Vaquero

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Vaquero at anchor.
Vaquero, c. 1930
Vaquero
Vaquero

Vaquero (#211354)(1913-WWII) [Sp., cowboy], 130-foot motor vessel built in 1913 by William Muller for Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island since 1901. She was used to transport cattle, personnel and supplies to the island until World War II when she was taken by the U.S. government for service in the war. In addition, she often served neighboring islands as well. The Lesters moved to San Miguel Island aboard Vaquero, in 1930, and she often hauled wool and sheep to the mainland for Robert Brooks. Her arrival in Cuyler’s Harbor was announced by her loud repeated whistle. [Lester 1974: 5, 24, 32, 81-83]. Vaquero was seen several times in the South Pacific, although her eventual fate remains unknown.

Al Morris worked on Vaquero for twenty years in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1958, Lindwall Boat Works in Santa Barbara was commissioned to build her replacement, Vaquero II, paid for by the federal government.



In the News~

July 27, 1913 [SBMP]: “The Santa Rosa Island Company is just placing in commission at San Pedro, a fine new vessel, christened the Vaquero, which will take the place of the power schooner that has been in service for several years on the channel and in the coastwise trade. This latter vessel, bearing the name Santa Rosa Island, will be sold by Vail & Vickers interests, controlling the island property. Captain Johnson, who has been in command of the Santa Rosa Island schooner, is now on the Vaquero, which has recently been completed at the Banning shipyards. The Santa Rosa Island arrived here yesterday with a new master. She will sail this morning for San Miguel Island with Captain Waters and a party of herdsmen, who will round up several thousand sheep for shipment to this port. Beef cattle being the leading product of Santa Rosa Island, a vessel larger than the old schooner can be used to advantage in transporting them. Notwithstanding all precaution, it was sometimes possible for steers to leap from the deck of the schooner to the sea. The new boat will soon be utilized for shipping several hundred head of cattle from the islands. The Vaquero is 160 feet long, and has 300 horsepower gasoline engines. She will also be used, as has the Santa Rosa schooner, in the cement trade between San Pedro and Santa Barbara, and will be available for other lines of commerce. It is said that she is also well fitted for passenger carrying.”


July 29, 1913 [SBMP]: “The Santa Rosa Island Company’s new powerboat, the Vaquero, is expected in port today from San Pedro with 2000 sacks of cement. It will be her maiden voyage.”


August 9, 1913 [SBMP]: “On her first voyage to Santa Barbara the gasoline schooner Vaquero owned by the Vail & Vickers Company, whose properties include Santa Rosa Island, was in port yesterday with a cargo of cement for local consignees. Last night the Vaquero sailed for Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands, having as passengers two of the Vail brothers who will spend a few days at Santa Rosa. Captain W. G. Waters also sailed with the Vaquero for San Miguel.”


August 24, 1913 [SBMP]: “The Santa Rosa Island Company’s new steamer, Vaquero, will make its first trip across the channel as a cattle transport today. The Vaquero was along side Stearn’s Wharf yesterday, outfitting for the voyage, pens being built on the lower decks. She is expected to carry about 250 head, and several trips will be made during the next few days. The cattle will be landed here, and shipped thence by rail to various points.”


August 26, 1913 [SBMP]: “The steamer Vaquero discharged her first cargo of 165 head of cattle from Santa Rosa Island Sunday night and Monday morning at Stearn’s Wharf. Several shipments will be made during the next few days.”


September 20, 1913 [SBDN]: “The steamer Vaquero, owned by Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island, was due here this morning from San Pedro with 200 sacks of cement for the local trade. The vessel’s non-arrival is taken to indicate she did not get away from San Pedro on schedule.”


September 24, 1913 [SBMP]: “Feed shortage on Santa Rosa Island will necessitate the movement of practically all of the herds of Vail & Vickers Company on that extensive range. The steamer Vaquero has already taken off 2000 or 3000 head of stock, and several more cargoes will be moved at once. The Vaquero left San Pedro Monday for the island to load cattle, which will be taken to Los Angeles, and several other cargoes will be brought to Santa Barbara.”


September 25, 1913 [SBDN]: “The steamer Vaquero came in last night from Santa Rosa Island with 250 cattle for shipment to other ranges, the feed on the island having shown signs of giving out. There are several hundred head yet to ship.”


September 25, 1913 [SBMP]: “The steamer Vaquero arrived yesterday from Santa Rosa Island with 250 cattle.”


May 4, 1914 [LAT/SP]: “Cattle shipments from Santa Rosa Island have also begun, several cargoes having been brought in by the power schooners Santa Rosa Island and Vaquero. Sheep are no longer raised on Santa Rosa Island, all the animals having been shipped a few years ago and cattle substituted.”


May 10, 1914 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Vaquero, Captain Johnson, belonging to Vail & Vickers, arrived here from San Pedro yesterday morning, and later put out for Santa Rosa Island to get a load of fat cattle for the Los Angeles market. The vessel’s capacity is for 260 head of cattle and she will take a full load on this trip. This is Captain Johnson’s first voyage on this schooner, but he has been here often before when in command of the Dollar boats.”


May 27, 1914 [SBDNI]: “The power launch Vaquero, owned by the Santa Rosa Island Company, brought 11,000 feet of lumber from San Pedro yesterday afternoon for the Boyd Lumber Company.”


December 4, 1914 [SBDNI]: “The cattle boat Vaquero, property of the Santa Rosa Island company, put in at Stearn’s Wharf this morning for a short time, en route from the islands to San Pedro.”


