This Day in Maritime History, January

This Day in Maritime History highlights the connections between SF Maritime NHP Collections and maritime historical events through the year.

January -- February -- March
April -- May -- June
July -- August -- September
October -- November -- December

Photograph of the ship Noonday's bell
Noonday bell (SAFR 12929)

(NPS photo)

January 1, 1863

The medium clipper Noonday strikes an uncharted rock approximately eight miles off North Farallon Island. She glides off the rock with no visible damage, but her hull is stove in and she quickly fills with water. Captain Henry and his crew take to the boats before she sinks in 40 fathoms of water. The pilot boat Relief, which happens to be nearby, picks up all hands. The rock that causes the damage is later added to the charts and named Noonday Rock. Read more about it in pages 4-5 of James Delgado and Stephen Haller's book Shipwrecks at the Golden Gate.

Scan of manuscript page of SS China medical and surgical case book
Entry for Gussie Smith in the SS China Medical and surgical case book (HDC 1102)

(NPS photo)

January 3, 1876

Dr. Milan Soulé removes the splint from two-year-old Gussie Smith's left leg, which she broke the previous December 15th. Dr. Soulé records that "the child was soon able to walk, and recovered without deformity."

Cover of book Long Line of Ships
Cover of book A Long Line of Ships

(NPS photo)

January 4, 1853

The United States Navy purchases Mare Island from private owners for a sum of $83,491. Read about it in Arnold S. Lott's A Long Line of Ships: Mare Island's Century of Naval Activity in California, and learn more in the book Sidewheelers to Nuclear Power: a Pictorial Essay Covering 123 Years at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

Scan of handwritten receipt
HDC 1207 (SAFR 20009)

(NPS photo)

January 4, 1859

A receipt for goods shipped aboard the Flora by Luneyick consigned to Chinwo in S.F. is received from the San Francisco Custom House. The cargo includes silk shoes, pills, stockings, dried dates, tobacco, and ginger.
Scan of typed document
HDC 116 (SAFR 15007) Jib Papers, 1945-1948

(NPS photo)

January 9, 1946

On this day, US Navy Reserves dog Jay J. Jib, assigned to the USS Henrico, entered sick bay suffering from seasickness. You can view a photo gallery of Jay J. Jib's official Navy documents from our collections.

Color print of steamer Great Republic
Currier & Ives print of the Great Republic (SAFR 63)

(NPS photo)

January 12, 1871

Pacific Mail Steamship Company steamer Great Republic leaves Hong Kong bound for San Francisco via Yokohama.
Scan of London's Sea Wolf book jacket showing Edward G. Robinson standing on the sailing ship's deck
Movie tie-in edition from the library collections in the Maritime Research Center

(NPS photo)

January 12, 1876

Jack London is born in Oakland, California. He will write many mariime works including The Cruise of the Snark and The Sea Wolf, which was partially based on Captain Alex MacLean, which will be made into a film starring Edward G. Robinson.
Crying towel with program for Farewell Ferry Boat Party
"Crying towel" with program for Farewell Ferry Boat Party

(NPS photo)

January 13, 1939

Farewell Ferry Boat Party held on the ferry Alameda's last run on San Francisco Bay.

Scan of title page and frontespiece portrait of Dana in Harvard Classics edition published by Collier
Frontispiece and title page

(NPS photo)

January 14, 1835

Richard Henry Dana arrives in Santa Barbara for the fur trade. He later writes about his experiences in Two Years Before the Mast, published in many editions, including the two-volume, illustrated edition published by the Ward Ritchie Press in 1964.
Small photograph of Balclutha's brass builders plate
Balclutha's brass builders plate (SAFR 19918)

(NPS photo)

January 15, 1887

The full-rigged ship Balclutha, now at the Hyde Street Pier, departs Cardiff, Wales on her maiden voyage.
Photograph of the damaged nameboard
Franklin's nameboard (SAFR 9821)

(NPS photo)

January 17, 1865

The medium clipper Sir John Franklin is driven ashore just south of Pigeon Point during a dense fog. Thirteen members of the crew, including the captain are lost.
Scan of the menu posted aboard the ferry boat Eureka
SAFR 15399

(NPS photo)

January 18, 1938

Menu aboard the Ferryboat Eureka for today includes: Pot Roast or Beef, Jardiniere (45¢); Kidney sauteed on Toast (40¢); Broiled Brisket of Beef, Spanish Sauce (40¢). You could wash it all down with a bottle of Humbolt, Acme, Grace Bros or Rainer beer for a very reasonable 20¢.
Scan of the cover of library collection's copy no.2 showing the view across Aquatic Park from the water

(NPS photo)

January 22, 1939

San Francisco Maritime NHP's Aquatic Park is dedicated. James Delgado and Stephen Haller will publish their work about Aquatic Park's history, A Dream of Seven Decades, in 1985.
Photograph of the sailors aboard the ship
SAFR 20643, p05-005.1p

(Digital image by NPS)

January 26, 1924

Frank J. Sommers, 3rd Officer on board the APL liner President Taft, and 6 Filipino crewmembers assist with the rescue at sea of the crew of the British cargo transport, Mary Horlock, off the coast of Japan. The Mary Horlock, built in 1919, was transporting lumber from Tacoma when her cargo shifted causing her to list and water to flood the engine room. For their heroic efforts, these men will receive the British government's medal for "Honor and Gallantry." Frank Sommers praised “the six loyal Filipino sailors, who volunteered and almost insisted to man the lifeboat with me. I will always remember the names of Laxinto, Sim, Demerin, Valencia, De la Cruz and Fernandez.”

Last updated: February 8, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2 Marina Boulevard, Building E, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-7000
The public information office is open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. PST during weekdays and we will respond to all messages within two business days.

Contact Us