Ferryboat Sausalito History


Kathie's December 2018 Article

Historian Kathie Hammer

Once again, my favorite night will soon be here. Our children have fond memories of Santa night, then their children also have fond memories, and now the third generation can hardly wait. Wow, time goes by fast. The following is a poem I wrote last year and I want to share it with you again.

Twas a few weeks before Christmas and all through the ferry, not a creature was stirring not even those Merry.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, just waiting for Santa to soon appear.

The children were all sitting on the floor, listening to a Christmas story and singing once more. Mrs. Hammer gave them all bells so their singing could be heard and they all sang loud and clear so you could hear each word.

Mr. Hammer was on the radio in touch with the boat that would bring Santa  straight to the float. He let us all know how Santa was doing with feeding his reindeer on West Island and getting ready to board the boat.

The moon on the Delta glittered like snow and the water looked like diamonds below.

When it was time, Mrs. Hammer exclaimed, “please get your parents  and walk carefully outside.” The boat was all lit from bow to stern and Santa was waving to each and every one.

The children all sat once again and Santa called up each child to sit on his lap and asked them their name. He gave them each a presents, then turned with a jerk to return to his reindeer; he knew he had lots of work.

The children all waved goodbye and in the distance up in the sky, they could hear him exclaim as he drove out of sight



Kathie's November 2018 Article


I enjoy looking through books and reading old articles about ferry boats from the past.

In 1917, one of the big stories in a local newspaper was the launching of a new ferry, The City of Martinez, which would travel from Martinez to Benicia. The vessel was designed by George W. Dickie of San Francisco and built at the Lanteri shipyards in Pittsburg. It weighed 819 gross tons, was 267 feet in length and a 54 feet beam. She was a dual paddle wheel vessel with a 250 horsepower steam reciprocating Evans engine and Eureka oil burning boilers. The ferry could carry 35 automobiles. According to a local newspaper article, it made its first run on July 6, 1917. She retired after nine years because the vessel was inefficient due to high weight to horsepower ratio. While being tied up at a wharf to become the Martinez Bass Club, it burned down to the waterline.

Kathie's October 2018 Article


In August we had some very interesting guests visit our ferry.

On August 7th, Aleta George came to visit. She is an author and wrote a book titled Ina Coolbrith, The Bittersweet Song of California’s First Poet Laureate. Ina Coolbrith was also the first librarian of Oakland.

Aleta is going to write another book about Jack London and wants to include the crash of the Sausalito and the San Rafael that Jack London writes about in his book The Sea Wolf. She interviewed Keith and I and I showed her and her husband our museum and the ferry. It was a very enjoyable visit.

On August 18th, a group from the Sausalito Historical Society came for a visit and have lunch.  The group was so appreciative of what the members have done to preserve our historical ferry and they loved the museum and couldn’t believe all we had saved over the years. They were a wonderful group. It was so exciting to have such knowledgeable people enthused as much as we are about our ferry.  Thanks to our Commodore Babo and his wife Denice, Past Commodore Tate and his wife Marianne, and Darlene Moore, we had a very beautiful lunch served. Both of our Commodores wore their white uniforms, which made it a very special occasion. I was happy to hear that the members of the Sausalito Historical Society read our Newsletter each month.

Both visitors marveled at our bar and stools that are from the Women’s lounge at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Below is a photo of Aleta George and I and a group photo of the Sausalito Historical Society.


Kathie's September 2018 Article


Have you visited the Maritime Museum at Hyde Street Pier lately or ever? The Maritime Museum lets you experience the spirit of the men and women who sailed lumber schooners from the state of Washington to Los Angeles. They made stops on the shores of San Francisco Bay; they fished and traded up and down the Pacific Coast.

You can board the Balclutha, which was built to carry grain around the world. It is a mighty square rigger that made its last stand here in the Pacific.

The sister ship of our Sausalito is there.  The Eureka hauled freight trains to San Francisco in 1890, and later carried passengers and automobiles. Eureka’s cargo change from passengers and railcars, to passengers and automobiles shows the Pacific Coast’s changing transportation patterns.

You can also board the C.A. Thayer which supplied the timber that built San Francisco and Los Angeles. After the Steamers took over the West Coast lumber routes, the C.A. Thayer sailed to Alaska to work with the salmon salteries and codfish banks.

The vessels at the Maritime Museum show the transition from sail to steam and from wood to steel. They tell a story of significant importance.

I hope you will consider visiting this historical site.  I promise you a good time.


(No Article in August 2018)

Kathie's July 2018 Article


The Port Commissioners of San Francisco were so sure the people of California would vote for the bond to build a new Ferry Building that they contacted A. Page Brown to get his concept of what the Ferry Building should look like. Brown had just won a state wide architectural competition for his design of the 12 story Crocker Bank.

In January 1893, Brown turned in a detailed design. The 240 foot tower was to be illuminated at the top and the clock was to become a welcoming beacon to watercraft on the Bay. From his European travels, Brown had chosen the Giralda Bell Tower of the Seville Cathedral as the model for his clock tower.

In his plan, he had repeated arches along his 840 foot-long building that gives one the feeling of a Roman Aqueduct. Brown was 34 when he submitted his drawings for the Ferry Building. His firm was awarded the contract on September 15, 1895.

Unfortunately on October 7, 1895, Brown was thrown from his horse in a runaway accident and was confined to his bed for the next 106 days, when he died on January 21, 1896.

The difficult task of building the Ferry Building was carried out by an architect named Edward Swain and Chief Engineer Howard Holmes, but without the master architect to answer questions about certain specifications it was a very difficult task.



