This Day in Maritime History, May

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

Drawing of the ship receiving passengers in the harbor in Panama with handwritten text
Frontispiece of logbook, SAFR 13574/HDC 28

(Digital image by NPS)

May 1, 1849

Captain Henry Cleaveland sails Niantic from Panama towards California.
Watercolor painting of the lighthouse on the bluff with people around it and birds on rocks in the foreground (SAFR 11370)
Point Bonita Lighthouse by Dorothy Wagner Puccinelli (SAFR 11370)

(Digital image by NPS)

May 2, 1855

Point Bonita lighthouse first lit.
Line drawing, white on blue, side elevation on left, head on view on the right
Cyanotype of the USS Oregon (SAFR 1538)

(Digital image by NPS)

May 4, 1895

USS Oregon leaves the Union Iron Works dry dock and is berthed alongside the shipyard's wharf to await the mounting of armor-plating that is coming from the East Coast.
Title page of The Big Strike with text under Rockwell Kent drawing of shirtless man swinging a sledge hammer
Title page of The Big Strike

May 9, 1934

"The San Francisco local of ILA, at a meeting attended by 1,500 men, voted unanimously to strike on the morning of Wednesday, May 9. Simultaneous votes were being taken in all other ports with overwhelming decisions to strike." --Mike Quin, The Big Strike. Olema Publishing Company, 1949, p. 45
Black and white publicity portrait of Jonthan Winters in a black suit
Jonathan Winters

(Public domain, source

May 12, 1959

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Wednesday, May 13, 1959, that on the night before comedian Jonathan Winters was escorted from Balclutha's gangway to the dock (not from aboard the vessel, as the urban legend states) after insisting that his ticket to board the vessel gave him the right to climb the ship's rigging.
WPA black and white photograph of beach, promenade, and bleachers under construction
Beach, promenade and bleachers under construction.

(WPA photo, SAFR 17866, p88-035.135p)

May 13, 1938

WPA photograph captures Aquatic Park while it's under construction.
Cover of videocassette edition of Whisper's Pacific Voyage depicting woman in feathered dress

May 15, 1969

Hal and Margaret Roth are "On our twelfth day at sea" (Two on a Big Ocean, p. 8). They will later recount their journey in this book and in a film, Whisper's Pacific Voyage. The Park will later acquire the Hal Roth Papers, 1948-2009 (HDC1613, SAFR 22822).
Black and white photograph of James Percy Ault bending over and handling scientific instrument
James Percy (J.P.) Ault, observer, taking readings on board Galilee at the beginning of Pacific magnetic survey, 1905-1908.

(NPS photo)

May 21, 1908

The brigantine Galilee sailed through the Golden Gate completing her third and last magnetic survey cruise for the Carnegie Institute of Washington.
Clip of scanned newspaper article

May 23, 1891

The Park's scow schooner Alma is launched at F. Siemen's shipyard in South San Francisco, as reported in the San Francisco Call, volume 70, number 7 (June 7, 1891).
Technical drawing supporting dredging patent
Page 2 of patent

May 26, 1885

Patent no. 318,860 was issued to Alphonzo B. Bowers for his invention of an Improvement in the art of dredging.
Book jacket with illustration of green seawater with yellow swirls on the left, and textual description of book on the right

(Digital image by NPS)

May 27, 1907

Environmentalist and marine biologist Rachel Carson is born. While best known for her book, Silent Spring, Carson also wrote many books about marine science including The Sea Around Us, one of Dean King's 101 Crackerjack Sea Books, and a starred title in Robert Greenhalgh Albion's Naval & Maritime History; An Annotated Bibliography.

Last updated: June 7, 2018

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