pots baited with dead fish to catch crabs.

Double-rigged shrimp trawler hauling in the nets

In some parts of the Pacific Northwest, fishing with baited traps is also common. Common commercial methods for catching shrimp and prawns include bottom trawling, cast nets, seines, shrimp baiting and dip netting. Bottom trawling often tears up the ocean bottom and can be very destructive to all bottom dwelling fish. Trawling involves the use of a system of nets deployed on or near the sea floor. Benthic trawling is towing or dragging a net at the very bottom of the ocean. Demersal trawling is towing a net just above the benthic zone. Midwater trawling (pelagic trawling) is trawling, or net fishing nearer the surface of the ocean.

For some applications a fish trap is used. Fish traps or fishing weirs restricts the flow of fish so that they are directed into a trap. The fish stay alive until they are removed and these techniques can be used to free some types of fish that are preferentially not caught. Today elaborate fishing trawlers, etc. are all examples of the fishing techniques used today. To keep the caught fish fresh they are often kept in refrigerated holds or packed in ice.

As is typical worldwide of public owned resources, unlimited fishing has led to severe overfishing for some fisheries. In response to this quotas, catch limits, closed and open seasons and other regulations had to be set in place to control the who, when, how and where questions of fishing. In 1851—California enacted a law concerning oysters and oyster beds. In 1852 the first regulation of salmon fishing occurred when fishing weirs or stream fish obstructions were prohibited and closed seasons established. In 1870 California Board of Fish Commissioners, predecessor to the California Department of Fish and Game was established. In 1870 the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) was introduced, in 1871 shad, in 1874 Catfish and in 1879 striped bass were all introduced to California waters.[65] California has about 4,000 lakes and 37,000 miles (60,000 km) of streams and canals suitable for game fish. To help fish get around dams fish ladders are constructed to allow them to pass on upstream for spawning etc. To preserve, protect and enhance existing fishing the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) tries to keep all fishing laws enforced. The 720 properties managed by the DFG are: 110 wildlife areas, 130 ecological reserves, 11 marine reserves, 159 public access areas, 21 fish hatcheries and 289 other types of properties.[66] To help keep California waters stocked with fish in 1870 the first California fish hatcheries were built—mostly trout hatcheries. Today (2011) there are eight salmon and steelhead hatcheries and 13 trout hatcheries. Though hatcheries may help some fishing stocks they are no panacea to counteract overfishing, habitat destruction, stream restrictions, water diversions, etc.[67]

In 1899 the first sardine cannery (San Francisco Bay) was built. Sardines, at this time, existed in large schools of millions of fish migrating each year up the California coast to spawn. The first factory was soon supplemented by about 40 more factories starting about 1902—most around Monterey California. On the Sacramento River, the Sicilians from Parlermo's village of Isola Della Femina immigrants had established a chain of colonies using gill nets for the salmon fisheries. Baseball hall-of-fame slugger Joe DiMaggio's family was from Martinez. Fishing technology at Monterey at the time was archaic and inefficient; the canning process was equally crude. The unsightliness, odor, and processing waste from harbor canneries dictated that all future canneries would have to locate away from any business or residential district. A process was developed for “reducing” fish heads, tails, guts and skin into meal that could be processed into fertilizer and livestock feed. "Reduction" was cheap because it didn’t require much labor, and the market for fishmeal was unlimited. Monterey became a cannery town. About 70% of all sardines were ground up and used as fertilizer and lifestock feed with only about 30% canned. The yield of sardines landed was about 500,000 tons in 1940 down to only 53 tons in 1953.[68] In 1940 sardines were the most valuable fishing stock in the state. As the temperature of the ocean dropped the migrating sardine schools largely disappeared after 1950 from California waters and nearly all the canneries shut down. The ocean temperature has an irregular cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation turned water temperatures colder in the mid-1940s, driving sardines southward and intensifying the pressures brought on by overfishing. As the ocean temperatures are cycling higher now there is some evidence that the sardines are starting to return. Today the Monterey Bay Aquarium, displaying many types of marine life, is located on the former site of a sardine cannery on Cannery Row off the Pacific Ocean shoreline in Monterey, California. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a U.S. Federally protected marine area offshore of California's central coast around Monterey Bay.

See: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary link to get a list and links to other protected marine preserves in California.

The major types of sport and commercial fish and shellfish now found in California waters are: Abalone, Albacore Tuna, Anchovy, Barracuda, Surfperch, Billfishes, Bluefin Tuna, Bonito, Cabezone, California Halibut, Carp, Catfish, Clams, California Corbina, Crabs, Crappie, Croaker, Dungeness Crab, Eels, Flounder, Flying fish, Giant sea bass, Greenling, Groundfish (includes Rockfish species), Grouper, Grunion, Halibut, Hardhead, Herring, Hake, Jack mackerel, Kelp Bass, Largemouth Bass, Lingcod, Mackerel, Oysters, Pacific Shrimp, Perch, Pikeminnow (Squawfish), Prawn, Rock Crab, Sablefish, Sacramento Blackfish, Salmon, Sardine, Scallops, Scorpionfish, Sharks, Sheephead, Skate, Shortspine thornyhead, Skipjack tuna, Smallmouth Bass, Smelts, Sole, Spider or Sheep Crab, Splittail, Spiny Lobster, Squid, Steelhead, Striped Bass, Sturgeon, Surfperch, Swordfish, Turbot, Trout, Whitefish, Whiting (fish), Yellowtail (fish)[69][70]

See: NOAA Long list of California fish for more specific names:[71]

Nearly all fishing is subject to quotas, allowed seasons, licensing, allowed tackle, type and number of lines or net types, excluded (closed) areas, allowed size range, allowed catch size, and other restrictions. The jurisdictions and roles of several state and federal agencies often overlap in the maritime domain giving rise to an alphabet soup of agencies and jurisdictions. Each state normally maintains joint jurisdiction over the first 3.4 miles (5.5 km) (3 nautical mile) of their coastal waters. The main agency charged with ensuring deep sea fishing regulations and restrictions in the United States Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) of 227 miles (365 km) (200 nautical miles) off its shores are enforced on the high seas by the United States Coast Guard.

