George Alonzo Johnson

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George Alonzo Johnson (1824-1903) 49er, Colorado River steamboat entrepreneur, California politician.

George Alonzo Johnson was born in August 16, 1824, in Palatine Bridge, Montgomery County, New York.[1] In 1849 as a sailor he heard of the discovery of gold and left New York drawn by the California Gold Rush and came to San Francisco, in June 1849. There he worked unloading ships, except for a short trip to the mines, until May 1850. Hearing news of the Glanton Massacre he got together a small party with things necessary to build a ferry and traveled to the Yuma Crossing via San Diego. There they built and began operating a ferry, then sold it and returned to San Francisco.[2]

Seeing the opportunity, in 1854 Johnson brought the steamboat General Jesup to the Colorado River Delta, assembled it and began shipping and carrying passengers on the Colorado River from its mouth, up to Fort Yuma and beyond exploring the river up into Nevada. He established the George A. Johnson & Co. that became the largest steamboat company on the river. After the discovery of gold along the Colorado River in 1858 he moved to San Diego and became a Member of the California State Assembly 1st District in 1863, 1866-67. In 1869 he incorporated his steamboat company as the Colorado Steam Navigation Company which he held until he sold its steamboats to the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1877.[3]

He died in 1903 at the age of 79 and was buried in San Diego.[4]