The marker is primarily composted of photographs and illustrations and the captions that accompany them. Photographs or illustrations are sequentially numbered from the top. Photographs may be enlarged by clicking on the maker images.
You are standing on the old Point-Lombard & Greenwich Dock where the great cargo clipper ships of the 1850s and 60s came into port after rounding Cape Horn with its fearful storms. San Franciscans would never forget heroic Ann Patten, who took over the navigation of Neptune's Car when her husband, Captain Joshua Patten, became delirious with fatal brain fever. Nursing him when she could, Mary Ann battled foul weather to bring Neptune's Car safely into San Francisco on November 16, 1856. Just twenty years old, Mary Ann had learned to handle a clipper the year before on a trip to Hong Kong. She was mid-way in her first pregnancy she battled the cape and won.
Detail from a 19th C. Poster for the Clipper Ship Ocean Express
Clipper ship Captain Edgar Wakeman rode out dangerous times with his wife Mary by his side. Her tranquil expression does not reflect the murderous four years she sailed on the Adelaide when a mutinous crew went berserk, knocking a seaman overboard, murdering another, and winding up with a hanging from the yardarm. Two children were born at sea amidst this turmoil with only Captain Wakeman in attendance.
On board the famous United States Revenue Service Cutter Bear, Captain Michael Healy, wearing his gold braid cap, entertained local Innuit visitors in the summer of 1895. Son of an Irish soldier turned Georgia planter, and an octoroon slave, "Hell Roaring Mike" Healy became the first captain of the Bear, the most famous revenue cutter that ever sailed out of San Francisco to rescue whalers stranded in the frozen Bering Sea and the Arctic ice. From 1877 to 1896, his independent command was charged with "protecting the interests of the government" with almost unlimited discretion as to how to carry out his dangerous missions. Captain Michael Healy became famous as the most skillful and knowledgeable captain of the Arctic waters.
Revenue cutter Bear is jammed in the ice at Point Barrow, in August, 1898. Captain Healy is in command. Four years before, Healy has observed acute alcoholism and starvation killing 200 Innuit in a single village. Captain Healy sailed the Bear to Siberia, where he purchased a herd of reindeer and brought it back to Alaska - an imaginative solution suggested by naturalist John Muir. Reindeer provided the people of Alaska with food, transportation, and warm clothing. Each year from 1884 to 1902, a revenue cutter carried Siberian reindeer to Alaska; by 1940 the herd had grown to 500,000.
Free China makes 4,500 Mile Voyage in 59 Days
She sailed through the Golden Gate on August 9, 1955. Only 73-feet long, the historic junk was built in 1890 at Mahwei, near Foochow. Originally named Sung Shiow Li, her crew painted her new name Free China, in Chinese and in English - to tell the world of their determination that Formosa must remain forever free from Communist China. Three nights out of Yokosuka, Skipper Marco Yu-ling went overboard in heavy seas - but the sea swept him back, clinging to a sail. Other crew members were: Loo-chi Hu, Reno Chialing Cheng, Chia-chen Hsu, Paul Chow and Calvin Mehlert, American Vice Consul from Formosa. All the Chinese crew were on leave from the Formosa Provincial Fish Administration. Free China sails on San Francisco Bay, fully restored by Maritime Museum volunteers Harry Dring, Henry Rusk, Max Lembke and others.
Embedded around the base
These clipper ships where our gothic cathedrals, our Parthenon; but monuments carved from snow. - Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People