Welcome to Caltrans District 4

The History and Archaeology of Yerba Buena Island - Maritime History

For thousands of years Native Americans made their way back and forth across the Bay and along its marshy shores in boats made of bundles of tule lashed together. In 1775, the first non-native vessel, the Spanish ship San Carlos, entered San Francisco Bay, but for the next 75 years only an occasional European clipper or whaling ship visited the area. The California Gold Rush, which started in 1849, changed all that and brought thousands of vessels to the area. From the mid-1800s through the early 1900s, the volume of ship traffic on the Bay continued to grow. Military vessels, steamers, ferries, barges, and scow schooners carried freight and passengers between the various ports of the Bay into the Sacramento Delta and beyond, but some of these ships never made it to their destinations due to collisions or misfortune caused by fog or storms. Today their remains rest on the Bay floor.

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