Pacific Coast Steamship Company

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Pacific Coast Steamship Company
Fate Bought by the Admiral Line
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. Organized in 1867 under the name of Goodall, Nelson and Perkins the company. The Goodall, Nelson & Perkins Steamship Company was formed in 1875, but a year later reorganized as the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. In 1916 the Admiral Line bought the shipping interests of the company.


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 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.

During the Spanish–American War the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department chartered two vessels from the company to transport troops to and from the Philippines. SS Senator was chartered June 8 1898 for $1000 per day. Senator displaced 2409 tons and carried 1000 troops. SS City of Puebla was chartered June 23, 1898, at a rate of $900 per day. City of Puebla displaced 2623 tons, made 12 knots and carried 635 troops.[2]

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.

The City of Topeka in 1899 alongside the Muir Glacier.

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.

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]

The ill-fated Valencia.

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.


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.


  1. ^ a b Belyk, Robert C. Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. New York: Wiley, 2001. ISBN 0-471-38420-8
  2. ^ The Spanish–American War Centennial Website. The Transport Service. Retrieved: 6 December 2015
  • 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]