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Journal Article

Archaeological Investigations of a Mid-19th-Century Shipbreaking Yard, San Francisco, California

Allen G. Pastron and James P. Delgado
Historical Archaeology
Vol. 25, No. 3 (1991), pp. 61-77
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25616105
Page Count: 17

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Topics: Timber, Ships, Keels, Hares, Copper, Ship hulls, City squares, Inlets, Law of salvage, Waterfronts
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Archaeological Investigations of a Mid-19th-Century Shipbreaking Yard, San Francisco, California
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Abstract

By mid-1850, as a consequence of the California Gold Rush, hundreds of ships from around the world lay at anchor in San Francisco Bay, to the east of the rapidly growing metropolis. As the "argonauts" headed for the Gold Country, scores of these vessels were abandoned in the harbor and left to rot. As the city expanded eastward into the harbor, the least seaworthy ships were towed to the shallows off Rincon Point and scrapped. By the mid-1850s enterprising entrepreneurs commenced San Francisco's shipbreaking trade. In 1988, construction at the Hills Plaza Site, located at the former tip of Rincon Point, encountered a substantial portion of what had been San Francisco's largest mid-19th-century shipbreaking yard. The study of portions of Charles Hare's Gold Rush shipbreaking facility afforded the first opportunity to document archaeologically this type of land-based maritime facility on the West Coast.

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