Gold rush ships under San Francisco

Captain Joseph L. Folsom filled in the first water lot in San Francisco. Located north of California and west of Sansome it had been an expensive undertaking, but the property values went up so fast that it proved a good investment and others soon followed Folsom’s example. Meanwhile the wharves were being extended far out into the bay and cross streets built on piles between them, thus shutting in the hulks of many ships that had been drawn up onto the mud flats and converted to businesses of one sort or another.

Prison ship Euphemia and the Apollo Saloon

One of these was the brig Euphemia anchored near the southeast corner of Jackson and Battery Streets. It was already in use as a prison and continued so for several years. Near the southwest corner of the same streets was the Apollo, first used as a store ship it was converted to a lodging house and drinking shop called the Apollo Saloon after Battery Street was piled and capped and closed it in. Since a big part of the hull rose over the streets, the old ship, now located in the heart of the business district and surrounded by substantial structures, became an object of curiosity.

The Niantic

But the most notable of these old hulks was the four hundred and fifty ton Niantic that had been hauled up to the northwest corner of Clay and Sansome Streets. The mast and rigging were removed, piles driven to steady the hull and the Niantic was used as a storehouse. Then in May of 1851 a fire burned everything above ground. Soon afterwards a hotel, known as the Niantic House, was built using the old hull as a foundation. It was a popular place for a time but in 1872 was finally torn down and a large brick structure erected in its place. While digging out the old hull workmen found several cases of Jacquesson Fils champagne that had been buried for over twenty years. The bottles were still in good shape, but the wine inside unfortunately was not. The remains of the Niantic were again uncovered when San Francisco’s famous Transamerica Pyramid was under construction.



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