One of the NOAA OLE's few patrol craft

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agency within the United States Department of Commerce is charged with protecting and preserving the nation's living marine resources through scientific research, fisheries management, enforcement and habitat conservation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement tries to enforce the about 35 laws and regulations and regulations passed by Congress. NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) is responsible for carrying out more than 35 federal statutes and regulations. The agency's jurisdiction spans more than 11,500,000 square kilometres (4,400,000 sq mi)s ocean in the U.S.'s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) spread over more than 85,000 miles (137,000 km) of U.S. coastline and the country's 13 National Marine Sanctuaries and its Marine National Monuments. It and the United States Coast Guard are also responsible for enforcing U.S. treaties and international law governing the high seas and international trade. With such a large coverage area, it's no wonder that NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement operates joint enforcement agreements with 27 coastal states and partners with other agencies to help get the job done. Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants original jurisdiction to U.S. federal courts over admiralty and maritime matters, however that jurisdiction is not exclusive and most maritime cases can be heard in either state or federal courts under the "saving to suitors" clause.[72] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement and NOAA Fisheries works within the laws as enacted in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Endangered Species Act. NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement now has 146 special agents and 17 enforcement officers working out of six divisional offices and 52 field offices throughout the United States and U.S. territories. Many have criticized this meager manpower as grossly inadequate.[73]

Overfishing is one of the main problems with many marine fisheries with about 30% of all marine fisheries thought to be over fished. Inadequate data is one of the main restrictions to finding and instituting reasonable and sustainable limits on many fishing stocks. To control overfishing NOAA has instituted the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to set quotas, specify open and closed fisheries and seasons and other limits on what, when and how fish are caught within federal guidelines. With the help of the six regional science centers, eight regional fisheries management councils,[74] the coastal states and territories, and three interstate fisheries management commissions,[75] These councils have had varying amounts of success,[76] but seem to at least have started the rehabilitation of some fisheries. United States Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish Passage Program tries to remove barriers blocking the natural migration of fish to historic habitat used for reproduction and growth.[77]

Since fisheries are the mainstay of some communities as well as being a $38 billion dollar industry there are many conflicting pressures on controlling fishing. More data gathered by more people on: bycatch (caught but unusable fish), fish life cycles, fish habitats at different parts of their life cycle, destructive fish harvesting methods, least damaging ways to harvest fish, etc. are needed to make reasonable choices and set quotas, seasons, etc. necessary to preserve our fisheries. All of this should be set with a maximum of scientific and a minimum of political input. With today's increasingly efficient fishing techniques and fleets, necessary restrictions are the only thing that will assure a continuing source of fishing related jobs and fish products for our descendants—being responsible stewards of our natural resources is often a difficult job but one we can learn and implement.

California Naval Bases

Mare Island

Aerial photo of the southern part of Mare Island

Mare Island, near the city of Vallejo, California, was first Naval Base in California. The Napa River forms its eastern side as it enters the Carquinez Strait juncture with the east side of San Pablo Bay. In 1850, Commodore John Drake Sloat, in charge of a commission to find a California naval base, recommended the island across the Napa River from the settlement of Vallejo; it being "free from ocean gales and from floods and freshets."

On November 6, 1850, two months after California was admitted to statehood, President Millard Fillmore reserved Mare Island for government use. The U.S. Navy Department acted favorably on Commodore Sloat's recommendations and Mare Island was purchased in July, 1852, for the sum of $83,410 for the use as a naval shipyard. Two years later, on September 16, 1854, Mare Island became the first permanent U.S. naval installation on the west coast, with Commodore David G. Farragut, as Mare Island's first base commander. For more than a century, Mare Island served as the United States Navy's Mare Island Naval Shipyard. A 508-foot (155 m) drydock was built by the Public Works Department on an excellent rock foundation of cut granite blocks. The work took nineteen years and was completed in 1891. During the Spanish-American War, a concrete drydock on wooden piles, 740 feet (230 m) long, was completed after eleven years of work, in 1910. By 1941, a third drydock had been completed and the drydock number four was under construction. The ammunitions depot and submarine repair base were modern, fireproof buildings. A million dollar, three-way vehicle causeway to Vallejo was completed.

Before World War II, Mare Island had been in a continual state of upbuilding. By 1941, new projects included improvements to the central power plant, a new pattern storage building, a large foundry, machine shop, magazine building, paint shop, new administration building, and a huge storehouse. The yard was expected to be able to repair and paint six to eight large naval vessels at a time. Several finger piers had recently[when?] been built, as well as a new shipbuilding wharf, adding one 500-foot (150 m) and a 750-foot (230 m) berth. It employed 5593 workers at the beginning of 1939, and rapidly increased to 18,500 busily engaged by May 1941, with a monthly payroll of $3,500,000(1941). Then came Pearl Harbor. In 1941, the drafting department had expanded to three buildings accommodating over 400 Naval architects, engineers and draftsmen. The hospital carried 584 bed patients. Mare Island became one of the U.S. Navy's ship building sites in World War II specializing in building diesel engine powered submarines—they eventually built 32 of them. After the war was over Mare Island became a premier site for building Nuclear powered submarines—building 27 of them.

In 1969, the US Navy transferred its (Vietnam War) Brown Water Navy Riverine Training Forces from Coronado, California, to Mare Island. Swift Boats (Patrol Craft Fast-PCF), and PBRs (Patrol Boat River), among other types of riverine craft, conducted boat operations throughout the currently named Napa-Sonoma Marshes State Wildlife Area, which are located on the north and west portions of Mare Island. Mare Island Naval Base was deactivated during the 1995 cycle of US base closures, but the US Navy Reserves still have access to the water portions of the State Wildlife Area for any riverine warfare training being conducted from their new base in Sacramento, California.

In 1996 Mare Island Naval Shipyard was closed.

Naval Base San Diego

Aerial view of Naval Base San Diego


Naval Base San Diego was started on land acquired in 1920. San Diego has become the home port of the largest naval fleet in the world, and includes two supercarriers, as well as Marine Corps stations, U.S. Navy ports, and US Coast Guard installations. Naval Base San Diego is the largest base of the United States Navy on the west coast of the United States, in San Diego, California. Naval Base San Diego is the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, consisting of 54 ships and over 120 tenant commands. The base is composed of 13 piers stretched over 977 acres (3.95 km2) of land and 326 acres (1.32 km2) of water. The total on base population is 20,000 military personnel and 6,000 civilians.

