Pacific Coast Steamship Company

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Founded October 17, 1876
Defunct 1916
Headquarters San Francisco, California

The Pacific Coast Steamship Company was an important early shipping company that operated steamships on the west coast of North America.

Organization and operations[edit]

House flag of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company.

The company was first organized in 1867 under the name of Goodall, Nelson and Perkins. The company's chief rival was the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. The competition was settled in January 1875, with Goodall, Nelson and Perkins buying six side-wheel steamships from Pacific Mail, as well as certain wharves. Goodall Nelson and Perkins would form a new company to handle the traffic between San Diego and San Francisco, while Pacific Mail would control the routes from Central America and those north of San Francisco.

The ill-fated SS Pacific.
The City of Topeka in 1899 alongside the Muir Glacier.

The new company, Goodall, Nelson & Perkins Steamship Company was formed in February 1875. That same year, their paddle steamer SS Pacific was lost in a collision off Cape Flattery, Washington with the deaths of over 200 people.[1] Less than a year later Christopher Nelson retired and the remaining partners reorganized, on October 17, 1876, as the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, providing service to twenty ports in California.

The company later expanded to operate on routes to Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Alaska, owning a number of steamships. The company also briefly conducted operations in Puget Sound, running two steamers on the route from Seattle to Bellingham.

Its steamships regularly sailed from Seattle to SE Alaska before and after the Klondike Gold Rush. The City of Topeka did a 22 day round trip between Seattle and Skagway, stopping in Port Townsend, Victoria, Mary Island, Wrangell, and Juneau.

The ill-fated Valencia.

In 1906, Pacific Coast's SS Valencia was lost after running aground on the rocky shore of Vancouver Island. Over 100 people, including all women and children on board, lost their lives.[1]

Railway lines[edit]

Beginning around 1873, a horse-powered, 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge tramway transported passengers and freight between Port Harford and a wagon road at Avila Beach. In 1876, the steamship company replaced the tram with the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge steam-powered San Luis Obispo & Santa Maria Valley Railroad to San Luis Obispo. This railway became the first segment of the Pacific Coast Railway in 1882.

Termination[edit]

The company effectively ceased business in 1916 when its vessels were purchased by the Admiral Line. The Admiral Line however also adopted the name “The Pacific Steamship Company”, which it used until 1936 when operations ceased.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Belyk, Robert C. Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. New York: Wiley, 2001. ISBN 0-471-38420-8
  • Best, Gerald W., Ships and Narrow Gauge Rails -- The Story of the Pacific Coast Company, Howell-North, Berkeley CA 1964 (no ISBN number)
  • Newell, Gordon, R., ed. H.W. McCurdy Maritime History of the Pacific Northwest, Superior Publishing 1966.
  • Wright, E.W., Lewis & Dryden's Marine history of the Pacific Northwest, Lewis & Dryden Printing Co., Portland, OR (1995)

External links[edit]