THE DAY THE FERRIES STOPPED
A series of articles in the Sausalito News of February 27, 1941 detail the abrupt transition from public to private transportation just four years after the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One story, titled “Last Boat Leaves S.F. For Sausalito 11:25 P.M.,” announces the end of an era:
Seventy-three years of ferry operations commencing with the “Princess” of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company, in 1868, will draw to a colorful and noisy close tomorrow night as hundreds of Marin residents are expected to jampack the last ferry leaving Sausalito at 10:30 p.m. and returning from San Francisco at 11:25 p. m. to tie up here. The San Anselmo Lions Club is sponsoring a “last ride” night, and a large delegation of local Lions will join them on the trip. The observances, which will culminate in a final cruise on Saturday, will forever go down the long lanes of history as an incident of one of the modes of travel whose funeral wake slowly draws to a close.
Of unusual interest during the past week has been the number of passengers from the bay area who have been taking their last trip on the ferries this week. Not only have they come from this vicinity, but the record has just been added to by the presence of Mrs. B. C. Sommens of Carmel, who came to Sausalito on Monday to stay for the duration of the week "just to take the last trip." Mrs. Semmens, who is an ardent member of the fans who comprise a growing population of enthusiasts in the lore of oldtime railroading and ferry transportation, has ridden across the bay each day while she has been here, and is engaged in making a collection of prints of the bay ferries—a hobby of many of these enthusiasts.
A photo caption also announces a "Farewell to the Ferries” bay cruise sponsored Saturday by Marvelous Marin, Inc.: The tour of the bay aboard the NWP steamer "Eureka" will commemorate the discontinuance of the traditional San Francisco-Sausalito ferry service the evening previous, and the substitution of fast bus service. A limited number of free tickets are available from NWP ticket offices in Marin county and San Francisco.
At the same time, passenger rail service was coming to the end, as well. Another photo caption, titled “Week's Mourning Marks End of Interurban,” described two locomotives that were going out of service: Nos. 23 and 109, built 40 years ago, were used Sunday to put a trainload of the Railroadians Club and their party on a farewell jaunt over interurban lines of the NWP. Instead of an expected crowd of 200, 500 "railfans" packed the coaches which necessitated "double-heading" the train which was increased to seven cars.
The railroad workers were not exactly in a party mood, according to a story headlined, “Not for Them The Last Trip”: You won't see many of the railroad men on tomorrow night's farewell ferry trip from San Francisco at 11:25 p m. There are a lot of parties being planned by commuters and residents sort of looking forward to a celebration as it were. But for the fellows who have spent so many years with the NWP, who have dreaded the passing of their beloved boats, who can't even think about the retirement of the 'Eureka,' the ‘Tamalpais.' and especially the old 'Cazadero' (so old she will probably be scrapped), the trip holds little appeal. No, there won't be many of the boys aboard on that last trip—if goodbyes are to be said, they'll say them as they leave their posts at the end of a regular run. That way it's easier. This last trip, it's like a funeral to the railroad men. Better the memory of day by day work, of camaraderie and of service. They need no more.
Meanwhile, progress forged ahead. Another report stated that Greyhound Superintendent A. A. Smith had been perfecting the final steps in taking over the commuter and occasional rider traffic for his company, successors to the NWP interurban system: A new schedule for Sausalito, includes approximately 57 buses to Sausalito from
6:40 a. m. to 2:15 a. m. daily except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; and 51 trips to San Francisco between 4:30 a. m. to 12:56 a. m. Stops in Sausalito include; Prospect avenue, Monte Mar Vista, Fort Baker Gate, Second and Main streets, NWP Depot, Lighthouse Cafe, Motor Inn and Nevada and Bridgeway. Commutation rate monthly to San Francisco will be $8.50 per month, and is a 30 round-trip ticket. Local offices have been moved from the Golden Gate Ferry Wharf to the NWP terminal, where W. W. Hogle, Sausalito agent, is in charge of the new offices, adjoining the NWP ticket office. NWP main line trains will be serviced by Greyhound buses from the Marin Terminal, passengers being transferred to the train at the local terminal.