California Shipbuilding

Mare Island Naval Shipyard

Tang off Mare Island in 1943.
UGM-27 Polaris ballistic missile submarine USS Mariano G. Vallejo

‘’’Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINS)’’’ in Vallejo, California was the premier naval construction site for Navy ships on the West Coast of the United States from about 1855 to 1993. Before World War II, Mare Island had been in a continual state of upbuilding. By 1941, the yard was expected to be able to repair and paint six to eight large naval vessels at a time. It employed 5593 workers at the beginning of 1939 which rapidly increased to 18,500 by May 1941, with a monthly payroll of $3,500,000(1941). Then came Pearl Harbor. During World War II Mare Island specialized in building up the US, Navy's submarine forces in the Pacific as well as building other Naval ships.

When Congress ordered Mare Island closed down in 1993, the shipyard employed 5,800 workers.[78]

Mare Island Naval Shipyard constructed at least eighty-nine sea-going vessels for the United States Navy—including two for the Revenue Cutter Service. Among the more important ships & boats built were: Mare Island Construction

See: ‘’’Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINS)’’’ for specific ships.

National Steel and Shipbuilding Company

Hospital ship Mercy leaving San Diego in May 2008.

National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, commonly referred to as NASSCO, is a shipyard in San Diego, California, and a division of General Dynamics. It is located next to the San Diego Naval base. What became NASSCO was founded as a small machine shop called California Iron Works (CIW) in 1905. The machine shop and foundry were renamed National Iron Works (NIW) in 1922 and moved to the San Diego waterfront to build ships in 1944-1945. In 1949 NIW was renamed National Steel and Shipbuilding Corporation (NASSCO). The shipyard specializes in maintaining and constructing commercial cargo ships and auxiliary vessels such as minesweepers and LSTs, hospital ships, patrol craft, and cargo vessels for the US Navy and the Military Sealift Command. It is the largest new construction shipyard on the West Coast of the United States employing more than 4,600 people and is now the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States.

See: Ships Built in San Diego, California[79] for write ups on 70 ships built there.

California Shipbuilding Corporation

Victory ship SS Red Oak Victory (AK-235), now a museum ship


California Shipbuilding Corporation (often called Calship) built 467 Liberty and Victory ships during World War II, including Haskell-class attack transports. The Calship shipyard was created at Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California, USA as part of the World War II shipbuilding effort. It was initially 8 ways, and increased to 14. After the war, it was liquidated. The ships they built were:

  • 306 EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship cargo transport
  • 30 Z-ET1-S-C3 Liberty ship tanker *
  • 32 VC2-S-AP3 Victory ship cargo transport, 8,500 hp
  • 30 VC2-S-AP5 Haskell class USN attack transport
  • 69 VC2-S-AP2 Victory ship cargo transport, 6,000 hp

Kaiser Richmond shipyards

SS John W. Brown is one of only two surviving operational Liberty ships.

Kaiser Ricmond Shipyards, Richmond, California (a Kaiser facility) had four Richmond Shipyards, located in the city of Richmond, California United States, were run by Permanente Metals and part of the Kaiser Shipyards. They were responsible for constructing more Liberty ships during World War II, 747, than any other shipyard in the United States. Henry J. Kaiser’s company had been building cargo ships for the U.S. Maritime Commission in the late 1930s. When orders for ships from the British government, already at war with Nazi Germany, allowed for growth, Kaiser established his first Richmond shipyard, beginning in December, 1940. They specialized in mass producing Liberty ships fast and efficiently and that's all they built:

These ships were completed in two-thirds the amount of time and at a quarter of the cost of the average of all other shipyards. The Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary was assembled in less than five days as a part of a special competition among shipyards; but by 1944 it was only taking the astonishingly brief time of a little over two weeks to assemble a Liberty ship by standard methods. They pre-assembled major parts of the ship including the hull sections at various locations in the shipyard and then, when needed, moved them with heavy lift cranes to the shipyard launching site where they welded the pre-built sections together. After the ships were launched they were finished to their final configuration while afloat and the launch way was available to start building another ship.

In 1945, the shipyards were shut down as fast as they had started up four years earlier. Much of the shoreline previously occupied by the shipyards is now owned by Richmond, California and has been cleaned up and redeveloped under federally-assisted "brownfields" programs. The ‘’Rosie the Riveter’’/Home Front World War II National Historical Park was established on the shipyard site to commemorate and interpret the role of the WW II home front in winning World War II.

  • Richmond Shipyards Images[80]
  • Kaiser Shipyards[81]

California Ports

California Ports

City Port Name Latitude., Longitude Size Main Use Ref
Antioch, CA San Joaquin Harbor 38.018446,-121.753331 S Ship Repairs [82]
Avalon, CA Avalon Harbor 37.91319,-122.350316 S Tourists [83]
Avon, CA Port of Avon 38.049088,-122.090721 S Tankers [84]
Benicia, CA Port of Benicia 38.045168,-122.156296 M Automobiles [85]
Bodega Bay, CA Porto Bodega Marina 38.334124,-123.051295 VS Tourists [86]
Crescent City, CA Crescent City Harbor 41.748119,-124.184496 S Fishing, Tourists [87]
Crockett, CA Port of Crockett 38.057705,-122.217686 S Sugar [88]
Dana Point, CA Dana Point Harbor 33.459963,-117.699344 S Fishing, Tourists [89]
El Segundo, CA El Segundo Oil Terminal 33.907109,-118.429184 VS Oil Tankers [90]
Eureka, CA Humboldt Bay Harbor 40.738805,-124.217134 M Lumber, Logs [91]
Fort Bragg, CA Noyo Harbor 39.42474,-123.800758 S Fishing, Tourists [92]
Half Moon Bay, CA Pillar Point Harbor 37.50147,-122.482646 S Fishing, Tourists [93]
Long Beach, CA Port of Long Beach 33.732834,-118.254175 VL Containers, Recreational [94]
Los Angeles, CA Port of Los Angeles 33.743558,-118.201454 VL Containers, Recreational [95]
Martinez, CA Shell Oil Terminal Martinez 38.032476,-122.130461 S Oil Tankers, Recreation [96]
Monterey, CA Monterey Harbor 36.605555,-121.892243 S Fishing, Tourists [97]
Morro Bay, CA Morro Bay Harbor 35.370181,-120.858021 S Fishing, Tourists [98]
Moss Landing, CA Moss Landing 36.80243,-121.785132 S Fishing, Tourists [99]
Oakland, CA Port of Oakland 37.793474,-122.299161 VL Containers, Recreational [100]
Oceanside, CA Oceanside Harbor 33.211161,-117.395557 S Fishing, Tourists [101]
Pittsburg, CA Port of Pittsburg 38.035222,-121.882496 S Fishing, Tourists [102]
Port Hueneme, CA Port Hueneme 34.149992,-119.207819 M Fruit Imports, Automobiles [103]
San Luis Obispo, CA Port San Luis Harbor 35.169371, -120.745593 S Tourists [104]
Redondo Beach, CA Redondo Beach Harbor 33.848142,-118.397266 S Tourists [105]
Redwood City, CA Port of Redwood City 37.507819, -122.213974 M Metal Scrap, Cement, Oil [106]
Richmond, CA Port of Richmond (California) 37.914206, -122.364006 M Liquid bulk, Automobiles [107]
San Diego, CA Port of San Diego 32.715197,-117.223992 L Cruise ships, Lumber, Auto. [108]
San Diego, CA San Diego Navy Base 32.676228, -117.126017 L Navy, USCG [109]
San Francisco, CA Port of San Francisco 37.780721,-122.386365 L Cruise ships, General Cargo [110]
Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Harbor 34.405901, -119.691002 S Tourists, Sterns Wharf [111]
Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz Harbor 36.966532,-122.002573 S Fishing, tourists [112]
Stockton, CA Port of Stockton 37.952032, -121.323395 M Rice, Cement, Bulk cargo [113]
Two Harbors, CA Two Harbors 33.444011, -118.496851 S Resort [114]
West Sacramento, CA Port of West Sacramento 38.564341, -121.549602 S Rice, Bulk Cargo [115]
VS= very small, S=small, M=medium, L=large, VL=very large
Aerial views, map views, etc., of each port may be obtained from Google Maps, Bing Maps, Google Earth, etc. by copying and pasting the given Latitude and Longitude coordinates into the map address box and pressing enter. Some ports are medium to large and/or spread out and may require navigation and/or scale changes (+ -) to see more of the port.
Nearly all ports (except oil terminals) have a small to large number of private boats used for recreation, etc.

