Charles F. Crocker

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Charles F. Crocker (#126702) (1890-1926) was a 220-foot, 762-gross-ton, four-masted wood barkentine built in 1980 in Alameda, California by C. G. White. She carried goods up and down the west coast for most of her career. In 1926 Charles F. Crocker was sold by W. C. Comyn to J. West for use in making movies.

The Crocker eventually found herself at Cat Harbor and a letter received by the National Maritime Museum in 1979 tells of her fate. The letter, written by Capt. Cliff Weidemann, explains that one of the scenes in an unnamed movie being filmed at the Isthmus called for a hurricane. While the close-up shots evidently involved another ship—the W.F. Jewett—film crews put dynamite around the masts of the Crocker. Huge off-camera water tanks provided the “waves” crashing into the Jewett and flashing klieg lights played the role of lightning. At some strategic point during the filming, the dynamite on the Crocker was set off, blowing the masts of the ship overboard. As Capt. Weidemann explained, “Everything went over the side and into the harbor. The water was so clear you could see all that rigging, masts and yards under the surface.” Apparently, the Santa Catalina Island Company wasn’t too happy with this. Capt. Weidemann explained that, “Mr. Wrigley’s caretaker had a fit. ‘You’ve got to get that out of there, you’ve got to get that out of there!’,” he yelled.” The Crocker subsequently sank and for years, her remains lay abandoned in the tidal muds of the bay.

Sometime around 1938 the wrecks of the Charles F. Crocker, Ning-po, and Palmyra were set afire and burned. Remains of Charles F. Crocker then were moved further inland by a tidal bore.

  • 57. William G. Irwin, 1929 (F. L. Coffman 1001 Lost, Buried or Sunken Treasures, 1957)