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S.S. California

California (#5877) (1848-1895), 199-foot passenger steamer built in New York by William Webb at a cost of $200,082. California was launched on May 19, 1848 and had a capacity of 210 passengers—60 salon passengers and 150 in steerage. She was the first of three Pacific Mail steamers to depart for the newly acquired Pacific Coast of the United States. On October 6, 1848, almost empty for lack of business, the California cleared New York. By the time she reached Panama, news of the discovery of gold in California had reached Panama, and the vessel “was greeted by a mob of gold-seekers, mostly Americans, demanding passage north.” February 28, 1849 she was the first steamship to arrive in San Francisco Bay, followed by the Oregon and Panama.

Some three years later, on April 24, 1852 off Santa Cruz Island while enroute from Panama to San Francisco, and crowded with 500 passengers, the California had a complete breakdown of her machinery, thus she entered San Pedro under sail for repairs. The California was soon dwarfed by much larger ships built to carry passengers to the gold fields. In 1856 she was out to use as a spare steamer. California made voyages between San Francisco and Panama in 1860, 1861 and 1866. The vessel was sold to the California, Oregon and Mexico Steamship Company, but returned to ownership of the Pacific Mail Company in 1872. In 1874 she was sold to Goodall, Nelson and Perkins, who operated her in loacal coastwise service from San Francisco until the end of 1875, when her engines were removed and her hull sold to N. Bichard. Rigged as a bark, she was engaged in the coal and lumber trade until she was wrecked near Pacasmaya, Peru in 1895.

In the News~

May 3, 1871 [DAC]: “Consignees. Per California — Man Lee; Steiner;… Santa Cruz Island Co…”

September 14, 1871 [DAC]: “Consignees. Per California — J. P. Newmark; Rittore & Giude; Christy & Wise;… Santa Cruz Island Co…”

August 25, 1874 [SBDP]: “The steamer California arrived here yesterday afternoon from San Francisco. She stopped at More’s Landing in this county on the way down, and took aboard 200 tons of wheat from 400 tons which were awaiting shipment. She brought 10 tons of freight for this place, and after discharging this, she steamed to Hueneme where she will pick up a large amount of grain, and then proceed to Santa Cruz Island, ship 3000 of the 10,000 sheep proposed to be sent to market, and then sail for San Francisco.”

May 18, 1880 [SBDP]: “Death of Captain Trussel. Captain H. G. Trussel, one of the oldest residents of Santa Barbara, died yesterday aged 72. Captain Trussel was an old mariner, having served many years as mate, captain, etc., his last important trust being the command of the steamer California. He has resided in Santa Barbara since 1852…”

June 16, 1883 [SBDP]: “Efforts are now being made to raise the wreck of the schooner, California, which went ashore at Hueneme, and tons of wrecking material are daily expected to arrive. The work goes on under the supervision of Mr. Peterson, a well-known ship-builder, who feels confident of success. She will be refitted and launched at Hueneme.”

June 18, 1883 [SBDP]: “Thomas Peerson, ship builder, has commenced work on the wrecked craft California, off Hueneme, and with a gang of men will thoroughly refit and launch her in a short time.”

November 10, 1883 [SBDP]: “Captain Hannah, of the steamer Newport, reports the successful launching of the schooner California at Hueneme. She was wrecked there last winter, has been rebuilt, and is now owned by T. R. Bard, Salisbury and Ben Madison.”