California Shipwrecks

The Farallon Islands, Channel Islands of California and the rocky mainland coast have historically provided hazardous navigational obstacles to shipping. Intermittent fogs and dangerous winds and storms often led ships to rocks, dangerous beaches and islands to be pounded by the Pacific Ocean's Swell and storms. Fierce currents have always swept in and out of the entrance to the Golden Gate as the tide shifts direction. More than 140 shipwrecks have been reported in the waters of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

One of the first recorded shipwrecks in California is that of the San Augustin, a richly laden Spanish Manila galleon, which was driven ashore in a gale in 1595 in Drake’s Bay, northwest of San Francisco.

The Honda Point Disaster was the largest peacetime loss of U.S. Navy ships. Honda Point, also called Point Pedernales, is located on the seacoast of what is now Vandenberg Air Force Base, California off Point Arguello on the coast in Santa Barbara County, California. On the evening of September 8, 1923, fourteen ships of Destroyer Squadron 11 were traveling at 20 knots (37 km/h) in formation while navigating by dead reckoning to find the entrance to the sometimes treacherous Santa Barbara Channel. The squadron was led by Commodore Edward H. Watson, on the flagship destroyer USS Delphy. All were Clemson-class destroyers, less than five years old. At 21:00 hours the ships turned east to course 095, supposedly heading into the entrance of Santa Barbara Channel. Seven destroyers ran aground at Honda Point, a few miles from the northern side of the Santa Barbara Channel. Two more destroyers sustained some damage. Twenty three men died.[116]

The state of California keeps a Shipwrecks Database of all known California shipwrecks (1540 ea.) and their best known latitude and longitude coordinates, ship type, owner, Captain, etc.--when known.[117] The definition of a shipwreck included in the database is rather broad including wrecks by running aground on a shore, rocks or reefs, ship explosions, foundering (filling with water and sinking), hitting snags (sunken trees), on board fires, parted lines, etc.--essentially anything that causes damage to the ship. Many of these ships were repaired and remained in service after their accidents. These ships, their cargoes, and the mooring systems which restrained them are the physical remains of the maritime history of California.

California Shipwreck Write Ups
Ship Ship Ship
USS Abercrombie (DE-343) USS Agerholm (DD-826) USS Anthony (DD-172)
USS Anthony (DD-172) USS Archer-Fish (SS-311) USS Aspro (SS-309)
USS Aspro (SS-309) USS Atlanta (CL-104) SS Avalon (1891)
USS Barbel (SS-580) USS Benevolence (AH-13) USS Blackfin (SS-322)
USS Boston (1884) Brother Jonathan (steamer) USS Bunting (AMc-7)
USS Burrfish (SS-312) Carrier Pigeon (ship) Centerville Beach Cross
USS Champlin (DD-104) USS Charles J. Kimmel (DE-584) USS Charles J. Kimmel (DE-584)
USS Charles J. Kimmel (DE-584) USS Chauncey (DD-296) SS City of Rio de Janeiro
USS Colahan (DD-658) SS Columbia (1880) USS Conyngham (DD-371)
SS Cuba (1920) USS DeLong (DD-129) USS Delphy (DD-261)
USS Deperm (ADG-10) USS Devilfish (SS-292) Diosa del Mar -
SS Dominator USS Duncan (DD-874) SS Emidio
SS Escambia USS F-1 (SS-20) USS Falgout (DE-324)
USS Fuller (DD-297) USS George K. MacKenzie (DD-836) USS Harveson (DE-316)
USS Herreshoff No. 321 (SP-2235) USS Hogan (DD-178) Honda Point Disaster
USS Hornbill (AMc-13) James Rolph (ship) Johanna Smith (ship)
USS John R. Craig (DD-885) King Philip shipwreck USS Knight (DD-633)
Labouchere (paddle steamer) USS Lewis (DE-535) USS Magnet (YDG-9)
USS Marcus (DD-321) USS McCulloch (1897) USS Milwaukee (C-21)
Montebello (oil tanker) USS Moray (SS-300) USS Naifeh (DE-352)
USS Nicholas (DD-311) SS Northerner SS Ohioan (1914)
SS Palo Alto USS Pensacola (1859) USS Radford (DD-120)
USS Richard S. Bull (DE-402) USS Richey (DE-385) USS S-37 (SS-142)
USS S. P. Lee (DD-310) USS Sabalo (SS-302) USS Savage (DE-386)
USS Sea Devil (SS-400) Sibyl Marston (ship) USS Skate (SS-305)
USS Skipjack (SS-184) USS Sloat (DD-316) SS Monte Carlo
USS Stewart (DD-224) USS Stribling (DD-96) USS Thompson (DD-305)
USS Tingey (DD-539) USS Traw (DE-350) USS Ulvert M. Moore (DE-442)
USS Williams (DE-372) SS Winfield Scott USS Woodbury (DD-309)
Wreck Alley USS Young (DD-312) HMCS Yukon (DDE 263)
Zenobia (1837 ship)
USS Chauncey (DD-296)1 USS Delphy (DD-261)1 USS Farragut (DD-300) 1
USS Fuller (DD-297) 1 USS Nicholas (DD-311)1 USS S. P. Lee (DD-310) 1
USS Somers (DD-301)1 USS Woodbury (DD-309)1 USS Young (DD-312)1
Note 1: Honda Point Disaster

California Lighthouses

California Lighthouses from Oregon to Mexico
Lighthouse Year Built Lat. Long. Ref.

