Going through my 20 year old floppies and such, I finally found what I had been looking for — some items I produced that are worth preserving.

Ships Docked in San Francisco Harbor in 1849

The following details are from a San Francisco newspaper I reviewed twenty years ago.   It was wintertime.  I either spent my time in the lab working on plant chemicals or catching up on some new history topics.  This was winter 1992/3, right after completing the Osborn biographical article for Dutchess County Historical Society.  I was looking for something new to research and so spent months reading and keeping notes on the first months of the local newspapers.  I came upon these regular reports published in the paper and copied all the details into my notebook.  I would then go back home and enter this data into an excel file for later use.  The purpose was to see if there was a pattern that could be picked up once the data come together.  I was trying to trace the history of migrations of an idea from and to the Pacific Northwest.

The newspaper for this excel was the Alta California that detailed ships resting in the harbor in 1849.  Somewhere else I have a similar review of Sandwich Islands ships for the same time period.

ShipsDockedinSanFrancisco1_PieChart ShipsDockedinSanFrancisco3_NumbersLoggedinPerWeek ShipsDockedinSanFrancisco3_TypesofShips ShipsDockedinSanFrancisco2_Nationalities

San Francisco Harbor Ships – EXCEL FILE for download for Students/Researchers

This data tells us where the ship were coming from, but more importantly has information such as days at sea, where the ships came from, sometimes where they stopped along the way, how many passengers were on board.  The following observations came out of the data:

  • Most ships were cargo or commercial ships.
  • The most interesting ships were from Denmark–so small, and usually involved with the church commune consisting of nuns and orphans being built in Portland, in an attempt to lay claim to the Pacific Northwest.
  • A Russian ship or two is occasionally noted as well, with the primary goal of making its way up to Sitka.
  • The English ships were of a military nature and could cross the Pacific in about half the time as any other vessel, usually stopping at the Sandwich Islands.
  • The most frequent ships were to commercial ships from Chile which  regularly provided the west coast with necessities like food and clothing.

The Data Download:



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