Pacific Mail Steamers


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Kyrila Scully

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Here's another query related to my novel: Does anyone have access to information about mail steamers between San Francisco and Crescent City circa 1872? Particularly, the Humboldt? Same questions as regarding the Oceanic and Baltic. Drawings of deck plans would be an added bonus. Schedules and fares a godsend!

Thanks, y'all,
Kyrila
 

Bob Godfrey

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In 1882 the Humboldt (Pacific Coast Steamship Co) left Broadway Wharf, San Francisco, for Crescent City every Wednesday at 9am, calling at Eureka, Arcata and Hookton. Fare was $15 Cabin Class, $10 steerage. Accompanied children under 5 travelled free, age 5-12 half fare. Ticket price included berth, food and up to 150lb baggage. Journey time averaged about 2 days, so no more than 2 nights aboard for your heroine to get up to no good.

Hope that helps, but Kyrila, if you're thinking of making the trip yourself the prices have gone up a bit since then. :)
 

Bob Godfrey

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Here's a hot news story of everyday life on the Humboldt, reported in the Ferndale Enterprise, January 6, 1893:

A CRAZY PASSENGER

An exciting incident happened on the last down trip of the Humboldt. John Ward, one of the passengers became insane the first day & was so violent that it took several men to handle him. Chief steward Cheetham was informed that a passenger was acting strangely, & went to see what was the matter. On opening the door to Ward's state room, the crazy man, who was sitting on a stool with a big valise containing a barber's outfit before him, jumped up & opening a big razor made a lunge at the steward, He was knocked down with a club which the steward had taken the precaution to have in his hand when he commenced to make an investigation, The lunatic became tractable after this & was locked in his room, meals being passed through the window. Early Sunday morning Ward took a violent spell & the services of 4 men were necessary to secure him on the arrival of the Humboldt yesterday evening. Hard was removed to the north harbor police station & afterwards sent to the Home of the Inebriates on the charge of insanity. In one of his pockets was a hyperdermic syringe & an empty morphine bottle, showing that he is a "fiend".
 

Kyrila Scully

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A friend of the dragon, as it were! Thanks, Bob. I just have to brag on you, because you've helped me a great deal with this story, more than anyone else on this board will ever know. The encouragement to me, as a writer and a friend, the technical advice and funny suggestions, have really made this second draft fun. So I just have to give you your props. I know, I know, you'd rather have the cash!
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Kyrila
 

Kyrila Scully

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By the way, Bob, how did you get that information in your first post? I actually talked to the wharf historian in San Francisco by phone and couldn't get such details. The best he could come up with was trips to and from New Orleans and Panama!

Kyrila
 

Bob Godfrey

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Wot, no cash? That figures. I didn't get a penny out of J K Rowling either.
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Check your email for the source material.

Bob
 

Jim Kalafus

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Kyrila; If you have not seen it already, Pacific Coastal Liners (Gordon Newell & Joe Williamson-1959) might be of some help to you.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Apparently it sold well, and can be found at finer used book sales everywhere. Mr. Newhall had a large collection of photos, brochures and news clippings pertaining to teh West Coast. I am not sure if he is still alive. You might consider attempting to learn the current whereabouts of his personal archive (hopefully it was donated to some institution or library and not sold) which would save you a lot of legwork.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Kyrila- one invaluable reference for a novel set in California involving ships is Lewis and Dryden's Marine History of the Northwest (1895- E.W. Wright, editor) which was reprinted back in 1961. Neither the original nor the reprint is inexpensive, and I would recommend trying to find it through interlibrary loan- it is worth the effort. Robert C. Belyk's Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast, still in print, is another worth looking into.
 

Kyrila Scully

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I really appreciate the "leg work" Jim. I'll certainly see what I can find out. I used to live in the area where I'm writing about and got to see a lot of things first hand, but it's been around ten years since I've been there and I've had to rely on memory for some of the visual things. Lately, I've come across some films that were ironically filmed in many of those same areas, and that's been a great help. But to have access to actual records and photographs circa the time of the story is a godsend. Although my characters don't spend much time in the ship and train settings, it nevertheless adds color and appeal to the story to have the actual setting in place. Feel free to email me personally if you'd like to know more of what I'm writing about. But I just wanted to give credit where credit is due, because I know people tend to have oversight of others' contributions when they ask questions, and I don't want to be one of those people. So thanks again.

Kyrila
 
Apr 29, 2004
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I recognize that this is an old thread and the time for it may have passed. Nonetheless, I used to live in Crescent City (and in SF, at different times in my life). I had met one of the principals of the salvage efforts on the Brother Jonathan, which foundered off of Point St. George in 1865, years ago.

You'll find a pretty fair amount of historical information relating to shipping on the California coast in a book called, "California Shipwrecks: Footprints in the Sea" by Don B. Marshall. I bought a copy years ago and it will always remain with me; it's very good. It is likely out of print, but it sticks in mind that I have seen it in a store recently- possibly at the bookshop outside the gate at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco.
 
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