St. George Reef Light 1883 41.83699 -124.37527 [118]
Battery Point Light1 1856 41.74416 -124.2031 [119]
Trinidad Head Light 1871 41.05205 -124.15147 [120]
Trinidad Memorial Light NA 41.05834 -124.14314 [121]
Table Bluff Light 1894 40.8082 -124.16548 [122]
Humboldt Harbor Light 1856 40.7691 -124.221 [123]
Cape Mendocino Light 1868 40.02236 -124.06946 [124]
Punta Gorda Light 1912 40.24941 -124.35021 [125]
Point Cabrillo Light 1909 39.34868 -123.82618 [126]
Point Arena Light 1870 38.9546 -123.7406 [127]
Point Reyes Light 1871 37.9955 -123.02325 [128]
Farallon Island Light 1855 37.69915 -123.00179 [129]
Point Bonita Light 1855 37.8155 -122.5297 [130]
Mile Rocks Light 1906 37.79282 -122.510375 [131]
Point Diablo Light 1923 37.8201 -122.4995 [132]
Fort Point Light 1855 37.8108 -122.47732 [133]
Lime Point Light 1883 37.82545 -122.47859 [134]
Point Knox Light 1887 37.85615 -122.44242 [135]
East Brother Light 1874 37.96325 -122.43343 [136]
Alcatraz Island Light 1854 37.8262 -122.4222 [137]
Point Blunt Light 1961 37.8532 -122.41913 [138]
Yerba Buena Light 1873 37.8073 -122.3623 [139]
Relief Lightship Light 1950 37.79569 -122.28065 [140]
Oakland Harbor Light 1890 37.78132 -122.24382 [141]
Carquinez Strait Light 1873 38.06781 -122.21372 [142]
Southampton Shoal Light 1905 38.03596 -121.49411 [143]
Point Montara Light 1874 37.53652 -122.51933 [144]
Pigeon Point Light 1871 37.18171 -122.39411 [145]
Año Nuevo Light 1872 37.1084 -122.33676 [146]
Santa Cruz Light 1870 36.95146 -122.02671 [147]
Santa Cruz Breakwater Light 1964 36.96067 -122.0022 [148]
Point Pinos Lighthouse 1855 36.6334 -121.9337 [149]
Point Sur Lighthouse 1887 36.30632 -121.90149 [150]
Piedras Blancas Light 1875 35.66563 -121.2844 [151]
San Luis Obispo Light 1890 35.1604 -120.76105 [152]
Point Arguello Light 1901 34.57712 -120.64731 [153]
Point Conception Light 1856 34.44872 -120.47072 [154]
Santa Barbara Light 1856 34.39626 -119.72291 [155]
Point Hueneme Light 1874 34.1452 -119.2100 [156]
Anacapa Island Light 1930 34.0159 -119.35946 [157]
Point Vicente Light 1925 33.74193 -118.41076 [158]
Point Fermin Light 1874 33.70544 -118.2936 [159]
Long Beach Light 1949 33.72322 -118.1868 [160]
Los Angeles Harbor Light 1913 33.7086 -118.2515 [161]
Point Loma Light (old) 1855 32.6720 -117.24097 [162]
Point Loma Light (new) 1891 32.66503 -117.24266 [163]
1)Crescent City, California. To see Light location
on a map open Google or Bing etc. Maps.
Copy and paste Light latitude and longitude
in search window, click on Search Maps—Voila.

A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to contain a flashing light to warn of hazards or to aid navigation primarily at night. The lights now flash on and off in a predetermined sequence to identify which light they are. Lighthouses are used as an aid to nighttime or fog bound navigation for ship pilots and Captains at sea or on inland waterways. They warn of dangerous coastlines, points of land, hazardous shoals, rocks and reefs, or mark ship channels or harbor entrances. Under clear weather a light can be seen at night about 16 miles (26 km). Now in areas of fog the lights are typically combined with a foghorn. Before foghorns were developed cannons and/or large bells (rung by clockworks) were used to warn of fog shrouded hazards. The flashing lights are usually mounted on towers or other prominent structures built on points of land, rocks or shoals near the sea. Some are built on pilings, Caissons or mounted on isolated rocks. Some light houses are mounted on anchored Lightships when no other economical alternative exists.

In the 1850s the light was emitted from a system of oil or kerosene lamps. The light was concentrated and focused with a system of Fresnel lenses. In the 1850s the light was provided from a burning Wick in a whale oil lamp. Later, as kerosene became available, the light was provided by burning kerosene. They typically used a Argand lamp which featured a hollow wick in a glass chimney for better, brighter, combustion with a silvered parabolic reflector behind the lamp to direct and intensify the light output. All oil fired lamps used burning wicks to make the light—giving rise to one of the lighthouse keeper's nickname as "wickies" as they spent a great deal of their time trimming the wicks on their lamps in order to keep them burning brightly with minimum sooting. In the 1850s their lights were rotated using clockworks, usually powered by falling weights attached to chains. Many lighthouses had vertical shafts in them so the weights could drop the height of the tower. This provided a longer time period before the weights would have to be pulled up again by the lighthouse keepers to power the rotation mechanism. Some had to be rewound as often as every two hours.

To keep the clockworks wound, refuel the oil needed to keep the light going and keep the lighthouse equipment and windows clean and maintained the lighthouses were typically manned with a lighthouse keepers of from one to five men or women. Only the fortunate few lighthouses were located where the crews could live in comfort and/or socialize with others. Because these assignments were often in lonely fog bound locations the crews often rotated on and off duty every few months. Families sometimes were paid to run a lighthouse that way the husband, wife and children could keep together.

