The namesake ferry for the city of San Diego had a long and interesting
Built for the San Diego-Coronado Ferry Company in 1931 by the Moore
Drydock Company in Oakland, California, the ferry was essentially a
larger version of her near sister Coronado.
For decades the San Diego performed her work, shuttling cars to and
from the mainland to the island, becoming the subject of countless
postcards and snap shots.
When the bridge put her out of work in 1969, the ferry was purchased
by the Olympic Navigation Company of Port Townsend, Washington for
service between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.
From 1970 until 1973 the San Diego worked the run, but the last
independent auto ferry company was losing money fast. By fall 1973,
unable to keep operating, Olympic Ferries Inc shut down after some
thirty years of service.
The governor of Washington State ordered Washington State Ferries
to take over the route. They acquired the docking facilities, but passed
up the San Diego,placing the Olympic on the run starting in June, 1974.
The San Diego ended up in Vancouver, British Columbia for many
years, hanging around the waterfront, waiting to be rebuilt as a paddle
wheel excursion boat named "Klondike Queen."
In desperate need for ferries after the Hood Canal bridge sank in a
storm in 1979, Washington State Ferries went up to Vancouver to
inspect the old San Diego for possible use on the Canal. By that time
though, having been neglected for years the State determined it would
have been too costly to refurbish the boat.
In 1987 the San Diego made her way back to California and was towed
up the Sacramento River. She was to be converted into a restaurant at
Antioch called "Huckleberries" but somewhere along the line in the she
ended up catching on fire in the late 1990's.
After hanging around Antioch for a number of years, the ferry was towed
up river and moored just off of Decker Island. Abandoned, the ferry fell
into decay and was gutted by fire. By the end of 2011 the state stepped
in. In a continuing effort to clean up the Delta, the San Diego was towed
to Mare Island for asbestos removal. The end came shortly after that.
The end of the San Diego came very swiftly as backhoes tore the old
ferry apart. The hull was towed over to drydock and cut up there,
ending the long saga of the ferry that last saw service nearly four
decades before. Photo courtesy of Frank Cleope Jr.
Diesel-electric powered, propeller drives, steel hull. Official Number: 231278 Built: 1931 by Moore Drydock Co. At Oakland, CA
Length: 191.4 Width: 43.6 Draft: 14.1 Gross Tons-556 3 engines, 350 Horse Power each
The San Diego departing Keystone in 1972.
|Top: the San Diego working in San Diego. Middle: In exile in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Bottom, open for business for a brief time in May, 1989, at Antioch, California.