Kathie's June 2018 Article


I know many of you know the history behind the 4S, but for the many new members I would like to repeat it.

This year will be the 65th year we have come together for this great event.   It all started in 1953 when four yacht clubs, (Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stockton, and Sportsmen) got together for an over-the-bottom race. The boats would race in the morning, then the host club would serve sandwiches after the race. We have come a long way since 1953. Now it is a four day event with games, food, entertainment and fun.

The weekend starts with a dinner on Thursday night followed by a breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday.  On Saturday, the day starts with breakfast.  Then we have our Opening Ceremony followed by, “Let the games begin!”  The Olympic style games competition continues throughout the day.  Lunch is served around noon.  Of course, the museum will be open for tours Friday and Saturday. After our big dinner on Saturday evening, medals are presented to the individual winners of each game.

In 1986, Sportsmen donated a perpetual trophy, which is still used today. It is given to the club with the highest number of points from the games won in the game competitions.

On Sunday, we end our weekend with closing ceremonies and the 4S flag is presented to the club that will host the event next year.

The 4S is a wonderful event where old friendships are renewed and new friendships are made. It is a weekend like no other. I highly recommend everyone attend; you will have a marvelous time.

Check our Newsletter for the date of the 4S game tryouts in June; we want to bring the perpetual trophy home.

(No Newsletter in May 2018)

Kathie's April 2018 Article

In 1889, there was a ferry house in San Francisco.  When they extended it by 250 feet, it had seven ferry slips, four devoted to Oakland, one to Alameda and two slips for Marin and the North Pacific Coast. The foot of Market Street had proven to be the best place for the Ferry Depot. It opened on Saturday, September 4, 1875.

It was the age of silver which prompted an influx of 262,000 people, mostly out of work immigrants leaving the East Coast depression. The population explosion meant more ferryboat riders. A nickel a ride is what they paid to ride the ferries to look for work. By 1884, receipts from ferry service totaled $88,796.75, three times more than any other source. The ferry business long continued to be the Port Commission’s biggest business on the waterfront.

In 1893, a proposal was made to the Port Commission for a new Ferry Building. Voters from all over California had to approve the $600,000 bond to build a new Ferry Building in San Francisco. On November 8, 1892, by only 866 votes the bond passed.

The new Ferry building would stand tall and majestic at the foot of Market Street and be a welcoming tower to the world.


Kathie's March 2018 Article

We recently took a trip to Mendocino and on the way home stopped at Duncan Mills on the Russian River. It is fun to imagine the hundreds of people who used to vacation there each year. It is still very charming, with lots of places to visit.

Two lines ran to the Russian River. After the ferry connection at Sausalito, the narrow gauge (3 feet) railroad turned left at San Anselmo in Marin County and continued to Point Reyes, then on to Tomales Bay. Then, it went inland and through the Redwoods to Occidental. The trains continued to the Russian River at Monte Rio, then crossed the river to Duncan Mills. The broad gauge (4 feet, 8 inches) went directly north to Petaluma, Santa Rosa, then ran along the Russian River from Mirabel to Duncan Mills.

What started these railroad routes? It was the opportunity to make money from passengers and freight. Of course, logs and lumber was number one.

Today, very few people remember the narrow gauge and board gauge railroad trains. Once in a while, you can spot an old right-of-way.

It was an exciting time for the ferry boats, trains, and the people who enjoyed many a leisurely ride to the Redwoods to spend the whole summer swimming, dancing, fishing, and relaxing in a very beautiful area.


Kathie's February 2018 Article

In May 1892, William Steele became president of the North Coast Pacific Railroad and walked right into the 1893-1894 depression. The railroads bond holders had given up hope on any return on their investment, so many sold out for whatever they could get.

In May 1893, another president took over the narrow gauge railways. This time it was J. B. Stetson. With money to invest, the railroad purchased a large new ferry boat, The Sausalito. An extensive advertising campaign was put into effect. This had a great effect and the result was that passengers came from miles around to commute to their jobs; picnickers and summer travel to the vacationland along the Russian River increased. In 1901, a new ferry boat was built, the Tamalpais. This vessel, with its sleek operation, was a favorite with passengers and remained a favorite right to the end of ferryboat operation.

Find this, and other photos of the Sausalito, on our website!


Kathie's January 2018 Article


Looking through old bulletins is always fun.

I looked up January 1942, the year someone in this house was born. The following is what I found that I thought was interesting:

The meeting was called to order at the Club hall at 1441 Franklin Street in Oakland, California. The hall has been prepared for a complete blackout in case of an emergency, so you need have no fear of being caught in a blackout.

Let’s get away from war for a little while and review some of the outstanding improvements which have been made during 1941. The Clubhouse was painted inside and out, which means a lot more than it appears on the surface. The outside of the big ferry boat was scraped down to the wood by members, which took hundreds of man hours of hard labor. A gasoline storage tank and pump was installed to make it more convenient for large boat owners to gas up. A substantial walk way was built across the harbor so that owners of small boats would not have to risk their necks to get their motors. Last year winter flood waters went over our inside levees, making it necessary to strengthen and build them higher. Many other improvements were made which are not so apparent. All of the above improvements were made possible by the fact that the members gave so much of their time, material and cash. It could not have been done with just the dues and make the payments on the property, the dredging, water, electricity, hall rent, and other small items of maintenance. You may thank the Board of Directors of the past few years for the fact that all payments on property, dredging, and current bills are paid up to date.




If you should happen to have old newspaper articles, photos, other artifacts, or personal knowledge relevant to the history of The Ferryboat Sausalito, please contact Historian Kathie Hammer. Please see "Contact SYC Staff" on Home page.  Thank you.