Starting in the early 1890s the lights were provided by burning acetylene gas generated in situ from calcium carbide reacting with water. The acetylene-gas illumination system could reliably be turned on and off automatically enabling automated unattended lighthouses to be used. Once electricity became available, often provided by one or more diesel electric generators in remote locations, the light source was gradually converted to electrical power and the clockworks were run by some type of electric motor. For example of modern changes, the Chatham Light in Chatham, Massachusetts (near the "elbow" of Cape Cod) the light was converted in 1969 from its Fresnel lens light assembly to a Carlisle & Finch DCB-224 rotating light generating over 2.8 million candela. This is visible for over 20 nautical miles on a clear night and has a self changing bulb assembly to replace burned out bulbs.

Once widely used, the number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and their replacement by modern electronic navigational aids. Nearly all lighthouses today, that are still being used, are automated to the extent possible with power often provided via solar cells and large batteries in inaccessible areas. Today's lighthouses are all run by the U.S. Coast Guard the successor to United States Lighthouse Service. The list of active light houses, lighted beacons, etc. that provide detailed information on aids to navigation with their locations and characteristic signals is currently maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard in its Light List issued each year.[164] California is presently in Eleventh and Thirteenth Coast Guard district.

While the Spanish were in California their shipping was seldom more than ~2.5 ships/Year and they almost never had any way to predict when ships would show up and communication was so slow and uncertain that there was seldom any need for something like lighthouses. When nighttime signals were thought appropriate large fire might be built on the beach. Essentially there was no nighttime navigation—it was too hazardous. During nighttime ships kept well off shore till daylight or anchored. Things only improved slightly when Mexico controlled California as the shipping increased to about 25 ships/year—still too few to make lighthouses or even signal fires almost ever needed. Ships still kept well off shore till daylight or anchored.

When the California Gold Rush started and the number of ships per year jumped to over 700 ships per year and lighthouse technology had advanced far enough, mainly through the introduction of the Fresnel lens and Argand lamps, lighthouses started to become much more useful and feasible. Several bad ship wrecks showed that there were many hazards to navigation that needed to be marked at night or in fog. Since from 1790 till well after 1850 the U.S. Federal Government was over 85% financed by import tariffs (also called customs duties or Ad-valorem taxes) on imported foreign goods of about 25% there was already a steady flow of money collected from California shipping going to Washington. Since all tariffs were paid by foreign goods shipped into the United States since 1790 by the Revenue Marine (predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard) closely monitored ship traffic. Tariffs collected by the Collector of Customs who was charged with inspecting each ship that came into port and collecting the appropriate tariff tax. The first Collector of Customs in California was Edward H. Harrison appointed by General Kearny in 1848. To get some of this revenue flowing back to California, California congressmen started petitioning for lighthouses and Congress soon agreed. By 1850 the East Coast already had a fairly extensive array of light houses so the same technology, developed over decades of use, was transferred to the West Coast of the United States.

The firm of Francis A. Gibbons and Francis Kelly was awarded the contract to build California’s first seven lighthouses in 1853. The lighthouse on Alcatraz Island was the first built and was in operation in the San Francisco Bay on Alcatraz Island by 1855—completion was delayed because of the shortage of Fresnel lenses. Over time more than 45 lighthouses were eventually built along the California coast.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Despite the efforts of the brave men and women who were stationed at the Point Reyes lighthouse, ships continued to wreck on the nearby coast. The Life Saving Service opened the first of two Life Saving Stations built at Point Reyes in 1889. The second station, at Drakes Beach, closed in 1968. The workers stationed there attempted the rescue of victims of storms and shipwrecks. The incredible danger of their job and the dedication they have to their jobs can be sensed in the U.S. Coast Guard's unofficial motto,

"You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back in."

