San Diego

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San Diego (#116143) (1887- ), independent steamship that served Santa Catalina Island out of Long Beach until she was bought by the Meteor Boat Company in 1907.

In 1913-1914, a promotional brochure advertised:

  • “The steamer San Diego is 107 feet long, 105 tons, modern in equipment with piano, state rooms, cabins, etc., under government inspection, provided with enough life boats, life rafts and life preservers to carry all passengers and crew. Plenty of room, safety and comfort. The largest boat and the only boat so equipped running between Long Beach and Catalina.”



In the News~

August 10, 1897 [SCF]: “… the party took 200 pounds of albacore while on a pleasure trip to San Clemente Island on board the yacht San Diego.”


September 18, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “Perhaps the most interesting feature in the history of the Southern California islands is the story of the ‘Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island,’ who was deserted and recovered years later. Her cave and place of residence have never been found. During the coming week an attempt is to be made to find it, but the principal object of the expedition is to survey the big Indian mound on the island. It represents the accumulation of centuries. Commodore Burnham of the yacht, San Diego, is to make the trip, and he will have as his guests C. F. Holder and Sidney Smith of Pasadena, and E. L. Doran of Los Angeles. The yacht will leave Avalon Monday and will be gone a week or so.”


September 25, 1898 [LAST/SCat]:San Diego party returned from San Nicolas Island… Landing in the surf was difficult and dangerous, and the party did not land at Corral Harbor, owing to the heavy sea… The party included C. F. Holder, E. L. Doran, Dr. G. Roscoe Thomas, Ralph Burnam, Sidney Smith and Commodore W. H. Burnham.”

[above a different San Diego]


March 1, 1907 [LAH]: “Island kingdom is threatened. Meteor Boat Company asks dissolution of injunction on the ground that county rights are disregarded. The first guns in what promises to be a gigantic struggle for the possession of the franchise right to the island of Catalina were fired yesterday when attorneys representing the Meteor Boat Company appeared before Judge Monroe in department six of the superior court and asked that the restraining order issued against the boat company be removed and the injunction denied. The Banning brothers, representing the ownership of the entire pleasure resort island, were in court watching their interests. If they lose in their fight against the Meteor Boat Company it will practically destroy the king-like right they have thus far exercised over the island in fixing the rates and franchises for the various companies who rent and lease from them. During the past year the Banning brothers have had more trouble to retain possession of the island than at any other period of its ownership. Early last summer expeditions were organized by people of Los Angeles under the leadership of Capt. F. X. Hollar, owner of the ship San Diego. Three times during the summer Capt. Hollar and his passengers invaded the island, refusing to pay the $2 landing fee the Bannings exact from everyone who lands at the island unless transported by a Banning Boat. On one occasion the defenders of the island turned the fire hose on the invaders at the high-water line, and a fight ensued. A great barbed-wire fence was built along the entire harbor from and that was stormed. On another occasion grappling hooks were thrown into the fence and it was hauled out into the harbor, while the invaders rushed the landing and carried it by storm. And the fight is just as bitter now as it ever has been. The invaders have discontinued their invasions and have gone to law. Occasionally they take visitors over and sail around the island without attempting to land them. Recently the government granted the right to install a great bulkhead in the harbor. It was the preparations by the Bannings to protect their rights and titles to the island before the summer season opened and their visitors could be annoyed. With the installation of the bulkheads came a raise in the licenses. The Meteor Company conducts the glass bottom boat excursions. The Banning Company demanded a greater rate and the company refused to pay and were joined by others, and the fight for the supremacy will be fought out within the next few weeks. An injunction was secured two days ago restraining the Meteor Company from operating its boats unless paying the required sum. Yesterday attorneys representing the company placed their case before Judge Monroe, contending that the Bannings were violating the rights of the people of the country. Judge Monroe took the case under advisement and the next day or two will give forth the important decision as to whether or not the Bannings will be sustained in their increase of the tax rate.”


May 1, 1907 [SFCall]: “The large steam launch San Diego has been sold by X. H. Hollar to the Meteor Boat Company of Avalon. The vessel will be used in cruises around Santa Catalina Island.”


