Steamboat Jenny Lind

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The steamboat Jenny Lind was a ferry that exploded in San Francisco Bay on April 11, 1853 while on course to San Francisco from Alviso, California, killing many residents of Alviso and San Jose. The boiler exploded as the steamboat passed the Redwood City inlet (about 37°32′N 122°11′W / 37.54°N 122.18°W / 37.54; -122.18Coordinates: 37°32′N 122°11′W / 37.54°N 122.18°W / 37.54; -122.18), minutes after dinner was called for the passengers.[1] Tragically, women and children were seated first at dinner, leading to the worst of the casualties. At least 31 people were killed.[2]


Built in San Francisco in 1850,[3] the Jenny Lind was named for Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, made famous in the United States by PT Barnum. The destruction of the Jenny Lind was a major reason for building the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad.[4]

Victims of the Jenny Lind Explosion[edit]

  • Thomas Godden, land owner in Santa Clara County.
  • Jacob David Hoppe, contributing founder of The Daily Alta California, signatory of the Constitution of California and first postmaster for San Jose.
  • Bernard Murphy, pioneer and Santa Clara County land owner.
  • Noah Ripley, prominent San Francisco resident.
  • Christopher A. Shelton, botanist who brought first beehive to San Jose.
  • Charles White, second mayor of the Pueblo of San Jose.