See also


  1. ^ Making tule huts [1] accessed 12 May2011
  2. ^ Tule mats [2] accessed 12 MAY 2011
  3. ^ Tule saws [3] accessed 12 May 2011
  4. ^ Tule canoe pictures can easily be obtained by using Google Images and typing in Tule canoe and searching. This will bring up multiple pictures of the different types of tule boats and associated locations where they are discussed.
  5. ^ Tule canoe construction [4] accessed 12 May 2011
  6. ^ Tule Boat Project Pictures [5] Accessed 9 May 2011
  7. ^ Shell mounds in the San Francisco Bay 1909 [6] Accessed 9 May 2011
  8. ^ Hand build tule canoe [7] accessed 10 Jul2011
  9. ^ Tomol Canoe construction [8] Accessed 9 May 2011
  10. ^ Chumash and Tongva Tomol (Plank) Canoes [9] Accessed 9 May 2011
  11. ^ The Discovery & Earliest Explorations of Baja California [10] Accessed 11 May 2011
  12. ^ Kelsey, Harry; 1986; "João Rodrigues Cabrillo"; The Huntington Library, San Diego California
  13. ^ Cabrillo's life [11] Accessed 10 May 2011
  14. ^ Bankston, John; "Juan Rodgriquesz Cabrillo"; Mitchell Lane Publishers; 2004; ISBN 1-58415-199-4
  15. ^ Derek Hayes (2001). Historical atlas of the North Pacific Ocean: maps of discovery and scientific exploration, 1500-2000. Douglas & McIntyre. p. 18. ISBN 9781550548655. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  16. ^ Shurtz, William Little; "The Manila Galleon"; E.P. Dutton and Co., New York 1939; p. 193-225
  17. ^ Crespi, Juan, ed. By Brown, Alan; “A description of distant roads: Original journals of the first expedition into California, 1769-1770”; San Diego State University Press; (2001), in Spanish and English; ISBN 978-1879691643
  18. ^ Rivera's explorations
  19. ^ "Visitors: San Francisco Historical Information". City and County of San Francisco. n.d.. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  20. ^ California Longhorns Vs. Texas Longhorns [12] accessed 10 June 2011
  21. ^ Seventy-five Years in San Francisco ship records [13] accessed 11 May 2011
  22. ^ Dana, Richard Henry; "Two Years Before the Mast";May 8, 1836: Project Gutenberg online Etext
  23. ^ a b Dana, Richard; ‘’ Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea’’ Republished by CreateSpace (2010) ISBN 978-1456472825
  24. ^ a b California ships to 1847 [14] Accessed 6 Mar 2011
  25. ^ a b U.S. federal tax rates 1850 [15] accessed 6 Mar 2011
  26. ^ Californios [16] Accessed 25 July 2009
  27. ^ Dana, Richard Henry; "Two Years Before the Mast";May 8, 1836: Project Gutenberg online Etext
  28. ^ Californios [17] Accessed 25 July 2009
  29. ^ Tower, Sheldon Walter; "A History of the American Whale Fishery" p.51; John C. Winston Co., Philadelphia, Pa; 1907, Google eBook [18]
  30. ^ Oldham, Kit (January 13, 2003). "Captain Robert Gray becomes the first non-Indian navigator to enter the Columbia River, which he later names, on May 11, 1792.". The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  31. ^ Roberts, John E. (2005). A Discovery Journal: George Vancouver's First Survey Season - 1792. Trafford Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-4120-7097-3. Retrieved 2008-10-18.  URL is to the Google Book Search version.
  32. ^ "About Captain Robert Gray". Maritime History. Garibaldi Museum. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  33. ^ 'Follow the Expedition' [19] available on-line from the Smithsonian Institution
  34. ^ Bancroft, Hubert H.; "History of California Vol. XXII 1846-1848";p. 201; The History Company Publishers, San Francisco, 1882 (Google eBook)
  35. ^ a b Bancroft, Hubert H.; "History of California Vol. XXII 1846-1848";p. 199; The History Company Publishers, San Francisco, 1882 (Google eBook)
  36. ^ Cleland, Robert Glass; "The History of California"; p. 205; The Macmillan Company New York, 1922; Goggle eBook
  37. ^ op. cit. Cleland, p. 180
  38. ^ Cleland, Robert Glass; "A History of California"; The Macmillan Company 1922; p. 191;(Google eBook)
  39. ^ op. cit. Bancroft; p. 252
  40. ^ Marley, David; "Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to Present" [1998); p. 504
  41. ^ Californios revolt 1845 [20] Accessed 25 July 2009
  42. ^ Starr, Kevin and Richard J. Orsi (eds.) (2000). "Rooted in barbarous soil: people, culture, and community in Gold Rush California}; p.48; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22496-5
  43. ^ California 1850 and 1852 Census [21] Accessed 10 Mar 2011
  44. ^ Early American Sailing Ships [22] accessed 2 Feb 2011
  45. ^ Swann, p. 5.
  46. ^ Smithsonian, p. 618.
  47. ^ Steam Ship SS California [23] Accessed 27 Jan 2011
  48. ^ Steam Ship SS California specifications: [24] accessed 27 Jan 2011
  49. ^ San Francisco Ships [25] Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  50. ^ Delagdo, James P.; "To California by Sea"; p.66; University of South Carolina Press (October 1, 1996); ISBN 978-1570031533
  51. ^ Discovery of shipGeneeral Harrison[26] Accessed 22 Jun 2011
  52. ^ Fisher, Lawrence M. (Feb. 13, 1989). "Thursday's Child Sails In, Sets Mark". New York Times (New York edition): pp. C2. Retrieved 2010-03-03
  53. ^ Delgado, James P.; "To California by Sea: A Maritime History of the California Gold Rush"; p. 59; University of South Carolina Press (October 1, 1996); ISBN 978-1570031533
  54. ^ Delgado, James P.; "To California by Sea: A Maritime History of the California Gold Rush"; p. 66; University of South Carolina Press (October 1, 1996); ISBN 978-1570031533
  55. ^ Delgado, James P.; op. cit.; p.66
  56. ^ Lewis, Oscar; “Sea Routes To The Gold Fields - The Migration By Water To California In 1849-1852”; p. 1; Oakley Press 2007; ISBN-978-1406768961
  57. ^ Delgado, James P.; "The Maritime History of the California Gold Rush";p. 59; University of South Carolina Press, 1990; ISBN 978-1570031533
  58. ^ Delgado, James P.; "To California by Sea"; p.79-81; University of South Carolina Press; 1990; ISBN 0-87249-673-2
  59. ^ California U.S. 1850 Census (corrected population over 120,000)[27] Accessed 8 Aug 2011
  60. ^ California Ships to 1774-1848. Seventy-five Years in San Francisco Appendix N [28] Accessed 2 Apr 2011
  61. ^ Ship Arrivals in the Port of San Francisco [29] Accessed 1 Apr 2011
  62. ^ San Francisco Population 794-2000 [30] Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  63. ^ San Francisco fires 1849-1852 [31] Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  64. ^ Fish toxins [32] Accessed 17 Jun 2011
  65. ^ New species introduced [33] Accessed 15 Jun 2011
  66. ^ California Fish and Game [34] Accessed 20 Jun2011
  67. ^ List of California fish hatcheries [35] Accessed 17 Jun2011
  68. ^ Sardine canneries in California [36] accessed 15 Jun 2011
  69. ^ Major fish species in California waters [37] Accessed 17 Jun 2011
  70. ^ California fishes NOAA [38] Accesssed 17 Jun 2011
  71. ^ NOAA Long list of California fish [39] Accessed 17 Jun2011
  72. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 1333
  73. ^ NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement [40] Accessed 29 Jun 2011
  74. ^ NOAA FISHERIES: Councils
  75. ^ NOAA FISHERIES: Commissions
  76. ^ Fishing Councils succcess Rate [41] Accessed 29 Jun 2011
  77. ^ National Fish Passage Program [42] Accessed 28 Jun 2011
  78. ^ title = The History of Base Realignments and Closures | url = commit/c650/downloads/Robles_brachistory.ppt
  79. ^ Ships Built in San Diego California Category:Ships built in San Diego, California Accessed 29 Jun 2011
  80. ^ Richmond Shipyards Images Images and oral history transcripts describing the early days of the Richmond Shipyards Accessed 13 Jun 2011
  81. ^ Kaiser Shipyards Permanente Metals Corporation - Kaiser Richmond CA Shipyards 13 Jun 2011
  82. ^ San Joaquin Harbor [43] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  83. ^ Avalon Harbor [44] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  84. ^ Port of Avon [45] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  85. ^ Port of Benicia [46] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  86. ^ Porto Bodega Marina [47] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  87. ^ Crescent City Harbor [48] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  88. ^ Port of Crockett [49] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  89. ^ Dana Point Harbor [50] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  90. ^ El Segundo Off-Shore Oil Terminal [51] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  91. ^ Humboldt Bay Harbor [52] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  92. ^ Noyo Harbor [53] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  93. ^ Pillar Point Harbor [54] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  94. ^ Port of Long Beach[55] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  95. ^ Port of Los Angeles[56] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  96. ^ Shell Oil Terminal Martinez [57] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  97. ^ Monterey Harbor [58] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  98. ^ Morro Bay Harbor [59] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  99. ^ Moss Landing [60] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  100. ^ Port of Oakland[61] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  101. ^ Oceanside Harbor [62] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  102. ^ Port of Pittsburg [63] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  103. ^ Port Hueneme[64] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  104. ^ Port San Luis Harbor [65] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  105. ^ Redondo Beach Harbor [66] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  106. ^ Port of Redwood City[67] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  107. ^ Port of Richmond (California)[68] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  108. ^ Port of San Diego[69] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  109. ^ San Diego Naval Base[70] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  110. ^ Port of San Francisco[71] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  111. ^ Santa Barbara Harbor [72] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  112. ^ Santa Cruz Harbor [73] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  113. ^ Port of Stockton[74] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  114. ^ Two Harbors [75] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  115. ^ Port of West Sacramento [76] Accessed 25 Sep 2011
  116. ^ Overshiner, Elwyn E.; "Course 095 to Eternity: The Saga of Destroyer Squadron Eleven"; Publisher: Overshiner; 1980; ISBN 9780937480007
  117. ^ California shipwreck list accessed 6 Jun 2011. To get a complete list of wrecks search database with a blank name field and copy results (20/page).
  118. ^ St. George Reef [77] Accessed 31 May 2010
  119. ^ Battery Point [78] Accessed 31 May 2010
  120. ^ Trinidad Head [79] Accessed 31 May 2010
  121. ^ Trinidad Memorial [80] Accessed 31 May 2010
  122. ^ Table Bluff [81] Accessed 31 May 2010
  123. ^ Humboldt Harbor [82] Accessed 31 May 2010
  124. ^ Cape Mendocino [83] Accessed 31 May 2010
  125. ^ Punta Gorda [84] Accessed 31 May 2010
  126. ^ Point Cabrillo [85] Accessed 31 May 2010
  127. ^ Point Arena [86] Accessed 31 May 2010
  128. ^ Point Reyes [87] Accessed 31 May 2010
  129. ^ Farallon Island [88] Accessed 31 May 2010
  130. ^ Point Bonita [89] Accessed 31 May 2010
  131. ^ Mile Rocks [90] Accessed 31 May 2010
  132. ^ Point Diablo [91] Accessed 31 May 2010
  133. ^ Fort Point [92] Accessed 31 May 2010
  134. ^ Lime Point [93] Accessed 31 May 2010
  135. ^ Point Knox [94] Accessed 31 May 2010
  136. ^ East Brother [95] Accessed 31 May 2010
  137. ^ Alcatraz Island [96] Accessed 31 May 2010
  138. ^ Point Blunt [97] Accessed 31 May 2010
  139. ^ Yerba Buena [98] Accessed 31 May 2010
  140. ^ Relief Lightship [99] Accessed 31 May 2010
  141. ^ Oakland Harbor [100] Accessed 31 May 2010
  142. ^ Carquinez Strait [101] Accessed 31 May 2010
  143. ^ Southampton Shoa [102] Accessed 31 May 2010
  144. ^ Point Montara [103] Accessed 31 May 2010
  145. ^ Pigeon Point [104] Accessed 31 May 2010
  146. ^ Año Nuevo [105] Accessed 31 May 2010
  147. ^ Santa Cruz [106] Accessed 31 May 2010
  148. ^ Santa Cruz Breakwater [107] Accessed 31 May 2010
  149. ^ Point Pinos [108] Accessed 31 May 2010
  150. ^ Point Sur [109] Accessed 31 May 2010
  151. ^ Piedras Blancas [110] Accessed 31 May 2010
  152. ^ San Luis Obisbo [111] Accessed 31 May 2010
  153. ^ Point Arguello [112] Accessed 31 May 2010
  154. ^ Point Conception [113] Accessed 31 May 2010
  155. ^ Santa Barbara [114] Accessed 31 May 2010
  156. ^ Point Hueneme [115] Accessed 31 May 2010
  157. ^ Anacapa Island [116] Accessed 31 May 2010
  158. ^ Point Vincente [117] Accessed 31 May 2010
  159. ^ Point Fermin [118] Accessed 31 May 2010
  160. ^ Long Beach Harbor [119] Accessed 31 May 2010
  161. ^ Los Angeles Harbor [120] Accessed 31 May 2010
  162. ^ Old Point Loma [121] Accessed 31 May 2010
  163. ^ New Point Loma [122] Accessed 31 May 2010
  164. ^ Light List 2011 [123] accessed 3 June 2011

