San Francisco’s buried gold rush ships

In 1847 William W. Clark built a small wharf near Battery and Broadway as this was the best spot for boats to land in Yerba Buena Cove. Then in early 1848 the Central Wharf, or long wharf, was built between Clay and Leidesdorff Streets and stretched 800 feet into the bay. In 1850 it was extended to 2000 feet and is the location of today’s Commercial Street. Soon everything east of Montgomery between Broadway and California Streets was filled with wharves.

View of San Francisco 1850

After the discovery of gold, ships that docked in San Francisco were often abandoned by their crews and simply left where they were. They would soon be turned into warehouses, saloons, and shops. The Niantic, Georgia, Euphemia, Bryan, Noble and so many more all burned to the waterline in one of the frequent fires that savaged early San Francisco. Afterwards the area was filled in and new buildings built on top of the hulks. Gradually Yerba Buena Cove disappeared and the shoreline we know today emerged.

Prison ship Euphemia and the Apollo Saloon



  1. Waste not, want not, although I’m not sure that was what was going through their heads as they were building. Very interesting.

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