William H. Harrelson, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, announced: plans were being perfected to facilitate the handling of the increased volume of traffic over the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday with the abandonment of the NWP ferry-interurban train service between San Francisco and Marin county. While most of the commute traffic will utilize the new Pacific Greyhound commute buses which are to be put into service over the bridge as a substitute for the ferry-train operations, Harrelson said it was anticipated that hundreds of persons would use their own private automobiles and purchase bridge commute tickets.
What was a nostalgic moment for some, turned into an opportunity for others. Another article reported that work on the preliminary preparations for the building of a yacht harbor, had started: as announced by Madden and Lewis Company, owners of the site of the NWP piers. Walter Peterson, local pile driving expert, is engaged in preparing the piles for contractors who will drive them, and the work is expected to take two months. The piles, secured from the bankrupt Golden Gate Ferries, are being floated to the Madden and Lewis plant, where old bolts are being removed, before they can be used again in the work for which they were purchased.
Ironically, ferry service was reinstated the following year, to bring workers to the new Marinship facility from San Francisco. But after the war, service was discontinued again until the Golden Gate Bridge District renewed ferry service from Sausalito to San Francisco in August, 1970.
Ed. Note: this information was found in the Historical Society’s Online Catalog at http://sausalitohistoricalsociety. pastperfectonline.com. This new feature is a searchable catalog of photos, books, documents, works of art and other materials from the Society’s permanent collection. The photos that accompany this article – and many others – may also be viewed in the Online Catalog.
Sausalito Documentary Films
The Sausalito Library is presenting a series of documentaries with local historic significance. All films are being screened on Fridays at 7pm inside the Library. The series began February 10 with a new documentary, “Soul of Sausalito,” produced by Bruce Paquette with the cooperation of the Historical Society.
On February 17 the Library will present “Rebels with a Cause,” about early conservation efforts around San Francisco Bay, including the battle to stop the Marincello development planned for the hills above Sausalito. “We Built A Ship,” screening February 24, tells the story of the Matthew Turner, a 1891 replica wooden brigantine being built in Sausalito. The ship is scheduled to be launched on April 1, 2017. Documentarian Stefan Sargent and crew from the Matthew Turner will be on hand for the film.
Kicking off a months-long 75th anniversary celebration for Marinship, the Library will present “Marinship - World's Most Amazing Shipyard.” This new documentary was created by local filmmaker and Historical Society Board Member Eric Torney. After the March 3 screening, The Historical Society will host a reception in its upstairs exhibit space, to debut a new Marinship exhibition. The following Friday, March 10, the library will present a restored digital version of a 16mm film, “Tanker.” The 47-minute film was originally produced by the Marinship Corporation in 1945 to document Sausalito's WWII shipyard and recognize the thousands of workers. The film received its first showing at the Marin Theater on Caledonia Street. Representatives from the Sausalito Historical Society will be on hand to answer questions after the screening.
ICE HOUSE PLAZA UPDATE
Sausalito’s Ice House Plaza project is headed for construction thanks to our generous community. Designed by SWA, Sausalito’s internationally recognized planning and landscape architecture firm, the Plaza will transform a neglected space north of the historic Ice House Visitor Center and Museum into an inviting plaza where the public can linger and learn more about Sausalito’s vibrant history.
The final Planning Commission and Historic Landmarks Board action on the interpretive plans for the Plaza is slated for a joint meeting on February 22 at 6:30 PM. These plans include a local history timeline embedded in the concrete and bordered by a tile “railroad track” that symbolizes the trains that ran through Sausalito’s downtown for a century and a bronze statue of the late historian and cartoonist Phil Frank commissioned by the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation.
The Ice House Plaza project has been conceived, designed and funded by the Sausalito Community. The Sausalito Lions Club, Rotary Club, Woman’s Club and Historical Society have all made generous contributions to the Plaza. In addition, the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation has pledged to match $75,000 in citizen donations. To date, there have been $227,000 in cash and in-kind donations for the project.
