|The Puget Sound Navigation Company, or Black Ball Line as it was popularly known, bulked up its Puget Sound fleet from
many of the ferries idled in San Francisco after the Golden Gate Bridge opened. Many of these boats were sisters or near
cousins to one another (the Golden boats, for example) and Captain Peabody snatched nearly all of them up.
A few orphans remained behind, however. For reasons lost to history, Captain Peabody passed on a few boats, or, in one
instance, sold it someone else before the vessel ever left for Puget Sound.
Below are these orphans, most now long forgotten.
Official Number: 204629 Built: 1907 as the Florida by the Maryland Steel Co. Operated by the Monticello Steamship Co.,
Golden Gate Ferries and Southern Pacific-Golden Gate Co. Length: 289 feet. Width: 45 feet. Depth: 16 feet, 1 inch. 2680
tons. Triple Expansion engine, 2600 HP Auto deck clearance: 9'4"
|The former Old Bay Line steamer arrived in California in 1924 after making the trip from Baltimore to Vallejo in just 18 days. Rebuilt, she was put into service with similar, but not
identical steamers Asbury Park (renamed City of Sacramento in 1925) and Napa Valley. She was rebuilt to carry autos, looking very much like the City of Sacramento. She was laid up
in 1937 with the other steamers.
In 1941 she was offered for sale with the Napa Valley, City of Sacramento, Shasta, San Mateo, and Yosemite. Captain Peabody snapped up the Shasta, San Mateo, Napa Valley and
City of Sacramento. The Calistoga was left behind--likely due to her 9' 4" car deck clearance. Peabody already had the Chippewa with a low deck clearance, and with the Calistoga's
steam plant, that made her uneconomical and of limited use. Peabody sold the ferry to the Navy on 26 April, 1941 for $25,500.00. (The City of Sacramento, it should be noted, was
taken over by the USN as well, Captain Peabody not getting his ship until 1943.) She was put into service as the Calistoga on 18 September, 1941, listed as YFB-21.
Contrary to the usually reliable George Harlan, who stated that Calistoga was scrapped in 1941, navy records show she was to be used as a back up ferry, but instead was used as
barracks ship until declared surplus by the USN in August, 1946. (The photo on the right is dated 1943.) She was sold for scrap to Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, CA, 29 July 1947, and
was burnt on Alameda shore for scrap in 1948.
Official Number: 272604 Built: 1956 by the Pacific Coast Engineering Co, Alameda. Operated by the State of California
between Martinez and Benicia until 1962. Length: 169 feet. Width: 52 feet. Depth: 13.5 feet. 537 tons. Diesel engine, 1000
This ferry was built after Captain Peabody sold to Washington State, but I get
questions on this cousin to the former Washington State ferry Kulshan from time to
time, so I'm putting in an entry for her.
Built in 1956, and designed by completely different, (though, perhaps not so
coincidentally, Philip H Thearle, naval architect, was based in San Diego, where,
two years earlier, the very similar-looking Crown City went into service, possibly
serving as inspiration.) the Carquinez worked the Martinez-Benicia route for the
State of California.
The ferry was sold in 1962 when (what else) the new Martinez-Benicia Bridge
opened. The ferry moved to Florida, where she was renamed Blackbeard.
The ferry worked on the St. Johns River in Florida until 2008, when she was retired
and put into a drydock for storage and use as a back up vessel. The ferry service
has since decided to sell the Blackbeard, but there is no indication as to if the ferry
has been sold yet.
| GOLDEN BEAR
Official Number: 226605 Built: 1927 by General Engineering and Drydock Co., Alameda. Operated by Golden Gate Ferries,
Southern Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries. Length: 226.8 feet. Width: 44 feet. Depth: 15.9 feet. 779 tons. Diesel electric, 950
The Golden Bear was one of four identical vessels built in 1927-27 for the Golden Gate Ferries Company. The others were the Golden Age, Golden Poppy and Golden Shore. Along
with the old ferries Golden State, Golden West, Golden Coast, Golden Dawn, Golden Era and Golden Gate, the (surprise!) orange-gold ferries plyed the waters of San Francisco Bay
under their original owner until Golden Gate Ferries merged with Southern Pacific. The ferries kept their names, but the livery was changed to the white and black colors of the Southern
Pacific, becoming the Southern Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries, LTD ferry company.
All the "Golden" boats were idled and put up for sale in 1937. Captain Peabody purchased six of the vessels--Golden West, Golden State, Golden Bear, Golden Shore, Golden Age and
Golden Poppy. Four of the six would make it to Puget Sound.
The Golden Bear and Golden State started up the Coast from San Francisco in November, 1937. The ferries were hit by a storm off the coast of Empire, Oregon. The tow line on the
Golden Bear parted and she was set adrift. Huge waves battered the ferry, and before long, the house started to collapse. The Captain of the tug Active was able to pull alongside the
Golden Bear and take her crew of seven, including Captain Louis Van Bogaret off the wildly pitching vessel. Eventually, they were able to get a tow line secured and pulled the utterly
demolished vessel into Empire, Oregon. The wrecked Golden Bear did make it to Seattle after the storm subsided, moving to the Lake Washington Shipyard for assessment.
Meanwhile, the Golden State survived the trip relatively unscathed.
W.C. Nickum and Sons were brought on board to rebuild the Golden Bear as a single-ender resembling the Chippewa. The new ferry's name was even announced--Chetzemoka.
