Princess (#223636) (1924-2002) was a 78-foot glass-bottom side-wheeler passenger vessel built by William Muller of Muller Shipbuilding—Wilmington Transportation Company in 1923 and launched in 1924 in San Pedro. (The others were Empress, Emperor, Phoenix and Blanche W.) Construction cost $70,000. She was equipped with underwater lights for night trips from Avalon Harbor, a huge island attraction for 35 years. Many weddings were performed on her decks, and Eleanor Roosevelt, Hedda Hopper, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Stewart are among her famous passengers. In 1959 Princess was sold on the condition she not be used as a glass-bottom boat. She moved to San Pedro and her hull bottom was re-planked. For the next three decades, converted to a “Mississippi riverboat,” she served as a floating restaurant, offering party-cruise venues by Southland Harbor Cruises, Inc. between San Pedro and Long Beach harbors. In the mid-1990s this career was discontinued, and she sat idle next to the Queen Mary for a number of years. On March 19, 1999 Princess was moved to Lake Elsinore on the San Jacinto River, the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California. Renamed Elsinore Princess, the vessel was owned and operated by a private foundation.
In the News~
May 7, 1924 [TI/AVALON: “Princess launched. The Wilmington Transportation Co's latest addition to their glass-bottom boat fleet, the motorship Princess, was launched Tuesday evening last of last week at the Muller Ship Yards at Wilmington. Miss Marguerite Brown of Los Angeles sponsored the new craft as it slid into the water. In attendance at the ceremonies were Mr. Milton S. Patrick, manager of the Glass Bottom Boat and Excursion Trips, Captain Claude Walton, as well as other officials of the Wilmington Transportation Company. The Princess is faster and more powerful than any of the older glass bottom boats; is similar in design but not quite so large as the Emperor, and will carry 132 passengers. For night submarine garden trips it is equipped with powerful searchlights in the under wells, and in addition is mounted with eight-million candle power light to display flying fish. It is expected that the Princess will be placed in service at Avalon within the next few weeks.”
August 23-September 5, 2002 [LOG]: “Lake Elsinore. The glass-bottomed boat Princess, which spent a half-century carrying tourists off the coast of Avalon and was featured in the 1960s Doris Day movie The Glass Bottom Boat, sank at West Marina in about five feet of water. The Wrigley family built the 100-foot 100-ton steamer in 1921. After its retirement from Avalon’s waters, it was a charter boat in Long Beach for 20 years. Co-owner Pete Dawson, of Pro Marine, re-floated the vessel by the afternoon of August 13. Officials indicate the boat sank sometime on August 12. Although the police have not found proof of foul play, Dawson is suspicious. ‘Somebody tried to sabotage this; somebody wants to hurt us,’ Dawson told a local publication. He did not identify who the saboteurs might be. It could be sabotage because two windows were broken, one fire extinguisher was missing, and another discharged inside the boat, reported a Pro Marine employee. Dawson reportedly filed a police report despite not knowing what caused the boat to sink. A cause cannot be determined until all of the water is removed, he said. Police Department officials could not be reached before press time to confirm if there would be an investigation. Dawson and local residents Frank Jackson and Larry Regis purchased the boat in January 1999 with plans to refurbish it to host dinner cruises and private parties. The men had the boat moved to the lake where the lengthy restoration began. It has taken countless hours of volunteer labor and more than $300,000 to restore the boat so far. About another $100,000 is needed to complete the work and get Princess underway.”