The California Steam Navigation Company

At about the same time that gas was introduced into San Francisco there were more improvements underway. Proposals to cut down all the hills in the city and use the dirt to fill in the hollows were modified and the hills we see today were saved. Many of the principal streets were paved with water-worn stones called cobbles that had been taken from the streams of inland California. These cobbles were rough and noisy but they were durable and in many ways preferable to the wood planking currently in use. Some new streets were graded, including Powell from Clay to North Beach and Pacific through the hill from Montgomery to Sansome, and a road was opened along the bay shore around the eastern and northern side of Telegraph Hill. Omnibuses, introduced in 1852, now began to run at half hour intervals throughout most of the city.

California Steam Navigation poster 1863

Another important move, though not so much for San Francisco, was made to the organization of the transportation of passengers and freight on California inland waterways. When a number of the owners of steamboats united to form the California Steam Navigation Company they gained a substantial monopoly over the transportation of passenger and freight traffic between the city and the chief inland ports for the next fifteen years. The rates charges by the company were ten dollars for cabin passage to or from Sacramento or Stockton, seven dollars for deck passage and eight dollars a ton for freight to Sacramento and six to Stockton. A cabin to Marysville was twelve dollars; ten for the deck and freight was fifteen dollars a ton. The success and the profits were enormous. Attempts to form competing companies were fought off, bought off or otherwise destroyed and the company continued to prosper until the railroads finally cut into their empire.

The Yosemite


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