It turned out that while the ferry's hull was sound, rebuilding it was impractical. She was stripped down to her hull and turned into an unnamed cement barge, her Ingersoll-Rand
engines removed and placed in the Golden State, now renamed Kehloken. The Kehloken's engines, as it turned out, were in poor condition, and swapping the engines saved some
The now unnamed cement barge had further bad luck. While unloading a shipment of cement for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the former Golden Bear capsized and sank. Upon
raising the barge, it was discovered that the hull now had a pronounced bend and was unsuitable for use as a barge. It was towed to Vancouver Island (location not known) and used
as a breakwater for a logging boom.
| GOLDEN WEST
Official Number: 222833 Built: 1923 by James Robertson, Alameda. Operated by Golden Gate Ferries, Southern
Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries. Length: 214 feet. Width: 44 feet. Depth: 15.2 feet. 594 tons. Diesel electric, 1300 HP
The Golden West never made it to Puget Sound.
After purchasing the ferry, Captain Peabody evidently had second thoughts about his purchase of the slightly smaller, older vessel. He sold her on the spot to the San Diego-Coronado
ferry company, who refurbished the vessel and renamed her the North Island. You can read more about her by clicking HERE.
It is interesting to note that the Golden West really isn't *that* much smaller than the other "Golden" ferries-- a mere twelve feet. Perhaps there was more work that need to be done to
this all-wood ferry than the others that made Peabody reconsider taking the vessel to Puget Sound.
| YERBA BUENA
Official Number: 226360 Built: 1927 by Moore Drydock Company, Oakland Operated by Key System Ferries. Length: 256
feet. Width: 68 feet. Depth: 15.7 feet. 2075 tons. Turbo electric, 2600 HP
The history of the unlucky Peralta is documented under the Kalakala portion of the site, where more than one reference is made
to the sister ferry, Yerba Buena. By comparison, the identical sister ferry to the Peralta let a fairly mundane life, transporting
hundreds of people across the bay and, during WWII, thousands of enlisted men while serving briefly under the name Ernie
Pyle. (Her original name was restored in 1946.)
The beautifully appointed vessel--some said she was the finest to ever sail the bay, with plush seats, finely painted murals and
brass and mahogany trim throughout. As a turbo-electric vessel, she was one of the smoothest sailing vessels on the Bay as
Unlike the Peralta, which was roasted in the fire of 1933, the Yerba Buena escaped unscathed. Resplendent (some might argue
eye-watering) in her orange paint with cream and brass trim, the ferry sailed until the bridges put her out of the commuter
business in 1939.
The Yerba Buena's next assignment was to transport workers to the fairgrounds on Treasure Island for the Golden Gate
International Exposition. When the Exposition opened in February, 1939 the Key System vessels including the Yerba Buena
ferries people to and from the Exposition from both sides of Treasure Island from the Key System Pier in Oakland. After the fair
closed in 1940, all the Key System vessels were sold to the Maritime Commission.
After the outbreak of war, the Yerba Buena was transferred to the Army Transportation Corps, operating between Camp
Stoneman and the Army piers on San Francisco Bay. It was during this time she was briefly renamed the Ernie Pyle.
After the war, the Yerba Buena, painted a little more sedately, continued to work for the Army Transport Service as a shuttle
between Fort Mason and Camp Stoneman near Pittsburgh. The service was discontinued after the end of the Korean War in
After several years in layup, the lovely Yerba Buena was scrapped in 1957.
The photo at left shows her steaming past a then very much active Alcatraz Prison. At right, hauling several hundred men, and
the cover of a menu.
Over the years, a misconception has arisen about the Yerba Buena and her sister the Peralta. The two vessels never hauled
cars. They were built as passenger-only vessels and remained so for their entire career--though the Perlata's was extremely
Official Number: 222722 Built: 1923 by Bethlehem Steel Co. Union Yard, San Francisco. Operated by Southern
Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries, Ltd. Length: 216.7 feet. Width: 42 feet. Depth: 17.3 feet. 2075 tons. Triple Expansion Steam
Engine, 1400 HP
|The Yosemite was the last of three identical sisters built for the Six Minute Ferry
Company in 1922-3. The company's name was derived from the time it took to cross
on one of their ferries. Unfortunately, it seemed to apply to the name of the company
itself, which lasted about as long. While the three ferries were still under
construction, the company folded, bought out by Southern Pacific.
Out of work by 1939, the Yosemite and her two sisters were put up for sale. Captain
Peabody purchased the Shasta and San Mateo, but the Yosemite was sold before
Captain Peabody picked up the other two, which was almost an afterthought.
In any event, the Yosemite was sold to a line in South America to fun on the Rio de la
Plata from Colonia, Uruguay to Buenos Aires, a thirty mile voyage. In preparation for
this, the vessel was renamed Argentina, boarded up and made ready for the trip via
the Panama Canal. The trip was uneventful, with good weather and calm seas the
entire way. In fact, it was chronicled in the September 2, 1940 edition of Life
magazine with the title "Ferryboat Makes 10,000 mile trip on High Seas."
The Shasta and San Mateo went on to have long and successful careers, both as
ferries and, in the case of the Shasta as a restaurant.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Yosemite. Her new owners went out
of business after only a few years. The lovely ex-Yosemite, fitted with the same
stained glass clerestory windows and the same mahogany bench seats was
converted into a barge.
The Argentina worked as a barge for a few years, but finally was abandoned and
A very sad ending for all three sisters, which were some of the prettiest steamer
ferries to ever sail.