August 6, 1907 [LAT]: “Disabled in mid-channel, and at the mercy of the waves, passengers of the San Diego, an excursion vessel belonging to the Meteor Boat Company of Avalon, had a dangerous and nerve-racking experience Sunday afternoon. The engines refused to work when twelve miles out from San Pedro. The boat, with its load of fifty-five Los Angeles people, tossed in the trough of the sea until nearly dark, when help came from the Catalina side. The Meteor, belonging to the same company, went to the aid of the San Diego, and the passengers were transferred to the smaller vessel, which took them to San Pedro. They arrived at dusk. The small boat was overcrowded. After landing the passengers, the Meteor returned for the disabled craft. Facing the possibility of having to spend the night on the tossing vessel, fear gripped the hearts of many. Though land could be sighted straight ahead, or astern, many miles of blue water intervened. The ocean waves rolled high. When 5 o’clock came, and no relief in sight, anxious eyes were cast toward the small boats. Others read the instructions posted on the vessel with regard to the use of life preservers. Work on the engines had availed nothing. The break was serious and could not be repaired for hours. Some were for taking to the boats and trying to reach shore. But the boats would hold, at best, only a few. Brave men passengers advised that the women be sent in the boats. Their hearts were in their mouths as they spoke. The women refused to trust themselves without the men, and elected to take their chances on board. While all were in a quandary someone shouted that a vessel was approaching from the island, and the Meteor was a welcome sight. Her progress was marked by fifty-five pairs of anxious eyes. At last she was close enough to throw a line to the San Diego. It was dusk. Then began the transfer, dangerous because of the heavy sea. Marshall D. Taylor was seated on the porch of the Metropole in Avalon, and saw the evident distress of the San Diego. He watched, and seeing she did not move, gave the alarm, and help was sent. The San Diego has proved her seaworthiness by several trips around the island this year and behaved well even with her engines broken. Paul Dougherty of Los Angeles was among those who were at Avalon and witnessed the distress of the San Diego. He was present when the San Diego was towed back to Avalon after her failure to cross the channel. He talked with members of the crew who told him of their experience.”


August 30, 1907 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The Meteor Company ‘s passenger boat, the San Diego, which plies between this port and Long Beach, but which for several weeks has been lying disabled off Avalon, on account of a broken crankshaft, today received its new machinery and is being fitted up for its regular daily trips.”


October 28, 1907 [LAT]: “Shipping. Port Los Angeles, San Pedro. Arrived Sunday, October 27. Launch San Diego from Catalina Island. Sailed. Launch San Diego for Catalina Island.”


November 2, 1907 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The San Diego of the Meteor Boat Company’s line probably made her last trip yesterday. At any rate, she will not resume them for an indefinite period. It is believed here that this will eventually result in the discontinuance of the Cleopatra’s operations, as the Cleopatra is the only glass-bottom power boat belonging to the Meteor Company in island waters, and its patronage was largely derived from the San Diego’s passengers. On the whole, the removal of the San Diego is regarded more as a practical defeat for the Meteor Company, and it is believed that it is improbable that the struggle between the Banning Company and the Meteor Company will be resumed.“


November 3, 1907 [LAH]: “William Banning was not inclined yesterday to place much stock in the report that the Meteor Boat Company had withdrawn from competition for passengers between San Pedro and Santa Catalina Island. The San Diego, which formerly made the trips to the island, has left for San Diego, giving rise to the report that the Meteor people were going to abandon the fight. Mr. Banning said he tought the boat had only gone down to be drydocked and scraped and would return to resume the traffic as formerly.“


November 7, 1907 [LAT]: “Santa Catalina Island — S.S. San Diego leaves Los Angeles, 6th and Main streets, 8:45 A.M. operating in connection with large glass-bottom power boats, Empress, Cleopatra and Lady Lou for the Marine Gardens. Important Notice: These boats are large and safe, and regularly licensed by U.S. inspectors. Combination rowboat tickets sold by other lines will not be accepted on these boats. Meteor Boat Company. Ticket office 6th and Main St.”


March 5, 1908 [LAH]: “Long Beach, March 4. — The big boat San Diego, 105 feet long, was hauled upon the ways at Joe Fellows' works at West Long Beach this morning. Repairs and alterations costing $5000 will be made by the Meteor Boat Company and the boat will afterward be operated from the local pier. The San Diego is said to be the largest vessel ever pulled out of the water in the San Pedro harbor.”


April 25, 1908 [SBI]: “The gasoline schooner San Diego, from San Pedro, Captain Knowles, arrived this morning and will be used as an excursion boat. It is the property of the Meteor Boat Company of Catalina Island.”


October 15, 1910 [LAH]: “The steamer San Diego, Captain Knowles, arrived here today for repairs. She has been on the run from San Diego to Ensenada for the last two years, being operated by the Meteor Boat Company.”


July 12, 1912 [SFCall]: “Beginning next week, the schooner San Diego, owned by the Meteor Boat Company, will make weekly trips between Long Beach and San Diego continuing one trip south to Ensenada. The San Diego is a coaster vessel of 100 tons and will operate in conjunction with the North Pacific steamer Santa Clara, ending its southern trip at Long Beach.”


July 31, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego arrived at Long Beach this morning from Ensenada, Mexico, via San Diego with passengers and freight for the Meteor Boat Company and cleared on the return trip.”


August 3, 1912 [SFCall]: “The steamer San Diego arrived this morning at Long Beach with passengers and freight for the Meteor Boat Company and cleared for return.”


