The classic ferry – East Bay Services – North Bay Services – Other Services – The Ferry Building – Car Ferries and Floats – W. A.Coulter Ferry Drawings – Preserved Boats – Ferry Tales by G Lindsay Campbell – Introduction – San Francisco, California Bay is a big waterway. Water travel was the best way to get around until long bridges began to appear in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Return to top of page – The Classic Ferryboat – To be a classic ferry, a boat must have 3 features: A.It must be double ended – B.It must be propelled by side paddle wheels – C.The paddle wheels must be driven by a walking beam engine – Bay City in the Ferry Building, demonstrating the 3 features of a classic ferry.
The first ferries on the bay were single ended boats, such as the Clinton and the Petaluma of Saucelito. Double ended boats, starting with the Central Pacific’s Alameda in 1867, allowed for faster turnaround since the boats didn’t have to turn around. Paddle wheels aren’t the most effective method of marine propulsion, but I such as the noise they make. Most ferries built in the 1920’s and later used propellers. Key System never operated a ferry with a paddle wheel until it purchased Santa Fe’s San Pedro to take passengers to the 1939 fair on Treasure Island. A walking beam engine is a big one cylinder steam engine.
An A frame rises from the keel throughout the roof of the upper deck. The walking beam rocks at the top of the A frame. One end is connected to a big cylinder. The other end is connected to a crank that drives the paddle wheels. Other boats used numerous kinds of steam engines, including some compounds. Later ships used searing electric and after that diesel electric drive. The earliest ferries burn wood in their boilers. Most had converted to coal before 1900. Many converts to burn oil in the 1900’s. The typical classic ferry had 3 decks: A.Main – B.Cabin – C.Hurricane – Eureka on the bay, labelled with her 3 decks labelled.
The main deck was where goods and express were usually carried. Car ferries had tracks on the most important deck for freight vehicles and auto ferries carried automobiles on their most important decks. The most important deck was usually divided down the middle by the fiddley, which housed the walking beam engine. The cabin deck was where majority of the passengers rode. Cabin decks were usually extremely decorated. In the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California, passengers could debark from both the most important and cabin decks. The hurricane deck was off limits to passengers. The aviator houses, the walking beam, and the smoke stack were on the hurricane deck. Boilers and sometime restaurants were located under the most important deck. Restrooms were frequently next to or over the paddle boxes. Return to top of page – East Bay Services – Oakland \/San Francisco – Ferry service from San Francisco, California to the East Bay started in 1850, When Captain Thomas Gray started sailing the small steamboat Kangaroo from San Francisco, California to San Antonio Creek, that is now the Oakland Estuary.