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • History of California to 1899 — History of California This article is part of a series Timeline …   Wikipedia

  • History of California — The History of California is divided into the following articles.Articles by era* History of California to 1899 * History of California 1900 to presentArticles by topic* Maritime history of California * History of slavery in California *… …   Wikipedia

  • History of California 1900 to present — California history sidebar This article continues the history of California in the years 1900 and later; for events through 1899, see History of California to 1899. Organized laborThe organized labor history of California remained centered in San …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of the United States (1900–1999) — This article is part of the U.S. Maritime History series. Maritime history of Colonial America 1776–1799 1800–1899 1900–1999 2000 The United States m …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of the United States (1800–1899) — This article is part of the U.S. Maritime History series. Maritime history of Colonial America 1776–1799 1800–1899 1900–1999 2000 The maritime his …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of the United Kingdom — The Maritime history of the United Kingdom involves events including shipping, ports, navigation, and seamen, as well as marine sciences, exploration, trade, and maritime themes in the arts from the creation of the kingdom of Great Britain[1] as… …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of Orissa — Terracotta seal depicting ship found in West Bengal, dated between 400 BCE and 100 BCE The Maritime history of Orissa (Oriya: ଓଡ଼ିଶା, IPA: [oˑɽisaˑ]), also known as Odisha or as Kalinga in ancient times, started before 350 BC according… …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of Colonial America — This article is part of the U.S. Maritime History series. Maritime history of Colonial America 1776–1799 1800–1899 1900–1999 2000 The history of ship …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime history of Scotland — The Maritime history of Scotland involves events including shipping, ports, navigation, and seamen, as well as marine sciences, exploration, trade, and maritime themes in the arts of Scotland. Contents 1 Royal Scots Navy 2 Famous ships 2.1 Great… …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime Fur Trade — The North West Coast during the Maritime Fur Trade era, about 1790 to 1840 The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”