August 21, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego arrived at Long Beach today from Ensenada, Mex., via San Diego, with freight for Meteor Boat Company, and cleared for return.”


August 24, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego cleared for Long Beach for Ensenada, Mex., via San Diego, with passengers and freight for Meteor Boat Company.”


September 6, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego arrived this morning from Ensenada, Mexico, via San Diego with freight and passengers for the Meteor Boat Company, and cleared on the return trip tonight.”


September 13, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego, arriving this afternoon from Ensenada, Mexico, via San Diego, with passengers and freight for Meteor Boat Company, will clear on return voyage tomorrow.”


September 14, 1912 [SFCall]: “Steamer San Diego cleared today for Ensenada, Mex., via San Diego, carrying passengers and freight for the Meteor Boat Company.”


August 26, 1913 [LAT]: “Avalon. Negotiations between a representative of the Meteor Boat Company of Los Angeles and the Wilmington Transportation Company, who operate the steamers Hermosa and Cabrillo from San Pedro to Avalon, are pending. The former company proposes, if the deal is closed, to take a five-years’ lease upon the two steamers and to operate them between Long Beach and Avalon. Plans are under consideration by the Banning Company to purchase two large steamers to take place of the Hermosa and Cabrillo. After September 15 Hotel Metropole would close its doors for several months and that the steamer Cabrillo would be taken off its regular run September 13. The Hermosa or Warrior, owned by the Wilmington Transportation Company, will be the only vessel plying between San Pedro and Avalon during the winter months. ‘The Banning Company is tired of the continual trouble about transportation to the island,’ said an official today. ‘At this time I cannot affirm or deny the report that negotiations are pending for a lease upon the two steamers. Probably some changes will have to be made to handle the Long Beach visitors. The arrangements carried out during the past few weeks seem very unsatisfactory to the traveling public. Many passengers who patronize the cheap, badly-equipped gasoline launches, for various reasons only known to themselves, purchase from us tickets for one way and return to the mainland on our steamers. Daily we are in receipt of letters complaining of the unsafe method of crossing the channel by traveling upon a small boat and asking us to operate one of our boats from Long Beach, but what future arrangements will be made has not yet been decided. As to opening up the isthmus for resort purposes, that plan also has many possibilities.’ For years the Meteor Boat Company has tried to enter the field for the transportation business from the mainland to the island. During the past twelve years this company, of which W. D. Hubbard is president, has built up a unique business by operating a fleet of four of the largest glass-bottom powerboats in the world. The company also owns the steamer San Diego plying daily between Long Beach and Avalon, but this vessel’s passenger-carrying capacity is limited to 125 persons, consequently the owners of small gasoline launches find the overflow of the Long Beach transportation a profitable business. The stockholders of the Meteor Boat Company, it is ascertained, control in aggregate several million dollars. E. L. Doran of the company said today: ‘If the Meteor Boat Company leases the Wilmington Transportation Company’s steamers it will be for a five-years’ lease upon the two boats. We should probably operate them from the Long Beach inner harbor.’ That the proposed new steamers of the Banning Company will operate between San Pedro and the Isthmus as well as Avalon, if this port remains open, is almost certain. Already J. C. Waddington has surveyed the entire Isthmus and is now preparing plans for a resort. Many building lots have been staked out on the hillsides overlooking the Isthmus Cove and Bird Island and plans have been discussed for the erection of suitable business structures to face the Catalina Harbor side, behind which will be located a large tent city. Since the water mains have been connected with the pumping plant at Johnson’s Landing the problem of supplying several hundred tents with fresh running water has been solved. From this plant electric wires can be carried for lighting purposes. Several years ago the Banning Company expressed its desire to move to the Isthmus and at that time half a million feet of lumber was brought down from Seattle to be used for the building of the proposed town, but upon the requests of the Avalon property owners the plan was abandoned. The lumber and saw-mill has never been removed.”


September 3, 1913 [LAT]: “The traffic boat war existing between the owners of launches plying between Long Beach and Catalina was transferred today to this city when H. E. Boone, ticket solicitor for the Nellie, was arrested for making unnecessary and unusual noises while selling steamer tickets. Boone was found guilty of violating the city ordinance and was then told by the judge that he could have warrants against any who violated the law. Boone thereupon gave notice that he would ask for a warrant against W. B. Hinkle, agent for the Meteor Boat Company, for occupying city property while soliciting passengers for the steamer San Diego.”


June 2, 1914 [TI/Avalon]: “The gasoline steamer San Diego broke down in mid-channel Thursday, and drifted at the mercy of the waves for sometime. It is reported that she did [not] arrive at Long Beach until after midnight.”


February 12, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “Report comes from Catalina Harbor that the launch San Diego arrived at that port late on Saturday night.”