May 18, 1915 [SBMP]: “Wreck of the Aggi will soon be dream. Universal must hurry if it wants to photograph the real thing. Henry McRea, D. M. Meaney and Allen Watt of the Universal Motion Picture concern’s company that is working in the photoplays that are to be made with the wreck of the Aggi as a setting, arrived at the Arlington Hotel from Los Angeles last Sunday and went over to the Universal camp on Santa Rosa Island shore yesterday afternoon by the powerboat Panama to get plans organized for active work. Forty members of the company arrived at the island camp last Saturday from San Pedro on the Santa Rosa Island Company’s powerboat, the Vaquero. The Panama will be stationed at the island as long as the company remains there...”


June 1, 1915 [SBMP]: “Vail & Vickers power schooner Vaquero is at Cuyler's Harbor, San Miguel Island, loading wool for Captain Waters.”


June 1, 1915 [SBDNI]: “Taking on a cargo of wool after Captain Waters at Cuyler’s Harbor, San Miguel Island, the Vail and Vickers’ power schooner Vaquero is at the island loading this year’s wool crop from the several thousand sheep there.”


December 23, 1915 [SBMP]: “Vail & Vickers’ power schooner, the Vaquero, came over from Santa Rosa Island yesterday morning with seven of the pile driving crew at work there, and returned to her island port in the evening.”


1916. “The Heston was towed to the fishing grounds by the steamer Vaquero, which craft is well known in local shipping. With the floating cannery a fleet of ten large fishing craft made the run down the coast.” [Western Canner and Packer, Volume 8:(36). San Francisco, California, June, 1916.]


March 1, 1916 [LAT]: “Built within the city limits of Los Angeles out of California lumber, equipped with a California-made Union gas engine, using as fuel California petroleum gas oil, in command of Captain Gust Johnson, Los Angeles resident and property owner, and representing an investment of $60,000 of Los Angeles money, the steamship Vaquero will sail from Los Angeles harbor Monday on its initial trip to Mazatlan. Moreover, on both the stern and bow of this vessel, which is owned by Vail & Vickers, pioneers in the cattle business of the Southwest, will be blazoned Vaquero of Los Angeles. Further, the business for which the boat was originally constructed was that of carrying California - fattened beef from Santa Rosa Island to Los Angeles harbor to feed this city. Speaking of the West Coast business, an attaché of the concern stated yesterday that the inauguration of the service is in response to a demand for better shipping facilities in Mazatlan. ‘However,’ he said, ‘to make the venture a success we must have the cooperation of Los Angeles merchants. This we bespeak, as the Vail & Vickers have boosted and supported every jobber, merchant and wholesaler of this city.”


July 2, 1916 [SBMP]: “Captain W. G. Waters shipped 1500 sheep from his range on San Miguel Island yesterday to Los Angeles by the power schooner Vaquero.”


July 12, 1916 [SBMP]: “Last evening Vail & Vickers power schooner, the Vaquero, came over from San Miguel Island with 90 bags of wool from Captain W. G. Waters’ ranch.”


1917. “The floating tuna cannery John E. Heston has been operating since the 15th of April in Magdalena Bay, Lower California. Clams and turtle soup are being canned as well as tuna. A pack of 800 cases of canned fish a day is being put up. The steamer Vaquero is engaged in supplying the floating cannery from San Diego and every ten days carries the pack from Magdalena Bay to San Diego.” [Western Canner and Packer, Volume 9:(27). San Francisco, California, May, 1917.]


1918. Lower California Tuna Being Canned. The gasoline schooner Vaquero arrived at San Pedro May 24th from Point San Luis off the Mexican coast with several hunderd cases of canned tuna caught and canned in Mexican waters. The fish are usually plentiful off Lower California and are being caught by five launches operated by Japanese fishermen who deliver their catches to the floating cannery John E. Heston, Jr. Tuna are being caught and canned earlier this season than ever before in the history of the industry.” [Western Canner and Packer, Volume 10:(20). San Francisco, California, May, 1918]


1918. Deliveries of Lower California. Canned Tuna Being Made. “Captain Gust Johnson of the steamer Vaquero arrived in San Pedro July 8th. He stated that the floating cannery John G. North, now operated on the coast of Lower California, has had a fairly good season canning tuna, the Vaquero having brought up some 10,000 cases, and that other shipments are being brought up by the steamer North Fork.” [Western Canner and Packer, Volume 10:(20). San Francisco, California, May, 1918.]


May 3, 1918 [OC]: “The Vaquero came in on Sunday to get a crew of men and eucalyptus piles to go over to Santa Rosa Island to put in a wharf for the Santa Rosa Island company. The wharf is to be used to ship sheep and cattle. Those who went over were Charles Perdu in charge of the crew, D. L. Johnson, Emil Barsot, John Carter and Elmer Morrison. A drill is to be used to drill in the rock and then it is to be dynamited so as to put the piles in.”


January 30, 1926 [SDET]: “Arrival of vessels, Friday, January 29. Vaquero motorship (Johnson), Santa Rosa Island, to the San Diego Oil Products Company with 250 head live cattle. Arrived 1 A.M. Berthed at Chula Vista dock.”


[1930]: “Ed Vail, of Vail & Vickers — owners of the Vaquero and our neighbor on Santa Rosa Island, brought us, our supplies, our wedding gifts and my personal belongings and set us on our rocky shore. In the months to come, he was our only dependable link with civilization…” [Elizabeth Sherman Lester The Legendary King of San Miguel Island, 1974.]


October 13, 1937 [SBNP]: “First of 10,000 head of sheep shipped to island. Fifty-one hundred head of sheep, half of a shipment of more than 10,000 head were being taken to the Santa Cruz Island ranch of E. L. Stanton yesterday aboard the schooner Santa Cruz and the larger Vaquero...”