All donations of $200 or more will be acknowledged on an artistic bronze plaque. Tax deductible donations can be sent to the Sausalito Foundation, PO Box 567, Sausalito, CA 94966 or online at www.sausalitohistoricalsociety.com/ice-house-plaza-donations.
Dozens of SHS volunteers were wined, dined and congratulated at a volunteer appreciation reception held on January 22 in the Society’s Exhibition Room. SHS Secretary and volunteer coordinator Sharon Seymour welcomed the group with a trivia game asking attendees to identify others responsible for specific volunteer tasks. Everyone mixed and mingled, attempting to get the right answers. Roberta Maloy won a bottle of wine purportedly from the warehouse fire described in the book Tangled Vines, for coming up with the most correct answers.
Sharon and SHS President Jerry Taylor honored Jeanne Fidler, who is retiring as a history room docent after three decades. Ann Heurlin was also honored as Volunteer of the Year. Ann has been diligently entering data from the Society’s card catalog into a digitized system which is searchable online by anyone around the world. The first phase of that system is now on the Society’s website at http://sausalitohistorical society.pastperfectonline.com.
7 Months of Marinship 75 Events
Several Sausalito organizations are partnering with the Historical Society to put on a series of special events honoring the 75th Anniversary of Marinship, starting with the documentary film screenings mentioned on page 2. Here’s a brief calendar of additional events:
April 8: Rotary Club Gala Cocktails, Dinner & Dancing to the Big Bands
May 13: 1940's Radio Broadcast Reenactment Sausalito Woman's Club
May 27: Christ Episcopal Church presents "Bob Hope and his USO Show"
June 9: Sausalito's Jazz by the Bay Features Marinship75 Style Music Jazz by the Bay
July 4: Join in the fun as Sausalito celebrates the 4th of July Marinship75 style!
September 2-4: Come See the Marinship75 Display at the 2017 Sausalito Art Festival
September 30: Welcome to the Sausalito USO Canteen. Details coming soon
More information on these activities is available at http://www.sausalitohistoricalsociety.com/marinship75-events. If you’d like to participate, contact Marinship 75 Chair Roberta Maloy at info@Marinship75.org.
New Book at Ice House
A beautiful new book written and illustrated by Jane Kriss, local author and SHS member, is now available for sale at the Ice House. Jane calls “Next Stop Sausalito” a family book that can be enjoyed by parents, grandparents and children, but we think adults will enjoy it on their own and all may learn something about Sausalito. Jane modeled it after the “This Is” series written and illustrated by M. Sasek, books she enjoyed as a child. It is $23.95. Stop in at the Ice House on Tuesday-Sunday 11:30-4 and get your signed copy.
Sights and Sounds of Sausalito
The Historical Society has uploaded a selection of oral histories, videos and photos to a website sponsored by the California Preservation Program Digital Preservation Service: https://archive.org/details/sausalitohistoricalsociety.
There you’ll find interviews with Sausalito notables such as Phil Frank, Dorothy Gibson, Amy Belser, Earl Dunphy and Charlie Merrill, among others. You can also view videos and slides from Marinship during WWII.
We’ll continue to add content to this site, so we invite you to check back from time to time. You’ll even be able to sort the collection by date uploaded, so the recently added items will appear first.
More Premium Level Members
More and more members are choosing premium levels of SHS membership, with additional benefits. We extend our deep appreciation to the latest new and renewing premium level members for:
- Bruce & Patricia Fitzgerald
- Joanne’s Print Shop
- Bill and Felicity Kirsch
- Carolyn Revelle
- Michael Rex
- Annette Rose & Chris Hardman
- George Stratigos
- Linda Swanson & Peter Carlson
- Jamie and James Wycoff
- Patron Level
- Diane Parish & Paul Gelburd
- Benefactor Level
- Jeanne Harvey
- Joan McArthur
Did You Know?
Here are two ways that members can make charitable contributions to the Historical Society.
