Tall Ships of San Francisco

Maritime History and Model Ships by Steve Priske ~ Shipwright - Historian


The largest single fleet of tall ships built on the west coast in the 1800’s was built by Captain Asa Meade Simpson of San Francisco. From his two shipyards at Coos Bay and Gray’s Harbor, Captain Simpson would have over 65 bluewater ships of sail built, many the first of their rigs anywhere! The center piece of this magnificent fleet would be the Clipper ship Western Shore launched in 1874 at Coos Bay, Oregon. The ‘Oregon Clipper’ as she was known, would be the last all wood clipper built in the world, and she would set three sailing records from the west coast to the U.K. that stand to this day. The painting above is from the family of Master Ship builder John Kruse, builder of the Western Shore.

Click on Historic Photo Pages - to the right - to see photos of tall ships not seen in over 130 years!
Click on the link below to see photos of some of today’s largest tall ships!
Let me know what you think of my web site, and if you have any nautical history the world should see
please contact me to see about posting it on this site. Steve Priske - Historian - Shipwright.


Starting in 1895 San Francisco became home to a large fleet of masterful blue water Sugar Ships. This unusual fleet of world class tall ships were built at Oakland, Alameda, Coos Bay and Hoquiam. Very attractive and fast sailing vessels, the Sugar Ship fleet would be operated by Hind,Rolph & Co., all ships being registered at San Francisco. These ships would help establish the California & Hawaii Sugar Company, often returning with raw sugar from Hawaii to the C&H refineries at Crockett, located near San Francisco.

Included in this ‘rare’ fleet of Sugar Ships were the four masted schooners: Honoipu, Muriel, John G. North and Georgette and the four masted barkentines Puako, Lahina, KoKo Head, Mahukona and Makaweli. The barkentines would all sport 6 yards on the foremast (skysailers), all ships in the fleet were painted ‘snow white’ and were known for being very well maintained.

In 1898, on her maiden voyage the schooner Honoipu, would be commanded by William Olson who at 19 became the youngest sea Captain on the Pacific. Another ship, the barkentine Puako would be embroiled in an attempted mutiny leading to a multiple ‘murder at sea‘!

To learn more about San Francisco’s Sugar Ship fleet of tall ships click on the links on right and below



Included in San Francisco’s 19th Century fleet of west coast built ships of sail was:

The Western Shore, the only Clipper ship built on the U.S. west coast c.1874
The World’s first 4 masted bald head schooner: Novelty c.1886
kikThe World’s first 5 masted salt water schooner: Louis c.1888
First west coast 4 masted barkentine: Willie R. Hume c.1890
The North Bend II c.1920 “The only ship known to have re-floated herself” ~ Ripley’s

To see more history of this unique fleet of west coast built tall ships click on the History Links below. To see ship models of these and other west coast built tall ships, click on this link

Tall Ship Models by Steve Priske


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