In 2015, Congress passed a law making the IRA charitable rollover provision permanent. What does that mean for current and potential donors?
- Individuals age 70 ½ or older can transfer up to $100,000 per year tax free, directly from an IRA to qualifying charities -- including the Sausalito Historical Society. This sum counts towards the required minimum distribution (RMD) each individual must take.
This sum is not included in the individual’s adjusted gross income, making it tax effective. The rollover provision has been in place since 2006, but it was not permanent, and it lapsed and was revived several times – often keeping donors in suspense about whether it would be a viable option from year to year. The guessing game is over, and now donors can incorporate this gift vehicle into their long-range planning.
You should always seek the guidance of good advisor regarding financial matters of this type.
How to make a Charitable Gift Donation of marketable stocks and bonds:
The Sausalito Historical Society has recently adopted a policy for soliciting and accepting gifts for purposes that will help the organization further and fulfill its mission.
Gifts Generally Accepted Without Review—
- Marketable Securities.
- Bequests and Beneficiary Designations under Revocable Trusts, Life Insurance Policies, Commercial Annuities and Retirement Plans\Charitable Remainder Trusts.
- Charitable Lead Trusts.
If you would like to make a charitable donation please contact: Info@sausalitohistoricalsociety.org.
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
As a Baby Boomer growing up in Sausalito, the Marinship area was… well, it just was. Think back, it looked dusty, ancient, and of little interest. I recall the area around today’s Mollie Stone’s Market being a wasteland of concrete blocks, like a giant’s toys.
There were some signs of life in the 1950’s. The Northwestern Pacific was delivering large marine engines to the A.G. Schoonmaker Company in the tall building at the south end of the area. The 3030 Bridgeway building was obviously an office. The ICB was a nascent incubator for the art community. A model of SF Bay was being built in one of the old buildings, and I recall a field trip to the Bullard Company which was making plastic workers’ helmets. I don’t think I knew that the lunchroom or the music room at Richardson Bay School 1 had been part of the shipyard – part of the War Effort. Ditto with the gymnasium and classrooms at Bayside School. 2
When I visited friends and family in Marin City, the WWII housing units covered the entire bowl. Row after row of those wooden units sure looked like they had been around for more than just fifteen years.
Now it’s seventy-five years since March 1942 when the contract was written, the railroad yard closed, and Pine Point was dynamited. The exigency of WWII took priority over most property rights and environmental concerns. The marsh was filled, and along with dairy country, blank canvases were created to build a modern shipyard and nearby affordable housing.
It is almost inconceivable that so much happened in that area is such a short time. In June 1942, the keel of the first ship was laid: the William A. Richardson. The liberty ship was launched in September 1942.
To commemorate these amazing efforts, and recognize the contributions of the shipyard workers through 1945, the City of Sausalito has proclaimed 2017 to be celebrated as “Marinship 75”, and the Sausalito Historical Society has been tasked with coordinating groups, businesses and individuals who want to celebrate. And we know, Sausalito loves to party!
The significant months of March, June and September line up nicely with Sausalito’s established rhythms. In March, it’s still dark enough to show movies in the Library in the evenings. So we will. The June keel laying will be a focus for a special Jazz and Blues by the Bay, and for the July 4th Parade, (you know how much I love that parade). September brings us the Sausalito Art Festival with the opportunity to explore artistic aspects of the shipyard, right in the middle of it. And our weather in October will provide a wonderful opportunity to close the curtain with a big city-wide affordable dinner-dance at the Portuguese Cultural Center.
So, you and all our friends are invited to join a Marinship celebration, or all of them. We are starting in March. If you want to volunteer, or create an event with your group, contact us, you can help, and we can help.
1 Richardson Bay School was an elementary school between Ebbtide and Coloma Streets. Later the name was changed to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the campus is now in Marin City.
2 Bayside School was located where Willow Creek Academy is today. During WWII, this area was dormitories for single men. The area east of today's baseball field included classrooms and a gymnasium/multi-purpose room. This became Bayside School in the late 1950's